A 007 statistic of note

On Aug. 20, an item on Nikki Finke’s Deadline Web site caught our eye, namely that the Twilight movies have amassed 1 million followers on Twitter. By late Aug. 21, that was up to 1,005,694. We were curious, so we looked up the official Twitter site for James Bond movies (a latecomer to the whole social media thing). It had 65,381 followers. The Twilight Saga follows 113 other Twitter users while 007 follows 0.

Why would we be interested? Because Twitter has become a big way of marketing movies. It’s another arm of the marketing department. It’s an indicator of what the studios behind movies want to emphasize. It’s also an indicator — albeit one of many — of the relative popularity of movies among a younger demographic that uses Twitter.

Having a gap between The Twilight Saga and the official 007 Twitter feed isn’t a great surprise. The Twilight Saga has been on Twitter since 2009. 007 didn’t go Twitter until November 2011, just ahead of a news conference to kick off the “official” start of Skyfall filming.

We made a note of it on our own modest Twitter feed and on Facebook and didn’t think much more of it. We more reaction than we thought we’d get. People are predicting that the number of 007 followers should go up when Skyfall’s marketing kicks into high gear, others are commenting it’s a sad state of affairs, etc. Does this mean anything? Who knows, but the statistics did draw a reaction.

One note, we’ve mentioned before. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn II, hits U.S. theaters on Nov. 16, one week after Skyfall. The first Twilight film debuted a week after Quantum of Solace in the U.S., and that Bond film saw its ticket sales slide 60 percent. Twilight won’t affect Bond fans making it to the theater. It remains to be seen whether the final Twilight movie could affect Skyfall attendance by film goers who aren’t hard-core 007 fans.

UPDATE I: Our friends at The James Bond Dossier suggested (on Twitter) that we compare the number of followers for both on Facebook, because Twitter users tend to be more tech savy while Facebook has a more general population. As of early Aug. 22, The Twilight Saga has 34,923,544 “likes” while the official 007 page has 1,097,319.

Harry Saltzman, the forgotten man, gets remembered

If the official 007 Twitter feed were your only source of information, you’d have to conclude the two guys on the left weren’t that important to the Bond movies.

It only took eight months and 319 posts, but the official 007 Twitter feed got around to mentioning Harry Saltzman, the co-founder of Eon Productions, which produces the James Bond film series.

OTDIBH: 1961, Eon Productions, the company behind the 007 series, was founded by producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman. ‪

The 007 Twitter feed, remember, is the official face of Eon as Skyfall, the 23rd 007 film, comes out this fall. The official Twitter feed didn’t get around to mentioning Ian Fleming, James Bond’s creator, until May 28 (the 104th anniversary of the author’s birth). It took even longer to recognize Saltzman who supervised script development of the earlier Bond movies. He was the one, for example, who brought in writers such as Paul Dehn and John Hopkins to revise Richard Maibaum’s drafts for Goldfinger and Thunderball.

Of course, if you checked out message boards on some James Bond Web sites, you’d see how some fans would claim that’s not really producing. In fact, supervising scripts is one of the most important things a movie producer does.

However, history is written by the winners. Saltzman sold out his interest in Eon in 1975 because he got into financial trouble. And the Broccoli-Salztman partnership was not an easy one.

Still, on the occasion of the golden anniversary of the cinema 007, it’s ridiculous to pretend as if Saltzman never existed. Saltzman, not Broccoli, had obtained the option for the film rights of the majority of Ian Fleming’s 007 novels. Without Saltzman, Eon would not come to be. If Broccoli had never met Saltzman (thanks to an introduction by writer Wolf Mankowitz), Cubby might have died the obscure producer of less-than-memorable screen epics such as The Bandit of Zhobe and Hell Below Zero.

The official 007 Twitter feed — and by extension, Eon itelf — avoided that level of ridiculousness today.

Happy 104th birthday, Ian Fleming

The man without whom, etc…

Today is what would have been Ian Fleming’s 104th birthday. Fleming created James Bond as he composed the first draft of the Casino Royale novel in Jamaica six decades ago. A decade later, after a number of false starts and aborted projects, the first film based on a Bond novels was filmed and released.

Those facts are well known by fans. Even though none of the 50th anniversary movie 007 hoopla wouldn’t be possible without him, Fleming’s name hasn’t come up much in connection with the 50th anniversary of the 007 movies. The main exceptions:

–A press conference on April 29 in Turkey where the Skyfall principals mentioned the author in some detail. Meanwhile, Fleming hasn’t received a mention in one of Skyfall’s main social media marketing efforts.

Earlier this month when the Daily Mail wrote about how Fleming was keen on interesting Alfred Hitchock about doing a Bond film.

That’s the way of the world, we suppose. Still, on this day fans should raise a vodka martini (or a double bourbon or a whiskey and soda or a Miller High Life) to an author who created a special world, one still enjoyed all these years later. Fans of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. should also join in thanks to Fleming’s contribution of the name Napoleon Solo.

UPDATE: The Official 007 Twitter feed, on its 242nd post since early November, finally mentioned Ian Fleming on the 104th anniversary of his birth. The Tweet in question apparently went out just before midday New York time.

A few Skyfall numbers studio bosses will watch

The countdown for Skyfall’s release this fall has begun. For example, the official 007 Twitter feed says the movie is now 22 weeks away so it has a contest where the “best Tweet” today, May 27, receives 22 James Bond movie posters “signed by producers.” On the other hand, we’re wondering about some numbers that studio bosses at Sony’s Columbia Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer will be watching:

$600 million: Minimum figure for Skyfall’s worldwide ticket sales to be considered successful.

The highest worldwide gross to date was Casino Royale’s $596.4 million in 2006. In the U.S., the average ticket price was for a movie was $6.55 that year, according to to the National Association of Theatre Owners. That rose to $7.93 last year, according to the trade group.

So, ticket prices will be higher for Skyfall and the movie will be available at higher-priced Imax theaters, a first for a 007 film. As a result, if Skyfall ticket sales total under $600 million, executives (regardless of what they say in public) will probably be disappointed.

$70 million: Minimum figure for Skyfall’s opening weekend in the U.S. to be seen as a success. The biggest U.S. opening weekend for the Bond series was $67.5 million for 2008’s Quantum of Solace, when the average ticket price was $7.18 each.

Now, some will argue that the U.S. isn’t that important to the Bond franchise, that most of its sales are interantional, etc. That’s true. But U.S. numbers are important to the perception of how well a movie is scoring with audiences.

Example: Battleship had sold $230 million in tickets outside the U.S.. However, because it only had a $23.5 million opening weekend in the U.S., the Deadline entertainment Web site, said it had “John Carter-low grosses for high cost (which is why the star of both pics, Taylor Kitsch, will be asking “You want fries with that?” very shortly).”

50 percent: Studios expect, at least in the U.S., a movie’s ticket sales to decline 50 percent during a film’s second weekend. If the figure comes in at 50 percent or lower, execs are happy. Quantum of Solace dropped 60 percent its second weekend in U.S. theaters, yielding the No. 1 spot to the first Twilight vampire movie. Skyfall, in its second weekend in the U.S., will be up against The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part II.

The statistic Sony and MGM will be looking at is whether Skyfall’s dropoff stays around 50 percent or if it’s worse, the way Quantum’s was.

Ian who? Harry what?

OK, enough is enough. Clearly, if the OFFICIAL 007 TWITTER FEED IS ANY INDICATION, Eon Productions hasn’t the slightest intention of recognizing the contributions of Ian Fleming (who created James Bond) and Harry Saltzman (Eon’s co-founder).

ON THIS DAY IN BOND HISTORY: Some old dude none of us 007 Twitter writers recognize showed up on the Goldfinger set.

On March 23, the official 007 Twitter feed noted this:

ON THIS DAY IN BOND HISTORY: 1964, Guy Hamilton shot the GOLDFINGER scene in which Bond meets and seduces Jill Masterson. #007 #SKYFALL

There was something else, based on photographs taken at the time, going on: Ian Fleming showed up on the Goldfinger set to chat with star Sean Connery and supporting player Shirley Eaton. A photograph of the meeting was taken and it’s one of the most-reproduced images of the 007 author showing up during filming of Bond movies. If it’s not the last, it’s one of the last.

Evidently, the 007 Twitter writers (or writer) didn’t know that or have any idea who this Ian Fleming character was. Reader’s Digest version: He wrote some novels featuring a character named James Bond. Without the novels, there aren’t any James Bond movies.

This week the official 007 Twitter account filed its 142nd Tweet. Number of mentions of Ian Fleming? Zero. While we were at it, we checked (based on a tip from the James Bond Dossier) the number of mentions of Harry Saltzman, the partner of Albert R. Broccoli for the first nine Bond films. Number of Saltzman mentions? Also zero.

Put another way, if Albert R. Broccoli had never met Ian Fleming (who created the character) or Harry Saltzman (who actually held the option to buy the film rights), Broccoli would not have won the Irving Thalberg Award in 1982 (an honary Oscar given to a producer). Broccoli likely would not have gotten an obituary in The New York Times. (Albert R. Broccoli, Producer of Hell Below Zero, Dies at 87? Please.)

We’ve brought this up before, including THIS POST and THIS POST. We got feedback that Cubby Broccoli definitely appreciated Ian Fleming and his daughter, Barbara Broccoli, and stepson, Michael G. Wilson, do too. That, we’re told, also applies to Harry Saltzman.

Perhaps. Even if that’s the case, people in the employ of Wilson and Broccoli (whether they be direct employees or outside contractors) haven’t got a clue.

007 Official Twitter feed by the numbers

This weekend, the official James Bond Twitter feed made it to 100 Tweets. So we worked up some numbers of our own:

Most mentioned 007 film other than Skyfall: GoldenEye (9). Runner up: Quantum of Solace (5).

Sorry, no Tweet for you..

Films not mentioned yet: From Russia With Love, You Only Live Twice, Diamonds Are Forever, The Man With the Golden Gun, Licence to Kill

Most mentioned actors: Naomie Harris, Berenice Marlohe (5 each).

Most mentioned crew member: Martin Campbell, director of GoldenEye and Casino Royale, and Sam Mendes, director of Skyfall (5 each).

Mentions of James Bond creator Ian Fleming: 0

UPDATE (Feb. 20): It’s now 101 Tweets as of early Feb. 20 and the number of GoldenEye mentions is up to 10.

How to work 007’s creator into the 50th anniversary activities

In a response to one of our POSTS ABOUT THE OFFICIAL 007 TWITTER ACCOUNT, Dell Deaton of the James Bond Watches Blog pointed out that, as of Feb. 4 there had been 69 Tweets, with not one mentioning 007 creator Ian Fleming.

A certain author so far not mentioned on the 007 Twitter feed

We took a look AT THE 007 TWITTER FEED and it’s now up to 86 87 Tweets as of 11:30 p.m. ET on Feb. 11 without Ian Fleming being mentioned. Marc Forester, the Quantum of Solace director, is the subject of three Tweets. Albert R. Broccoli getting his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame was referenced. So were birth dates of former production designer Ken Adam and supporting actors such as Gemma Arterton (Quantum of Solace) and Alan Cumming (GoldenEye).

Still, there’s a long time before the 23rd 007 film, Skyfall, premiers. So it’s not too late to include Bond creator Fleming. A few of the obvious ones:

Anniversaries of Fleming visiting Bond film sets or locations. Fleming was in Jamaica when Dr. No was being filmed and Istanbul for From Russia With Love. He talked to Sean Connery on the set of Dr. No and Goldfinger. We don’t have all those dates but given that From Russia With Love began filming in April 1963 and Goldfinger had principal photography start in the spring of 1964 (some second unit work was done earlier, already noted in a Jan. 20 Tweet), there are still opportunities to make note. That would be at least as worthy as Tweets about Robbie Coltrane starting two days of shooting on GoldenEye (Jan. 20), Quantum of Solace starting principal photography (Jan. 3) or a model of Atlantis being sunk as part of the filming for The Spy Who Loved Me (Jan. 13).

Might the anniversary of this meeting be worthy of mention on the 007 Twitter feed?

Happy birthday, Mr. Fleming:: May 28 will be the 104th anniversary of the author’s birth, another natural event to note among the historical Tweets.

Good-bye, Mr. Fleming: Fleming died Aug. 12, 1964, the month before Goldfinger had it’s U.K. premier. Again, a natural event to note among the historical Tweets.

The event that made it all possible: We don’t have the date, but the Bond film series would never have happened had Fleming not sold a six-month option for the Bond novels to Harry Saltzman. Without that deal, Albert R. Broccoli never forms Eon Productions with Saltzman. Perhaps the books are eventually made into films but not in the form we know them. Of course, that would also call on the official 007 Twitter account to acknowledge Saltzman and that the early films were not one-man Cubby Broccoli productions.