Eon’s new normal

Barbara Broccoli

Barbara Broccoli

For Eon Productions, which produces James Bond films, the old normal was trying to make a 007 film every other year, maybe every third year.

The new normal: A Bond film maybe every third year (Bond 24, the next movie is scheduled for the fall of 2015), with various other projects in-between.

Examples of the new normal as it applies to non-Bond projects: a new U.K. stage production based on the Alfred Hitchock movie Strangers On a Train and, possibly, a movie based on a Glenn Greenwald book about Edward Snowden.

The latter depends if Sony Corp.’s Sony Pictures wins the bidding for the rights to the Greenwald book according to AN OCT. 11 STORY IN THE NEW YORK TIMES. Other studios are also seeking the rights to the book, according to the Times story. (Broccoli didn’t respond to the newspaper’s requests to comment.)

This follows the stage production of Once, where WHERE EON CO-BOSSES BARBARA BROCCOLI AND MICHAEL G. WILSON were among the producers. The duo have also been interested in a remake of a 1957 horror movie called Curse of the Demon or Night of the Demon depending on where it was released.

When Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman co-founded Eon Productions in 1961, they planned to do non-007 projects. The duo did produce the Bob Hope comedy Call Me Bwana. After that, however, they went their separate ways on non-Bond material. Saltzman produced the Harry Palmer series and other films without Broccoli. Broccoli produced Chitty Chitty Bang Bang without Saltzman.

By the 1970s, Broccoli was concentrating on the Bond series primarily. Saltzman pursued other projects but financial problems forced him to sell off his interest in 1975.

Under the new normal, Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson appear to be following the Saltzman model — exploring stage and film projects beyond the 007 series — more than the Albert R. Broccoli model. Or perhaps they’re going back to the model that Albert Broccoli and Harry Saltzman intended to follow.

In any event, Barbara Broccoli, in a NOVEMBER 2012 INTERVIEW WITH THE LOS ANGELES TIMES signaled not to expect Bond movies to come out as often as they once did.

“Sometimes there are internal pressures from a studio who want you to make it in a certain time frame or for their own benefit…We have to keep the deadlines within our own time limits.”

Wilson and Broccoli’s plans for a non-007 horror project

Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, co-bosses of Eon Productions, want to do a non-007 horror project. In fact, this project has kicked around for a few years and would be based on a story that generated a 1957 movie and multiple radio adaptations.

The 1957 movie based on an M.R. James story

Background: The official Web site of the Broadway musical Once, based on a 2006 movie,which picked up a number of Tony awards, had THIS REFERENCE about creative personnel responsible for the show.

John Carney (Writer and Director of the Film, Once)

John Carney is a Dublin-based writer director who came to the world’s attention following the box office hit and critically acclaimed musical feature film Once, which garnered multiple Independent Spirit, Sundance and Raindance awards. Previously, John was a bassist in the Irish rock band the Frames, where he met Glen Hansard. These musical roots continue to be evident in John’s work with his latest production, Can a Song Save Your Life?, heading into production in NYC in 2012. Other upcoming projects include Dogs of Babel for David Heyman and Nathan Kahane starring Steve Carell and a feature adaptation of M.R. James’s Casting the Runes for Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson. (emphasis added)

Wilson and Broccoli (not to mention Frederick Zollo, Broccoli’s husband) are among a group of producers for Once, the Broadway show. So this isn’t something that came from a U.K. tabloid newspaper. Anyway, Casting the Runes is a story by M.R. James (1862-1936), a writer of ghost stories. It was adapted in 1947, 1974 and 1981 for radio. It also was the basis of a 1957 movie titled Night of the Demon in the U.K. and Curse of the Demon in the U.S.

The movie starred Dana Andrews and involved a demonic cult. You can read a detailed summary BY CLICKING HERE. By coincidence, the crew includes two people who’d have an impact on 007: writer Charles Bennett (co-scripter of the 1954 CBS version of Casino Royale) and production designer Ken Adam, who’d design the sets of seven Bond films.

The Once Web site isn’t the first time Broccoli and Wilson signaled their interest in the project. In 2009, there was a program at the University of Southern California about James Bond in the 21st Century that included a number of panelists involved with 007 movies. Speakers included Wilson, Broccoli and 007 screenwriters Neal Purvis and Robert Wade. The PROGRAM DESCRIPTION included this reference to Purvis and Wade:

After delivering their screenplay for Quantum of Solace, they wrote Barbarella for director Robert Rodriguez, to be produced in 2009 by Dino DeLaurentiis, and have adapted John Le Carre’s latest novel, The Mission Song, for producers Simon Channing-Williams and Gail Egan. Their most recent collaboration is with director John Carney, on an adaptation of an M.R. James horror story, Casting the Runes.

Is Casting the Runes still an active project? Hard to say. Potential movies can kick around for years (just ask fans of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. who’ve waited for decades to see if a movie version would develop). But it would appear it’s still of interest to the co-chiefs of Eon.