How not to write a Bond 25 story

Poster for SPECTRE

Like a cancer metastasizing throughout the body, The Mirror’s July 8 story saying Daniel Craig is definitely returning as James Bond is spreading through the media.

Various outlets, including the Los Angeles Times,  Fox News and Esquire have summarized the Mirror story.

However, The Mirror’s original and the stories based on it have mostly overlooked some key facts. Very important facts. Here are some of them.

There’s nobody to pay Daniel Craig — yet. The Mirror & Co. depict Eon Productions boss Barbara Broccoli as having a firm lock on his services.

Problem: Eon doesn’t pay the bills of a Bond movie. The studio or studios involved do.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer is Bond’s home studio. But it can’t release its own movies. It needs a studio partner to co-finance and distribute MGM films. And, for the moment, there is no Bond 25 distributor.

Maybe MGM reaches an agreement later this year. Maybe a commitment from Craig (even a verbal commitment) helps that process. But until it happens, nobody is available to actually pay Daniel Craig if he, indeed, is coming back.

There’s no director yet. You can’t have a movie without a director calling the shots. Maybe Bond 25 will get a director later this year. But until it does, not much is going to happen.

There’s no script yet. Neal Purvis and Robert Wade were hired to come up with a story, according to the Daily Mail’s Baz Bamigboye, who has had a number of 007 scripts proven correct this decade.

The duo have had more than four months (and perhaps longer) to work up a story. But until a director comes on board, things can only go so far. Directors love to tweak story elements, etc. And that process can’t begin until you have a director, etc.

What’s this John Logan reference? The Mirror says John Logan, who worked on Skyfall and SPECTRE, is working on Bond 25. There’s no evidence that’s the case.

If it really is true, that would be a big turnaround. Thanks to the Sony hacks of 2014 (Sony Pictures released the last four 007 films), it’s known that Eon was unhappy with Logan’s first draft for SPECTRE, something that eventually led to the return of Purvis and Wade.

If (and that’s a HUGE if) Logan really is involved with Bond 25 that’s a major change. But, of course, you’d have to be familiar with the history to make note of that.

Has anything changed the past three months? In April, Page Six, the gossip operation of the New York Post also said Barbara Broccoli pretty much had Daniel Craig committed.

Has something actually changed since that report? The Page Six story got nowhere near the attention the Mirror has. Regardless, it’s a notable piece of background.

Our latest Bond 25 questions

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

It’s summer. Instead of going to the beach the blog came up with some new Bond question after this weekend’s story by the U.K. tabloid Mirror saying Daniel Craig would play 007 for a fifth time.

Here goes.

What’s the difference between the July 8 Mirror story and an April 3 Page Six column

Not that much on the main point.

“Daniel Craig has changed his mind and is set to sign up for his fifth Bond movie,” The Mirror said.

“Multiple sources tell Page Six that Bond franchise producer Barbara Broccoli has ‘just about persuaded Daniel Craig to do one more Bond movie,'” Page Six said more than three months earlier.

How solid is this newest story?

Reading the Mirror story is like trying to read quicksand — mushy and opaque.

The Mirror’s story begins by making like Craig’s return is a done deal. “But Bond producer Barbara Broccoli is said to have secured Craig – and we can reveal she is ‘determined’ that superstar singer Adele will record the theme tune.”

To support this notion, the story presents a quote from a person it didn’t identify.

“It’s taken time but Daniel has come round and the strong consensus in the Bond offices is that Mr Craig is 007 again.” (Emphasis added.)

Whoa! Consensus? Bond offices? Did the office personnel at Eon take a vote? Isn’t Barbara Broccoli the one who decides everything? At least that’s what Sam Mendes has said.

The Mirror’s first paragraph said he’s set to sign on the dotted line. What’s this about a consensus? Is there some doubt, even a tiny bit? What gives?

Anything give you pause?

Adele has injured her vocal chords and canceled the last two stops of a tour. That’s a potentially serious situation for a professional singer.

Despite that, the Mirror says, “Although Adele had to cancel the final two shows of her world tour because of damaged vocal chords, Barbara is said to be ‘talking the singer round’.”

Is this really the time to make a hard to Adele to sell to sing a Bond song — for a movie with no director or release date?

Also, the Mirror says, “Skyfall and Spectre scriptwriter John Logan is also said to be involved in the project.”

That’s interesting because Logan’s first draft for SPECTRE was judged to need extensive reworking. So much so, that veteran 007 screenwriters Neal Purvis and Robert Wade were brought back to revise Logan’s work. The extent of SPECTRE’s scripting difficulties became public as a result of the 2014 hacking at Sony Pictures.

Baz Bamigboye of the Daily Mail reported in March that Purvis and Wade were hired to start work on a Bond 25 story.

That’s not been officially confirmed but Bamigboye has a good track record of 007 scoops that prove to be correct.

Now, out of the blue, the Mirror brings Logan into the conversation. This is perhaps the shakiest aspect of the Mirror story.

Barbara Broccoli busy on non-007 projects, NY Post says

Barbara Broccoli

Eon Productions boss Barbara Broccoli remains busy on non-James Bond projects and friends say “she’s not sure when the next 007 film will shoot,” the New York Post’s Page Six gossip column said.

The gossip column quoted unidentified sources as saying the producer “is not waiting around” for actor for actor Daniel Craig to “get off his arse.”

Page Six didn’t specify Broccoli’s movie projects. The movie Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool is scheduled to be released later this year. Variety reported in February Broccoli is involved with another drama titled Nancy. The MI6 James Bond website said in March that Eon also is working on a historical war movie.

The gossip column also referenced how Broccoli is producing a play based on the life of movie producer and executive Robert Evans.

Appropriate caveat: Page Six and the Post are known for their gossipy, tabloid tone. The Post is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., which owns the U.K. tabloid The Sun.

If Page Six is to be believed, Bond 25 still is in its earliest stages and Craig’s return as Bond hasn’t been nailed down. Page Six said in April that Craig was likely to return as Bond.

The Daily Mail reported in March that scribes Neal Purvis and Robert Wade were hired to work on Bond 25’s story.

Our newest Bond 25 questions

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

There’s been a bit of Bond 25 news recently. Or has there?

Here are some questions intended to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Script? Neal Purvis and Robert Wade are working on a Bond 25 story, according to a report by the Daily Mail’s Baz Bamigboye last month. Eon Productions never confirmed it, but typically it hasn’t confirmed other 007 scoops Bamigboye had about Skyfall and SPECTRE.

How far along are Purvis and Wade? Maybe not very far.

The duo are in the midst of adapting the novel I Am Victor, according to an April 5 story in Deadline: Hollywood.

If Deadline is accurate, the writers “are understood to be finalizing the script before it goes out to cast.” That suggests Purvis and Wade are, at best, in early days of their Bond 25 work.

Meanwhile, there’s a possibility of a Writer’s Guild strike early next month, which would adversely affect movie and television production.

What about that New York Post gossip column? Page Six says Eon Productions boss Barbara Broccoli is close to getting Daniel Criag to coming back for Bond 25. But it doesn’t actually say it’s a done deal.

So? There’s still no Bond 25 director. There’s still no Bond 25 distributor. Sony Pictures, which distributed the last four 007 films, saw its most recent two-picture 007 deal with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer expire with SPECTRE.

What are you trying to say? The blog is trying to say there may be more chaff than wheat at this point.

–You have a star (Craig) who hasn’t publicly committed, despite plenty of opportunity to do so.

–You have a production company (Eon) that seems in no rush to produce the next Bond movie and is keeping busy on various non-007 projects.

–You have a studio (MGM) that seems busy with other matters.

The Wall Street Journal reported in February that MGM was trying to sell itself to a Chinese buyer but the deal fell apart. MGM never denied the story and at last month’s investor call, the subejct never came up.

Meanwhile, MGM agreed this week to spend $1 billion to give itself sole ownership of the Epix premium TV channel. If the Epix investment works out, that would help MGM’s finances every year. Bond movies, still one of MGM’s biggest assets, come out only so often.

MGM doesn’t have a studio partner to release Bond 25. Sony Pictures has released the last four Bonds, but Sony’s most recent two-picture deal expired with SPECTRE.

In March 2016, MGM CEO Gary Barber had this to say about seeking a new 007 distribution deal.

“There’s no rush,” Barber said. “We’re evaluating all of our options. We will advise on the deal when we actually make it.”

Obviously, he was right about the “no rush” part.

Craig likely to return as Bond, NY Post says

Eon co-boss Barbara Broccoli and current 007 star Daniel Craig

Eon Productions boss Barbara Broccoli is on the verge of getting Daniel Craig to come back for a fifth appearance as James Bond, the New York Post’s Page Six gossip column said late Monday.

Here’s an excerpt:

Multiple sources tell Page Six that Bond franchise producer Barbara Broccoli has “just about persuaded Daniel Craig to do one more Bond movie.” This comes after Broccoli produced his hit off-Broadway production of “Othello” with David Oyelowo, which won Craig the serious acting plaudits he craved.

A Hollywood source said, “Daniel was very pleased with how ‘Othello’ went and the great reviews. Now Daniel’s talks with Barbara are going in the right direction. They have a script — screenwriting duo Neal Purvis and Robert Wade [who’ve penned several Bond movies] are writing and they’ll go into production as soon as Daniel is ready to commit.”

Page Six goes on to say that Broccoli wasn’t impressed with actor Tom Hiddleston, mentioned as a would-be replacement for several months last year. The gossip column said Broccoli and Craig didn’t answer requests for comment.

The return of Purvis and Wade as writers was reported last month by Baz Bamigboye of the Daily Mail.

Both Broccoli and Craig have other work over the next several months. Broccoli is involved with various non-Bond films, including one where Eon purchased a helicopter. That spurred publicity it might be for Bond 25. Craig will be in Purity, a made-for-cable-television series for Showtime.

Also, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, home studio for the Bond films, has yet to line up a distribution partner. Sony Pictures has distributed the past four 007 movies but its most recent two-picture deal expired with SPECTRE.

As 007’s lost year ends, will Eon follow its own advice?

James Bond, feeling sad after examining his back story one more time.

James Bond, feeling sad after examining his back story one more time.

As 2016 draws to a close, the future of the film James Bond is a little up in the air.

It’s been a bit of a lost year. No progress toward a finding a studio to release Bond 25. No public announcement about a writer or director. No hint about a release date.

With that in mind, will Eon Productions follow its own advice about how to carry on a film franchise?

On July 31, 2012, Eon’s Michael G. Wilson gave an address about the subject. Among his recommendations:

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is a “formula for complacency”

 “It’s important to change things, to get ahead of the curve before things taper off,” Wilson said.

In the last week, tabloids in the U.S. and U.K. have come out with studios saying that Eon or Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer are determined that Daniel Craig’s decade-long reign as 007 continue.

The Page Six feature of the New York Post said Eon boss Barbara Broccoli is producing the off-Broadway play Othello, where Craig plays Iago, to eventually get the actor back for Bond 25. The U.K. Mirror said MGM was “panicked” after not hearing anything from Craig.

If there’s any truth to either (which remains to be seen), it doesn’t appear as if anyone is looking to make a major change.

“Believe in your brand. Cubby Broccoli used to say Bond is the star”

“That means that Bond is bigger than any actor who portrays him,” Wilson said, “and no writer, director or producer is indispensable.”

“It all boils down to don’t be afraid of change”

“The Bond films have been recast six times and each time the series was re-evented,” Wilson said. “Each actor brought out different aspects of the character.”

“We believe story is not an element, the story is a key to a good film.”

The last two Bond films, Skyfall and SPECTRE, included Bond confronting his backstory. They sold a lot of tickets in theaters.

Eon could continue down that path. Perhaps Bond could discover his father wasn’t his actual father. The agent could confront, yet again, a major personal crisis. That could yield many dramatic moments.

Or the filmmakers could change yet again.

If you want to watch Wilson make his comments, the quotes cited here begin after the 11:00 mark:

NY Post ties Othello, Bond 25 in plan to get Craig back

Eon co-boss Barbara Broccoli and current 007 star Daniel Craig

Eon boss Barbara Broccoli and current 007 star Daniel Craig

Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post tabloid says Daniel Craig’s Othello play actually is part of a plan by Eon Productions boss Barbara Broccoli to get the actor back — eventually — for Bond 25. Broccoli is a producer of the play, where Craig plays Iago.

The story ran Dec. 11 in the paper’s Page Six gossip feature.

Here’s an excerpt:

(A) source told Page Six of “Othello” and Bond, “Daniel thinks of himself as a ‘serious actor,’ and he wants to stretch his artistic muscles. And Barbara really believes in his talent. For her to do this [play] for him is a gift — of course she wants him back — this is going to entice him to make another Bond movie.” The insider said Broccoli would ask Craig back for the next 007 film, “Bond 25,” sometime after the play’s run. Other insiders add that Craig is amenable to a return to Bond after a hiatus of a few years when he’ll tackle “more serious roles.” (emphasis added)

The story (originally credited to “Page Six team” but now having a byline of Ian Mohr) also quotes a source as saying, “All those people are not in the running,” when asked about “the heated speculation over actors who could take over the role. The story specifically lists Idris Elba, Tom Hiddleston, Michael Fassbender and Jack Huston. It’s not 100 percent clear whether the source was asked about others who’ve been subject of such speculation.

Normally, the blog would put Caveat Emptor in the headline but it wouldn’t fit. Even if true, the Page Six story raises the question just how long a hiatus Craig wants for Bond 25.