Bond 25 questions: James Bond Day edition

No Time to Die teaser poster

Another James Bond Day appears to be in the books. But the blog still has some questions about the meaning of the day’s events.

What’s this holiday’s name again?

In 2012, Global James Bond Day debuted. It was the 50th anniversary of when Dr. No had its U.K. debut. The new “holiday” was a marketing move to note the Bond film franchise’s 50th anniversary.

Since then, it’s had the name Global James Bond Day. Until this year.

Eon Productions (via a tweet) as well as Pinewood Studios (also in a tweet), Orlebar Brown (a maker of pricey 007-themed clothing, also in a tweet) and Aston Martin (you guessed it, in a tweet) all called it James Bond Day, with the “Global” taken off.

However, No Time to Die director Cary Fukunaga, in a video on his Instagram page, called it “International James Bond Day.”

The memo didn’t make it to many Bond fan sites that kept referring to it as Global James Bond Day.

What about the teaser poster?

It came out on (Global/International) James Bond Day. But it was a minimalist affair, with an image of Daniel Craig in a tuxedo.

What about the teaser trailer?

That’s an event for another day, apparently. We’re about six months from the debut of No Time to Die. So you’d think it’d be out sooner than later. But not on (Global/International) James Bond Day.

Who was responsible for the teaser poster?

Some fans on social media were inclined to blame studios (either MGM, Bond’s home studio or its distribution partners).

However, in 2015, Eon’s Michael Wilson said Eon does the marketing and studios just execute what Eon devises. If he was correct, Eon has some fingerprints on that poster.

What about those Bond-themed names for new roads at Pinewood Studios?

Pinewood said an expansion area will have a Michael G. Wilson Road and Skyfall Avenue. The announcement came as the future of Bond at Pinewood is up in the air.

Pinewood Group PLC, Pinewood’s owner, and Walt Disney Co. have announced a deal where Disney will lock up the vast bulk of Pinewood facilities in a long-term deal. Shepperton Studios, also owned by Pinewood Group, this summer reached a deal with Netflix that locks up most of that studio space.

It remains to be seen how this will play out. But it raises the possibility that Disney crews will travel on Michael G. Wilson Road and Skyfall Avenue so they can perform their day’s work. Not to mention going to the Albert R. Broccoli 007 Stage to do a day’s labor.

Bond 26 (!) questions: The Pinewood deal edition

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Over the weekend, Pinewood Studios announced that Walt Disney Co. had signed a deal to lease almost all of the revered London-area studio sound stages and production facilities.

Terms weren’t disclosed, but the deal may run for 10 years.

Given that Pinewood is the traditional home to James Bond film productions, the blog has questions how this may affect future James Bond films, starting with Bond 26.

OK. What does this mean for Bond 26?

There’s a good chance that Bond 26 — whenever that goes into development — may have to look for another home studio base.

But, couldn’t Disney sub-lease space at Pinewood to Eon Productions for Bond 26?

It could. But then again, why would Disney do so? Disney wouldn’t have cut such a deal unless it had production plans where it would need all that Pinewood space.

Put another way, Disney has never been known for sentimentality, even when “Uncle Walt” was running the place.

After Disney animators went on strike in 1941, some were fired. The Magic Kingdom may be part of Disney. But the Magic Kingdom is, in the end, a fairy tale.

Some of the Disney strike participants were among the founders and contributors of United Productions of America (UPA). UPA went on to win some Oscars and created characters such as Mr. Magoo and Gerald McBoing Boing.

Is there back story we should be aware of?

Pinewood is exiting Pinewood Atlanta, a joint venture. Pinewood is selling out to its partner. That operation will retain the Pinewood Atlanta name for up to 18 months.

Pinewood Atlanta has been the home base of some major productions by Disney-owned Marvel Studios, including the last two Avengers films. But that appears to be a things of the past.

What happens next?

No Time to Die, aka Bond 25, still is in production. We won’t know about Bond 26 for a long time, perhaps years.

With the increasingly long time in-between Bond films, Eon Productions will have plenty of time to look for a new home production base.

If something bigger happens — some kind of sale that would shake up the Bond status quo — that will have to play out before a search for new studio quarters. If Bond became part of the Disney fold, then presumably it could again film at Pinewood.

Meanwhile, Pinewood has just secured rent for the 007 Stage, the Roger Moore Stage and other studio facilities for years. That’s business.

UPDATE (11:35 a.m. New York time): The BBC has weighed in with a story about the deal. It has this line:

“Despite the Disney deal, it is believed that there is a possibility that, given its history, future James Bond films will still be filmed there.”

First of all, who believes this? Secondly, “a possibility” is less than definitive. Possibilities are not certainties.

UPDATE II (Sept. 11): This slipped by me at the time. In July, Netflix reached an agreement to lease almost all of the space at Sheppterton Studios (owned by Pinewood’s parent company). A July story in The Guardian has details. In effect, there’s now an arms race to lock up U.K. studio space.

Disney to lease most of Pinewood under new accord

Pinewood Group PLC logo

Pinewood Studios said today it has reached a long-term agreement with Walt Disney Co. where Disney productions will dominate the London-area studio.

Disney will “take all the stages, backlots and other production accommodation at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire,” Pinewood said in a short statement on its website.

No financial terms were disclosed.

The Times of London reported the deal is for 10 years and covers “all the space, except for a couple of TV studios.”

Pinewood is the traditional home base for James Bond films, although some,  including Moonraker, Licence to Kill and GoldenEye were based out of other studios.

No Time to Die,  the 25th James Bond film made by Eon Productions, is based out of Pinewood. Today’s announcement by Pinewood raises the question where Bond 26 will be based, whenever that film goes into development.

Last month, Pinewood said it was selling out its stake in Pinewood Atlanta. That facility had been the home base for major productions, including the last two Avengers movies for Disney-owned Marvel Studios.

Pinewood sells its stake in Atlanta studio

Pinewood Group PLC logo

Pinewood Group is selling its stake in Pinewood Atlanta, Deadline: Hollywood reported on Aug. 21.

The Atlanta operation, which opened in 2013, was a joint venture between Pinewood and a trust of the Cathy family. Pinewood sold its stake to its partner, Deadline said.

None of this affects the Bond films produced by Eon Productions. Those movies are made out of Pinewood’s home base near London. However, Pinewood Atlanta has been the base for major films, including Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame.

A brief excerpt from the Deadline story:

Pinewood will provide sales and marketing support for the (Atlanta) studios for a period of up to 18 months during which time the operation will remain branded and operated as a Pinewood facility. The partners say there will be no impact on productions shooting at the studios, which will continue to be led by Frank Patterson, president of the facility.

Pinewood Studios parent company agrees to be sold

Pinewood Group PLC logo

Pinewood Group PLC logo

Pinewood Group PLC, parent company of Pinewood Studios, agreed to be sold to PW Real Estate Fund for 323 million British pounds, or $423 million, REUTERS REPORTED.

Pinewood Studios has been the production home for most of the entries in the James Bond film series. Pinewood also has been the home base to other films, including Star Wars and the Christopher Reeve Superman movies.

Pinewood Group’s two biggest shareholders, who hold 65 percent of shares, accepted the offer, according to Reuters. The sale is subject to a vote by other shareholders.

Pinewood also operates a studio complex in the Atlanta area. It is owned by Chick-Fil-A founder Dan Cathy and other investors, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. The Cathy group will continue to own that studio operation, the newspaper said.

 

Pinewood Conducts Review; 007 film home may be sold

Pinewood Group PLC logo

Pinewood Group PLC logo

Pinewood Group PLC said Wednesday it’s conducting a “strategic review” that could lead to the company — the long-time studio home for the 007 films — to be sold.

Here’s an excerpt from the company’s press release:

The Board has now determined that it is appropriate to evaluate alternative opportunities to maximise value for the Company’s shareholders and to build on Pinewood’s successes to date. We believe there is a requirement for a funding strategy to be in place to fully realise the Company’s future potential…Accordingly, Rothschild has been appointed to assist with a strategic review of the overall capital base and structure, which could include a sale of the Company.

Pinewood has wanted to move to the main market of the London Stock Exchange from AIM, the market for smaller, growing companies. But, ACCORDING TO REUTERS, such a move is being hindered by the company’s tight ownership.

“As a result of a failed takeover attempt in 2011, Pinewood’s biggest shareholder Peel Group owns about 40 percent and Warren James Holdings has a 26 percent stake, Reuters data showed,” the news service reported. Bloomberg News said IN A SEPARATE STORY that Aviva PLC owns another 13 percent. All told, that means the large holders control 79 percent of Pinewood Shares. To get on the main market, a company needs to have at least 25 percent of its shares trading publicly, Bloomberg said.

Besides the bulk of the Bond films (including last year’s SPECTRE), Star Wars movies, the 1989 Batman and 1978 Superman films have been made at Pinewood’s main U.K. studios. The company has expanded to other locations, including Atlanta and Toronto.