Pinewood names a sound stage after Connery

Iconic publicity still for Goldfinger with Sean Connery leaning against the Aston Martin DB5.

Pinewood Studios announced it was naming a new stage after Sean Connery (1930-2020).

The London studio used what would have been the actor’s 92nd birthday to make the announcement.

“Officially named, The Sean Connery Stage, the 18,000 square foot purpose-built sound stage is one of five new stages opening on the Pinewood Studios lot,” Pinewood said.

The announcement, understandably, heavily references Connery as the first actor to play James Bond in the film series made by Eon Productions.

At the same time, the studio mentioned other films produced at Pinewood, and its sister facility Shepperton, featuring Connery.

“First passing through the gates of Pinewood Studios for Hell Drivers (1957), other titles from his extensive filmography include On the Fiddle (1961) at Shepperton, Woman of Straw (1964) at Pinewood, The Russia House (1990) Pinewood, Robin Hood – Prince of Thieves (1991) Shepperton, First Knight (1995) Pinewood and Entrapment (1999) at both Pinewood and Shepperton.”

Connery, over a long career, was more than Bond. He did many commercial movies but also appeared in productions such as The Offence and Zardoz.

For more about Connery’s career, see THE SEAN CONNERY HAIRPIECE PAGE.

Pinewood submits expansion plan

Pinewood Group logo

Pinewood Studios said it’s applying for “an expanded Screen Hub scheme” of 1.4 million square feet along with a 64-acre nature reserve to Buckinghamshire Council.

The expansion would be over two sites, according to a statement — “land to the south of the Studios referred to as ‘Pinewood South’ and ‘Alderbourne Farm’ to the north.”

The studio, part of Pinewood Group, said Pinewood South “would deliver 20 new purpose-built sound stages with workshops and offices on 82 acres of land to the south of the existing studios.”

Pinewood said its plans represent an investment of 800 British pounds ($956 million). The plans announced today represent a revision to a previous plan that received planning permission in April.

Pinewood is the traditional home for James Bond films and the studio also houses productions of Walt Disney Co.’s Marvel and Star Wars brands.

The proposed expansion is taking place as the U.K. is facing a tight supply of studio space.

How Bond 26 may be affected by London studio moves

h/t David Leigh of The James Bond Dossier

Willard Whyte was said to play Monopoly with real buildings. Major companies are doing that with London studios and that may affect Bond 26, eventually.

Pre-pandemic, Walt Disney Co. in 2019 signed a deal to lease most of Pinewood Studios in a long-term deal.

Pinewood, of course, was the production home to most James Bond films made by Eon Productions. Parts of studio property are named after Bond titles and personnel. One includes a road named after Eon’s Michael G. Wilson. And there is the Albert R. Broccoli 007 Stage.

Now, according to The Guardian, Amazon Prime Video has reached a long-term lease deal at Shepperton Studios in London. Netflix also has a big leasing deal at Shepperton.

Both Pinewood and Shepperton are owned by Pinewood Group.

In 2019, there was speculation whether Bond 26 (whenever that goes into production) might be forced to vacate Pinewood.

In 2021, Amazon, the parent company of Amazon Prime Video, agreed to purchase Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Bond’s home studio. That transaction, valued at $8.45 billion, isn’t final yet.

Still all this business dealing raises the question of whether Bond 26 might be based at Shepperton, rather than Pinewood. It’s way too early to tell. But it’s something for fans to keep an eye on.

Pinewood looks to add visitor attraction

Pinewood Group PLC logo

Pinewood Group PLC, the parent organization of Pinewood Studios, said today it’s looking to add a visitor attraction to the studio near London.

The company said the Pinewood Studio Experience would be 350,000 square feet. Pinewood also said there will be “new film production facilities with ‘live’ links to the Experience.”

“We have been looking at a visitor experience for some time and feel that now is the right moment to bring it forward,” Paul Golding, chairman of Pinewood Group, said in a statement. “The project will strengthen UK film and bring much needed jobs and spending.”

All of this is part of an expansion project dubbed Screen Hub UK. That project would be built on a 77-acre site south of the studio. The company is preparing an application for the project.

Pinewood Studios has been home base to most of the 25 James Bond films produced by Eon Productions.

RE-POST: Why Bond 25 didn’t economize

Daniel Craig in Skyfall

Updated from an April 3 post.

NEW INTRODUCTION: This past week, The Hollywood Reporter had a feature story about No Time to Die cast members Lashana Lynch and Ana de Armas that had a passing reference that the film’s budget was $250 million.

On Nov. 9, the Daily Mail had a story with a passing reference that the budget was 200 million British pounds ($257 million or so, depending on the conversion rate).

Regular readers of this blog were probably not surprised. In April, the blog had a post about why it was not likely the 25th James Bond film didn’t do much economizing.

Since that post was published, it became public knowledge that writer-actress Phoebe Waller-Bridge also worked on the movie’s script. Her reported fee (via The Hollywood Reporter) was $2 million. Thus, there’s even more evidence that spending on the movie continued on the high side.

Over the past few days, other outlets have picked up on the $250 million budget figure for No Time to Die. SPECTRE had a $245 million figure (after tax breaks, product placement and other incentives were factored in).

What follows in the text of the blog’s original post on the subject.

ORIGINAL APRIL POST: Bond 25 production got underway last week with some filming in Norway. There’s a lot we don’t know (including a title). But there are some signs that the film isn’t traveling in Economy Class.

Delays in production: Eon Productions began renting space at Pinewood Studios last year. But filming there has been delayed at least five months.

Eon couldn’t just give up that space. Demand for space at Pinewood is high. So that’s a few months without any footage actually being shot. That makes it harder to economize.

An expensive script doctor: Scott Z. Burns recently spent four weeks working on Bond 25’s script. He’s a well-regarded scribe and he’s moving into directing. His services are in demand. It’s likely his Bond 25 services didn’t come cheap. (UPDATE: Burns’s involvement was confirmed in late April at the “reveal” event in Jamaica.)

The star may have gotten a raise: Variety last year reported that Daniel Craig will receive $25 million for his fifth 007 film. The truth is known to Craig, Eon boss Barbara Broccoli, Craig’s agent and the various studios backing Bond 25. Still, it’s unlikely Craig’s services are receiving discounted rates.

The Mission: Impossible franchise means now isn’t the time to economize: This is a favorite fan theory/speculation. During the 2010s, the Mission: Impossible films starring and produced by Tom Cruise have cranked out three entries while Eon’s 007 series will have two.

Moreover, the M:I films have gotten a lot of attention for their stunts, big set pieces and international intrigue — things the 007 films are known for.

Paramount recently announced the Cruise M:I series will produce two more entries back-to-back, coming out in 2021 and 2022. By the time the latter entry is out, Cruise will be 60 and Christopher McQuarrie will have written and directed four films.

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.

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.

007 Stage damaged, injury suffered during Bond 25 filming

The 007 Stage at Pinewood Studios was damaged and a crew member suffered an injury during Bond 25 filming, the official 007 Twitter feed of Eon Productions said.

“During the filming of a controlled explosion on the set of Bond 25 today at Pinewood Studios, damage was caused to the exterior of the 007 Stage,” according to the post on Twitter. “There were no injuries on set, however one crew member outside the stage has sustained a minor injury.”

No additional details were available.

Filming has taken place at Pinewood following initial location filming in Jamaica.

(UPDATE 2:17 p.m. New York time): The Sun, Rupert Murdoch’s U.K. tabloid is out with a story. It came out before the Eon statement. The Sun made it sound as if the injury was more serious. You can read it for yourself.  Given the conflicting information, I’m going to hold off writing more until there’s more definitive word.

Why Bond 25 may not economize much

Daniel Craig in Skyfall

Bond 25 production got underway last week with some filming in Norway. There’s a lot we don’t know (including a title). But there are some signs that the film isn’t traveling in Economy Class.

Delays in production: Eon Productions began renting space at Pinewood Studios last year. But filming there has been delayed at least five months.

Eon couldn’t just give up that space. Demand for space at Pinewood is high. So that’s a few months without any footage actually being shot. That makes it harder to economize.

An expensive script doctor: Scott Z. Burns recently spent four weeks working on Bond 25’s script. He’s a well-regarded scribe and he’s moving into directing. His services are in demand. It’s likely his Bond 25 services didn’t come cheap.

The star may have gotten a raise: Variety last year reported that Daniel Craig will receive $25 million for his fifth 007 film. The truth is known to Craig, Eon boss Barbara Broccoli, Craig’s agent and the various studios backing Bond 25. Still, it’s unlikely Craig’s services are receiving discounted rates.

The Mission: Impossible franchise means now isn’t the time to economize: This is a favorite fan theory/speculation. During the 2010s, the Mission: Impossible films starring and produced by Tom Cruise have cranked out three entries while Eon’s 007 series will have two.

Moreover, the M:I films have gotten a lot of attention for their stunts, big set pieces and international intrigue — things the 007 films are known for.

Paramount recently announced the Cruise M:I series will produce two more entries back-to-back, coming out in 2021 and 2022. By the time the latter entry is out, Cruise will be 60 and Christopher McQuarrie will have written and directed four films.

Fake Eon invitation makes its way around the internet

Image made by Marcos Kontze, complete with misspelling of Pinewood Studios (“Pinweood”).

Marcos Kontze, editor of the James Bond Brasil website, came up with a bit of wishful thinking — an image of an Eon Productions invitation for a May 11 press conference at Pinewood Studios.

He posted one image on the message board of the MI6 James Bond website. He posted another on Twitter. “In desperate need for official news. I created this, wishing it could be true,” he wrote in his post on Twitter. The make-believe invitation is for the introduction of Bond 25’s director and title as well as revealing the “new studio” for the film.

There was a flaw in the image. It misspelled Pinewood as “Pinweood.” Despite that, it flew around the internet today, showing up in various places.

It may have influenced an Italian website called Talky Movie. According to a Google Translate translations of THIS POST, “The production would have convened the international press on 11 May at the historic Pinewood Studios in London to unveil the title of ‘Bond 25’ to the world. The event as reported on the web would participate all producers, primarily Barbara Broccoli, but also the new director Danny Boyle and the protagonist Daniel Craig…We’ll see if it’s a montage released on the net or if there is actually some announcement.”

James Bond Brasil is one of the most trafficked 007-related websites. In 2012, it got ahold of some Skyfall call sheets, something that caused a stir at time. In 2015, Mr. Kontze had photos taken of himself with SPECTRE crew members, including director Sam Mendes.