Variety looks at 50 years of James Bond

Variety has a package of stories about the 50th anniversary of James Bond films. You can CLICK HERE to see all the stories. Among them:

Variety examines 50 years of James Bond


–A profile of Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, the co-bosses of Eon Productions. (It mistakenly says they are step-siblings; they’re actually half-siblings, each having the same mother).

–A look at the impact different directors had on the franchise.

–A piece by Jon Burlingame that examines John Barry’s music and how it affected the 007 films.

–A story about how 007 was important to getting Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer through bankruptcy and how MGM bosses want to get Bond films back on a regular production schedule.

–How automakers have been involved with the series as part of product-placement deals.

How did the 007-Heineken deal become such a big deal?

The flap over Heineken’s product-placement deal with Skyfall, the 23rd James Bond movie, isn’t going away. How’d that happen? After all, James Bond drank beer in some of Ian Fleming’s original stories. He had beer in some movies, as recently as 2008′s Quantum of Solace, the most recent 007 flick.

"James, was this beer deal such a good idea?"
"Pass me a Heineken, Felix!"


With 20-20 hindsight, it’s not that surprising. Here’s what led to the situation:

The financial conditions of two studios: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which owns half the 007 franchise, recently was in bankruptcy court, emerging as a smaller company. It ended up cutting a deal with Sony Corp. to distribute Skyfall (and the next 007 film). But Sony has financial problems of its own. That meant:

Skyfall was going to rely heavily on product placement: The Sunday Times of London reported 11 month ago that MGM and Sony were looking to product placement deals to supply as much as one-third of Skyfall’s budget (this link shows the version of the Sunday Times story that appeared in The Australian). Months later, Skyfall star Daniel Craig tactily admitted that product placement was vital to Skyfall.

As a result, the media and some fans were on red alert: Bond movies had been criticized before for what seemed like excessive product placement. Some fans noted how 1979′s Moonraker included plenty of plugs for Marlboro cigarettes, British Airways and 7-Up. The 2006 Casino Royale movie, Craig’s debut as Bond, was noted for how it shoehorned a reference for Omega watches into a key scene with Craig’s Bond and Eva Green’s Vesper Lynd. Documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, who had done a film on product placement, included 007 films in his critique.

The initial announcement of Heineken’s Skyfall deal wasn’t handled well: Heineken’s Feb. 8 press release announcing the product-placement deal had a lot of chest-thumping by both the company and Eon Productions, which produces the 007 movies:

Alexis Nasard, Chief Commercial Officer of HEINEKEN said: “When two great brands like Heineken® and James Bond join together, excitement is guaranteed. We are proud of our long standing partnership. The trust that we have built has allowed us to take the partnership to a new level by linking SKYFALL directly with our award winning global ‘Open Your World’ campaign. We are confident our activation plan will ignite the conversation with our consumers and film viewers.”

Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, the SKYFALL producers added: “The level of collaboration with Heineken® is unprecedented. We are excited by the global reach and the creativity that the Heineken® team is able to deliver.”

Of course, Heineken and Eon could have mentioned that 007 had consumed beer in Ian Fleming’s novels and Eon’s movies. Evidently, they were so busy discussing how wonderful they were, that fact just couldn’t be squeezed into the press release. Make no mistake, when a press release quotes an executive, those quotes are approved by the executive ahead of time. This wasn’t an oversight. This is the message Heineken and Eon wanted to get across. Translation of said message: “We’re wonderful, you’re lucky to have us.”

Timing is everything: In this case, the timing was bad. Yes, Bond drank more than just martinis on the page and on the screen. (In Live And Let Die, director Guy Hamilton and screenwriter Tom Mankiewicz made a point of having first-time 007 Roger Moore drink bourbon to avoid comparisons with Sean Connery.) But Bond was, for better or worse, identified with martinis in movies.

In addition, the Casino Royale reboot shook things up. The movie turned the traditional Bond formula on its head as we watched a thuggish Bond learn to be a gentleman. They could have chose to shown how a gentleman learned to become tough (this is not an original observation on our part) but the filmmakers didn’t take that approach. During Casino Royale’s marketing, we were told, the film shows “how James became Bond.” We were told by the end of the movie, the James Bond we all knew would emerge. Then, in 2008′s Quantum of Solace, we were told that James wasn’t Bond just yet. Hence, the gunbarrel scene, again, wasn’t at the start of the movie.

As a result, in the last six years, Bond fans have processed at lot of change. The Heineken deal meant yet more change and that’s been the theme of much of the coverage since the deal was first announced. Maud Adams, who appeared in two 007 films, said “this has gone too far. Martini was something elegant when I served Roger Moore and it is elegant to this day.”

Some fans say this was all planned by Heineken to get publicity. We doubt it. Most companies don’t like publicity where people dump on you. This probably will blow over. Then again, we first thought this would have blown over by now.

UPDATE: According to A YAHOO! MOVIES POST blog post, Michael G. Wilson told reporters in Mexico (he was speaking from the U.K.) that: “Bond would sup Heineken in the film, but added that he would drink Vodka Martinis as well.”

The literary James Bond and beer

The product-placement deal between Skyfall, the 23rd James Bond film, and Heineken has gotten some 007 fans worked up. Yahoo! Movie’s MovieTalk blog did an April 4 post summarizing fan reaction. An exerpt:

"Martini, James?"
"No. Make mine Heineken (R)."

“D**** you, Product Placement,” Doug wrote on Twitter in response to our update on @YahooMovies. Davey C simply tweeted “Screw ‘em.” Dave Yakir echoed thoughts with a “what a load of crap” tweet, and Keith Williams typed, “Booooo!!!”

The James Bond of Ian Fleming’s original novels and short stories was no stranger to beer, though he didn’t drink it with the same frequency as martinis, bourbon, whiskeys and soda or champagne. But here is a sampling:

Diamonds Are Forever (1956): Bond and Felix Leiter are driving to Saratoga from New York City. The duo “stopped for lunch at The Chicken in the Basket, a log-built Frontier-style road-house with standard equipment…(T)he scrambled eggs and sausages and hot buttered rye toast and the Miller Highlife beer came quickly and were good.”

The Living Daylights (1962): Bond is in Berlin. One one of three nights a British agent will cross the border between East and West and 007 is to shoot a KGB assassin. During one afternoon, after a two-hour walk, has a meal in a restaurant. He has two Molle mit Korn, which we’re told is a double schapps “washed down with draught Lowenbrau.”

The Man With the Golden Gun (1965): Trying to get a lead on killer Fransisco Scaramanga, Bond stops by a brothel and orders a Red Stripe beer. The woman taking his order “deftly uncapped the bottle and put it on the counter besides an almost clean glass.”

In 2006, the Brookston Beer Bulletin blog had a long post (CLICK HERE to read it; the post also has a longer list of other times the literary Bond had beer) that addressed the possibility 007 might have a Heinken in that year’s Casino Royale movie. The blog did not approve of that brand.

But Heineken? Not Heineken. Bond’s character would never drink such swill. He wouldn’t be a snob about wine, food, clothes, cars and practically everything else and then drink such a pedestrian beer.

(snip)

The fictional resort town where most of the (Casino Royale) novel takes place is supposedly near the mouth of the Somme River in the Picardie region, which is only about two hours from Belgium. So while France is not known for its beers, a good selection of Belgian beers would likely be available at the casino and area restaurants. That’s what a beer savvy Bond would order.

We suspect all of this will depend how the Heineken placement is handled. If Daniel Craig’s Bond has a Heineken while still having other drinks, no problem. On the other hand, if it’s handled like this recent Hawaii Five-0 episode with Subway, audiences may wince:

The proprietor of the James Bond Dossier was interviewed by the CBC about product placement and the Heineken deal. Just CLICK HERE to check it out.

UPDATE (April 8): The Scotsman.com Web site has weighed in on the subject and you can CLICK HERE to read it. The article starts off with an anecdote that appears to have been taken from the 1998 book Adrian Turner on Goldfinger. We say appears because the quotes are the same as the ones Turner got from interviewing Guy Hamilton. There’s no attribution of the quotes, however.

UPDATE II (April 9): Looks like the Web site of Bloomberg Businessweek also ran a short article on the subject.

Mendes will direct Heineken ad with Craig, Ad Age says

Sam Mendes, the director of Skyfall, will direct a Heineken ad featuring Daniel Craig as 007, Advertising Age reported in a story you can view BY CLICKING HERE.

Skyfall director Sam Mendes


Here’s an excerpt:

(James) Bond, played by Daniel Craig, will star in a Heineken ad. The spot, which will run globally, is by brand agency-of-record Wieden & Kennedy, Amsterdam, and directed by Sam Mendes, the film’s director. In the movie, Bond will swap his trademark martini for a sip of the brew — at least in one scene. The integration, which will include Bond images on packaging, marks the largest activation in the brand’s 15-year partnership with the 007 franchise, according to the brewer.

Bond is best known for vodka martinis, though in Ian Fleming’s novels he also consumed bourbon, whiskey and sodas., sake and all sorts of other alcohol beverages. Presumably, this is part of a deal Heinken announced in an awkwardly written press release.

Literary magazine gets free Skyfall exposure, Daily Mail says

The magazine Literary Review will appear as a prop in Skyfall, which amounts to free exposure for the publication, the U.K. Daily Mail newspaper said in a Nov. 19 article.

An excerpt:

So keen were the film’s makers to paint a rounded picture of M, the fictional head of MI6 played by Dame Judi Dench, that they approached the magazine’s publishers for permission to use it.

A copy of the October issue, which features an image of Charles Dickens on the cover, is now set to appear as a prop in a scene set in M’s flat.

According to the story, this isn’t product placement and no money changed hands.

Bond 23 to have tighter budget, The Sun says

The Sun, the U.K. tabloid newspaper, says Bond 23 will be made on a tighter budget than previous entries in the series.

The story (which you can read BY CLICKING HERE) leads off by saying Daniel Craig will grow a beard for the movie. But this passage caught our eye:

The film is going to be made on a shoestring budget in comparison to the last few.

A source said: “They’ve really scaled back.

“The lavish production and locations have been cut.

“There is only a reduced cast and crew travelling to the few overseas destinations.”

The Sun gets no more specific than that, nor describes how the source came across the information. The paper also doesn’t provide a specific budget figure. (It also has a plot spoiler if you care to read the story).

This is the second report (at least indirectly) referring to a smaller budget for Bond 23. The Times of India, IN A STORY IN AUGUST said Bond 23′s budget was $135 million. That newspaper didn’t specify how it got that figure, not even attributing it to a source, just stating the number.

Quantum of Solace had a budget of $230 million, according to The Numbers.com Web site. As we’ve noted before, a reduced Bond 23 budget would make sense. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which controls half the 007 franchise, reorganized itself in bankruptcy court. Sony Corp., whose Columbia Pictures will distribute Bond 23, is having its own financial tough times. It’s up to MGM and Sony to finance Bond 23 and the world is a lot different in 2011 than it was in 2008.

UPDATE: The $135 million figure may have originated with a story in the Sunday Times of London earlier this year. You can read a version that ran on The Australian’s Web site by CLICKING HERE. That story said MGM and Sony intended to raise $45 million, or one-third of Bond 23′s production budget, through product placement deals.

Simple math — 45 multiplied by 3 — gives you $135 million.

Bond 23 to begin filming Nov. 7, The Sun says

Bond 23 is start production on Nov. 7, according to a report in U.K. newspaper, The Sun. The story is brief but contains this passage:

When shooting starts on November 7, the actor will have to switch from a Range Rover to a Jaguar – with both motors on the move.

Jaguar and Land Rover were part of product placement in 2002′s Die Another Day in a deal meant to show off Ford Motor Co.’s European luxury offerings. Gustav Graves was driven to receive his knighthood (after making a showy parachute jump) in a Land Rover while Graves henchman Zao drove a tricked-out Jaguar in a car chase with an Aston Martin driven by Bond (Pierce Brosnan).

Ford sold off Aston Martin in 2007 and Jaguar and Land Rover in 2008. Jaguar and Land Rover are now owned by India’s Tata Motors Ltd.

To read the entire story in The Sun, JUST CLICK HERE.

A brief (incomplete) 007 product placement history

So, Bond 23 will have a record amount of product placement, according to the Sunday Times. Agent 007 isn’t exactly a virgin when it comes to the subject.

In Bond’s debut film adventure, you could see Smirnoff vodka and Red Stripe beer. Then again, Dr. No only had a $1 million budget and was modestly budgeted. The brand name referneces reflected what you’d see in a James Bond novel by Ian Fleming.

Things picked up with the third 007 film, Goldfinger. There were vehicles from Ford Motor Co. (Tilly’s Mustang, Felix Leiter’s Thunderbird, the Ford trucks in Goldfinger’s convoy going to Fort Knox and the Lincoln Continental where gangster Mr. Solo had his “pressing engagement”). Not to mention Gillette shaving products and Kentucky Fried Chicken, evidently Felix’s favorite fast food place while maintaining survellence on criminal masterminds. The film’s director, Guy Hamilton, had this to say to film historian Adrian Turner:

I used to get a little bit angry when Harry (Saltzman) used to come on the set. In the plane scene with Pussy Galore, when Bond haves, the whole thing was a Gillette exercise. You never saw anything like it. There was Gillette foam, Gillette aftershave…I said, ‘Harry what are you doing? It’s eight in the morning, the crew haven’t arrived and your’e dressing a set?’ He’d done a deal with Gillette and we were going to get sixpence to use their stuff.”
(Adrian Turner on Goldfinger, 1998, pages 158-59)

With Thunderball, Ford was even more out in force: Fiona Volpe’s Mustang, not one but two Lincoln Continentals and Count Lippe’s aging Ford Fairlane. Ford did a promotional film, “How to Blow Up a Motor Car,” and Henry Ford II, then the CEO of Ford had a cameo in the movie. For You Only Live Twice, Japanese financial titans had an impact, including television monitors by Sony and Aki’s Toyota (not orignally a convertible but it was transformed into one).

Ford was back in Oh Her Majesty’s Secret Service (Tracy’s Mercury Cougar) and Diamonds Are Forever (Tiffany Case’s Mustang that Bond drove to great effect). GM managed to get its Chevrolet division as the primary auto supplier for Live And Let Die but it appears only one type of model could be supplied. The Man With The Golden Gun had the only 007 appearance for American Motors (later absorbed by Chrysler).

Moonraker is remembered by some fans for excessive product placement. A long Rio sequence has multiple referneces to 7 Up, British Airways and Marlboro cigarettes (including the use of Elmer Bernstein’s theme for The Magnifcent Seven, which Marlboro would use for television commercials in the 1960s). United Artists initially hoped to make the movie for $20 million. The budget came in closer to $35 million, so it’s not much of a stretch to speculate the product placement was a way of finding alternative sources of funding.

Three Pierce Brosnan 007 films (GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies and The World Is Not Enough) featured BMW cars.

But Ford once again entered the world of 007. For 2002′s Die Another Day. At that time, Ford had a collection of European luxury brands (including Aston Martin, a long-time 007 favorite), so DAD was a way to promote all of the brands, including a Land Rover SUV that took villain Gustav Graves to Buckingham Palace. Ford even managed to get in a couple of shots of its then-new Thunderbird two-seat car driven by U.S. agent Jinx (Halle Berry) to a big party given by Graves.

The Daniel Craig era has again seen Aston Martin make a splash and Omega watches even got mentioned in a dramatic scene between Bond and Vesper Lynd (Eva Green).

The Sunday Times reported that Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Sony, which are co-financiing Bond 23, want to generate $45 million, or about a third, of Bond 23′s production budget from product placement fees. We’ll see how it goes. The Bond 23 filmmakers will probably get the money. The question is how obvious the product placement will be.

1974: American Motors gets its one chance to be 007′s ride

In 1974, American Motors got its one and only chance to be James Bond’s primary ride.

The film was The Man With The Golden Gun, Roger Moore’s second 007 film. In earlier installments of the Bond film series, Ford Motor Co. (Goldfinger, Thunderball, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Diamonds Are Forever), then-General Motors Corp., now General Motors Co. (Live And Let Die) and Toyota Motor Corp. (You Only Live Twice) provided the bulk of iconic vehicles. (Aston Martin was a small independent company in the 1960s that really didn’t do product placement deals.)

As The Man With The Golden Gun was in pre-production, Eon Productions went with American Motors, then a distant No. 4 U.S. automaker. Part of the reason: Eon was going to use a signature car stunt that had been performed with an AMC model. In any case, AMC had its one chance to show off its models via a 007 movie. The company would be acquired by Chrysler in the mid-1980s, mostly because Chysler coveted AMC’s line of Jeep sport-utility vehicles.

Here’s a look at a key sequence of Golden Gun where AMC got to show off part of its product line.

Let’s watch a French James Bond parody

There are so many important elements to a James Bond film: danger, beautiful women, product placement…..

With that in mind, here’s a French 007 parody — spoofing Quantum of Solace Daniel Craig as well as elements of classic Bond movies — that our friend Kevin Collette told us about. Even if you don’t speak a word of French, it’s pretty easy to follow. Bear in mind that Casino is the name of a major French retailer:

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