Eon puts out a NTTD promo featuring Safin

Rami Malek in a No Time to Die trailer

Eon Productions today put out a No Time to Die promo featuring the character of Safin, the film’s villain.

“What I really wanted from Safin was to make him unsettling…thinking of himself as heroic,” actor Rami Malek says in the promo.

Director Cary Fukunaga also chimes in about how Safin is “a very frightening character.”

The promo also still lists November as No Time to Die’s release date.

The tweet with the promo is embedded below. The promo also was on Eon’s official 007 website. You can check out the promo for yourself.

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Bond 25 questions: Where did the money go edition

No Time to Die teaser poster

Well, everybody knew going in that No Time to Die wasn’t going to be cheap. But a recent U.K. regulatory filing by B25 Ltd., a subsidiary of Eon Productions, gives an idea of how expensive it was.

A movie and a half? 

The filing said for 2019 the “work in progress” (No Time to Die is the only work in progress B25 has) was 199.47 million pounds. The conversion rate between pounds and dollars varies, but that’s more than $240 million.

The filing also listed a figure for 2018: 17.44 million pounds. The MI6 James Bond website said that may be pre-production costs when Danny Boyle was attached to direct before departing in August 2018 for “creative differences.” He was replaced by Cary Fukunaga.

Regardless, production designer Mark Tildesley in a Masterclass video interview posted May 10, said a 350-foot rocket had been built and a Russian gulag set in Canada constructed during Boyle’s time on the project.

Tildesley also said the production continued to lease the pricey 007 Stage at Pinewood Studios after Boyle left. Part of the space was used as a construction workshop.

Expensive cast

Variety previously reported that Daniel Craig was due a $25 million payday for No Time to Die. The film then brought on Rami Malek as the villain. He was coming off winning a Best Actor Oscar. He’s probably getting considerably more than scale. That probably applies to the returning MI6 cast of characters played by Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris and Ben Whishaw.

Expensive crew

Phoebe Waller-Bridge was brought in as a writer at a cost of $2 million, The Hollywood Reporter said last year.  Scott Z. Burns, a pricey “script doctor” also did uncredited work on the script.

Bond 25 questions: The production designer edition

Rami Malek on a No Time to Die set designed by Mark Tildesley that certainly appears inspired by a Ken Adam set from Dr. No.

Mark Tildesley, production designer for No Time to Die, has gone public with some tidbits from the 25th James Bond film. Naturally, the blog has some questions.

Homages? Again?

So it would seem.

Tildesley, in a Masterclass video interview, said “we’ve heavily lent on previous films and the designers of previous films for some of the shapes and stuff…We went through all the films. Let’s take everything we love.”

It’s not like we haven’t been down this route before. Die Another Day (2002), Quantum of Solace (2008) and Skyfall (2012) all had their share of homages to previous 007 film adventures.

There were already signs it was happening again with No Time to Die.

One of Tildesley’s sets had a circular grille in the ceiling, similar to a Ken Adam-designed set for Dr. No. Stills emerged with Rami Malek’s villain Safin at the set.

And, of course, the Aston Martin DB5 is back, which gave the production designer a chance to tweak its design.

The car is actually a replica of the DB5 (with a carbon fiber body and BMW engine) and the designer moved the placement of the machine guns to the headlights. That’s been a prominent part of No Time to Die trailers and TV spots.

What was Danny Boyle up to?

Tildesley said a rocket and a Russian gulag were among the things being built for a Danny Boyle-directed No Time to Die.

He didn’t give away a whole lot more. But his comments suggesting various reports that Boyle wanted to cast a Russian villain were correct. Also, the MI6 James Bond website reported in February 2019 Bond was imprisoned by the villain for much of the Boyle version of No Time to Die.

So it’s not much of a stretch to imagine that a Russian villain would imprison Bond in a gulag.

Boyle’s hiring was announced in May 2018 and he left because of “creative differences in August 2018. Cary Fukunaga was hired to replace Boyle.

Fukunaga also is listed as one of the writers of No Time to Die. His version of the movie is a sequel to 2015’s SPECTRE, even bringing back Lea Seydoux as Madeline Swann.

Anything else interesting?

In parts of the interview, Tildesley talks about how having a low budget forces the creative team to be more creative.

No Time to Die doesn’t have a low budget. The estimated production outlay is $250 million.

The designer said the challenge with a large budget film is to stay creative.

“The thing about doing a bigger film is to try and keep light on your feet,” he said. “I’m always trying to think of. like, arresting images that will burn onto your retina.”

Cary Fukunaga discusses No Time to Die

A new No Time to Die promotional video is out today with director Cary Fukunaga talking about the 25th James Bond film.

The format is different than the video blog promos of Skyfall and SPECTRE. Fukunaga’s dialogue is in voiceover form, accompanied by shots from the film as well as behind-the-scenes shots.

The writer-director says he had to “rediscover Bond” and to determine “after five years of retirement, who has he become?”

Based on the video, some themes of Skyfall may come up again.

“The rules of engagement aren’t what they used to be, the rules of espionage darker in this era of asymmetric warfare,” Fukunaga says.

At the same time, the director hypes No Time to Die’s villain, Rami Malek’s Safin, as “smarter and stronger than SPECTRE.”

You can take a look for yourself below (or not if you’re super spoiler adverse). The video runs lasts for 100 seconds.

Newest NTTD ad teases a few more clues

The spoiler adverse should just leave now.

A new No Time to Die ad was shown on the E! channel’s pre-Oscars show on Sunday, Feb. 9. It was similar to the 30-second spot that aired a week earlier during the Super Bowl. But there were a few new bits:

— James Bond (Daniel Craig) and Madeline Swann (Lea Seydoux), both looking a bit haggard, say, “This is it,” to each other.

–Bond holds a burning piece of paper that reads, “Forgive me.” From Madeline Swann? Or possibly an old note from Vesper Lynd that he’s kept for all these years?

–A tense M (Ralph Fiennes) says, “Come on Bond.”

–Safin (Rami Malek) says he had made Bond “redundant.” Bond replies, “Not as long as there are people like you in the world.”

Also, of note, both the Feb. 2 and Feb. 9 ads only had a Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer logo.

The first trailer, which debuted in December, had MGM and Universal logos. United Artists Releasing, a joint venture of MGM and Annapurna, is releasing No Time to Die in the U.S. Universal is handling international distribution.

If you haven’t seen it, you can view the commercial below.

Real life Mission: Impossible — ex-auto exec escapes

Carlos Ghosn

Here today, Ghosn tomorrow.

Former Renault and Nissan executive Carlos Ghosn (rhymes with cone) pulled off a dramatic escape from Japan and ended up in Lebanon, a country where he’s a citizen.

Ghosn was arrested in Japan in 2018 for under-reporting his compensation. He spent much of the past year imprisoned. More recently, he’s been out of jail but under severe restrictions and surveillance. His lawyers in Japan had custody of his three passports (Lebanese, Brazilian and French).

Despite that, Ghosn this week arrived in Lebanon via a private aircraft. He said he was held unjustly and plans to discuss the case publicly next week. A report in Lebanon said part of the escape involved being taken out in a box meant for musical instruments after some musicians played at his Tokyo home.

For details, you can view reports in The New York Times, CNN and Reuters. (UPDATE: Reuters has an additional story saying Ghosn may have met Lebanon’s president after arriving in the country.)

The reason for bringing it up in the blog: I’ve seen mentions on social media comparing this to James Bond.

Granted (as a former co-worker of mine said years ago) Ghosn looks like he could play a James Bond villain. Another friend this week remarked this has the makings of a good movie and Rami Malek, having wrapped up work on No Time to Die, could play Ghosn.

Still, I think the better comparison is the original Mission: Impossible television series. Ghosn’s escape seems as elaborate as some of the plans devised by either Dan Briggs (Steven Hill) or Jim Phelps (Peter Graves).

The M:I pilot even had operative Willy (Peter Lupus) using cases to carrying people into a vault containing two atomic bombs.

Regardless, the world is going to be curious for some time about how Ghosn pulled off his escape from Japan.

Odds and ends from Empire’s NTTD story

Daniel Craig/James Bond character poster

No real spoilers but people determined to read nothing about No Time to Die before April should skip.

Empire magazine’s February 2020 has reached subscribers and there are now scans of its entire No Time to Die story.

The issue goes on sale on Dec. 27. The blog ran one post yesterday. What follows is a summary of a few additional things:

–There are a couple of passages that partially explain scenes that are included in the movie’s trailer (Bond’s black tie scene and a seaplane).

–Director Cary Fukunaga supposedly lobbied for the Bond 25 director’s job right after SPECTRE.

–Producer Barbara Broccoli on why Christoph Waltz’s Blofeld came back (despite Waltz’s claims at one point that he wasn’t in the movie): “When you’ve got Christoph Waltz you don’t want to throw him away and you don’t want to kill him off too fast.”

–Fukunaga on Safin, the villain played by Rami Malek: “He’s someone who’s lived in the shadows. Waiting for the right moment to take the position he thinks is his rightful position: running the underworld.”

–Broccoli and her half-brother Michael G. Wilson say they haven’t thought at all about Bond 26.

‘No comment’ trumps a falsehood

Rami Malek

Earlier today, I saw some social media accounts express exasperation that the idea that Rami Malek may be playing a rebooted Dr. No in No Time to Die.

Malek, in a recent interview, said he wasn’t playing Dr. No. Shouldn’t that be the end of it?

Under normal circumstances, yes.

But Malek’s Dr. No denial comes after Eon Productions, and the actors it hired, denied things that were true.

–Naomie Harris denied she was playing a new version of Moneypenny in Skyfall. But she was.

–Eon boss Barbara Broccoli and star Daniel Craig, in a joint interview during the production of Skyfall, denied Ben Whishaw was playing Q in Skyfall. This came after Whishaw’s agent said his client had the part.

“Agents are liars,” Craig said. “You know that.” The actor laughed, according to the transcript.

–Christoph Waltz denied he was playing Blofeld in SPECTRE. But he was.

It may well be true that Malek isn’t playing Dr. No. The timeline for the Malek-is-playing-Dr. No is a bit odd. See THIS DEC. 6 SPY COMMAND POST for some background.

The thing is, once a pattern is established of denying things that are true, you lose the benefit of the doubt. You don’t get to unring a bell. You don’t get a do-over.

Put another way, credibility once lost is hard to get back. With Malek as Dr. No 2.0, fans may be going down a rabbit hole. But Eon Productions and its publicity department have only themselves to blame.

“No comment” is always a better alternative to a falsehood.

About that Dr. No vibe for No Time to Die

Rami Malek in the No Time to Die trailer

There are fan questions whether Rami Malek is playing a rebooted version of Dr. No in No Time to Die. But how did that get started?

Well, back on April 25, Malek appeared on Good Morning America. He was asked if he had a favorite James Bond film.

“I liked Dr. No quite a bit,” Malek replied.

Later in the day, CBS posted an online story that originally said Malek would play Dr. No. However, that reference was deleted and this added to the end of the story: “Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that it is unclear which James Bond villain Malek will be playing.”

Regardless, the idea remained in the background, even after Malek’s character name was revealed to be Safin.

This week, the No Time to Die trailer debuted, providing a first look of Malek in character. The trailer did little to put the Dr. No vibe to rest. For example, Joe Darlington of Being James Bond noted this similarity.

Dr. No: BOND (Sean Connery): Our asylums are full of people who think they’re Napoleon — or God.

No Time to Die trailer: BOND (Daniel Craig): History isn’t kind to men who play God.

However, Malek, during an interview seemed to want to wind back the Dr. No angle. He said he watched previous Bond films but “it was not as if I was going back o play an exact character. I was not playing  Dr. No again.”

You can see it below, starting around the 7:23 mark.

Normally, that would be that.

Except, during production of Skyfall, Naomie Harris denied she was playing Moneypenny while Daniel Craig and Barbara Broccoli in a joint interview denied Ben Whishaw was playing Q (even though Whishaw’ agent had let the cat out of the bag). Also, during production of SPECTRE, Christoph Waltz denied he was paying Blofeld.

As a result, maybe Malek means it. But, based on recent history, maybe he doesn’t.

We’ll see.

No Time to Die trailer debuts

If you consider a trailer an unforgivable spoiler, stop reading.

No Time to Die’s trailer — we can safely stop calling it a “teaser trailer” — debuted today. The 2:35 trailer may have answered some fan questions while raising new ones.

Confirmed: Nomi (Lashana Lynch) is a double-0 agent. More information: she and former agent James Bond (Daniel Craig) don’t get along, at least not at first.

“So stay in your lane,” she tells Bond. “If you get in my way, I will put a bullet in your knee — the one that works.”

Unconfirmed: Whether Nomi now has the 007 code number following Bond’s departure. There is a scene in the trailer where M (Ralph Fiennes) asks, “Where’s 007?” That would be a perfect setup to introduce Nomi as having Bond’s old code number — if the filmmakers choose to do so.

Seemingly confirmed: Christoph Waltz is back as Blofeld and is visited in prison by Bond. Given the franchise’s embrace of continuity, it looks pretty certain he is playing Blofeld again. He taunts Bond about Madeline Swann.

New question: What happened between Bond and Swann (Lea Seydoux) after the end of SPECTRE?

A number of scenes indicate the relationship between Bond and Swann got rocky, with questions about secrets.

New question: What is Rami Malek’s villain character up to?

That’s not really answered but there are a few intriguing lines from Malek’s character.

In the U.S., the trailer was unveiled on ABC’s Good Morning America show. Afterward, some of the main cast were interviewed but said little.

Lea Seydoux said Swann has secrets (which we knew already from the trailer). Lashana Lynch said Daniel Craig is her favorite James Bond (joining Rami Malek and director Cary Fukunaga who made that declaration previously). Malek said it was an honor to work with Craig. At least that talking point remains consistent.

Here’s the trailer:

UPDATE (12: 30 p.m., New York Time): I had a chance to re-watch the Good Morning America interview. Director Fukunaga says No Time to Die “carries on the tradition of the previous four films…We’re trying our best to wrap them up in a really exciting way.” He also says he hopes new generations discover Bond.

UPDATE (1:40 p.m. New York time): It turns out the entire No Time to Die segment on Good Morning America was sponsored by MGM. In other words, it was an informercial.

NTTD-GMA-MGM