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.

With SPECTRE, 007 ‘Silly Season’ kicks into high gear

Bond spat out an obscenity after reading the articles.

Bond spat out an obscenity after reading the articles.

A new James Bond movie is out. So, naturally, it’s time for all sorts of articles to cite Agent 007, while he’s fresh in the public’s mind, to draw attention to themselves.

For example, there’s THIS REUTERS STORY with a headline proclaiming the fictional agent is Britain’s “greatest intelligence asset.”

It begins thusly:

In the 62 years since James Bond first appeared in print, there’s no doubt he has helped boost the reputations of his real-life counterparts in British intelligence.

Later, Reuters (a one-time employer of 007 author Ian Fleming) says, “Bond and his fellow fictional British operatives, however, allow UK intelligence to project an image” that goes beyond reality. “It might have only the most tangential relationship to what really happens, but it still has real-world impact.”

That’s all well and good except THIS BUZZFEED STORY says British Intelligence isn’t exactly embracing the Bond image these days.

The story concerns a recruiting drive.

The launch of the campaign coincides with the release of the latest James Bond movie, Spectre. MI6 bosses are well aware that the film will lead to a flurry of interest in working for the agency.

But the organisation is at pains to make clear that Bond – a gun-toting, Martini-drinking, womanising loner – is not a true reflection of the modern-day intelligence officer. “James Bond would probably not be successful in joining SIS, if he were to apply,” an intelligence source said.

The Wrap entertainment news website summarized the BuzzFeed story with the headline “JAMES BOND COULDN’T GET A JOB AT MI6, AGENCY SAYS.”

Meanwhile, this is also an opportunity to write about how the cinema world of James Bond doesn’t match up with the real one.

For example, some articles point out IT’D REALLY BE HARD FOR BOND TO GET AUTO INSURANCE because he trashes a lot of vehicles.


“Dating expert Hayley Quinn set out to find out just how far James Bond’s pickup lines would take a man in real life, so she enlisted the help of fellow blogger Ollie Pearce to test them out in the streets of London,” according to the story.

Spy entertainment to watch in 2014

It’s only a few days before the near year. So it’s not too early to think about spy-related entertainment coming up in 2014.

Daniel Craig during the filming of Skyfall

Daniel Craig during the filming of Skyfall

Bond 24 begins filming: The 24th 007 film produced by Eon Productions probably will go into production toward the end of the year to meet is October (U.K.)/November (U.S.) 2015 release date.

There’s not much hard information, other than Daniel Craig is back as Bond, Sam Mendes is again directing and John Logan is writing the script.

Ralph Fiennes, whose Mallory became the new M at the end of 2012’s Skyfall, TOLD REUTERS IN A DEC. 24 STORY that, “I know nothing, I’ve not been told anything, I have no information, no dates, no sense of the journey of my character at all! I don’t!”

If Bond 24 follows the same path as Skyfall, casting details will dribble out, though not be confirmed initially. With Skyfall, the casting of Fiennes, Naomie Harris and Javier Bardem were all reported long before the movie started principal photography in November 2011.

U.N.C.L.E. movie (probably) arrives in theaters: Director Guy Ritchie’s movie version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. wrapped production the first week of December. Warner Bros. hasn’t publicly announced a release date but there’s certainly enough post-production time for a fall 2014 release.

Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer (Art by Paul Baack)

Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer
(Art by Paul Baack)

The movie, starring Henry Cavill as Napoleon Solo and Armie Hammer as Illya Kuryakin, will be the first U.N.C.L.E. production since the 1983 television movie The Return of The Man From U.N.C.L.E., which reunited Robert Vaughn and David McCallum, the stars of the original 1964-68 television series.

The film will also be a test whether there’s a mass audience in the 21st century for U.N.C.L.E., a “utopian” spy concept in which agents from opposing sides in the Cold War could unite against common menaces. The movie will be set in the 1960s, the same as the original show.

Mission: Impossible 5 starts production: Tom Cruise is back for a fifth time as the star of a Mission: Impossible film, which will be released at Christmas 2015. Cruise had been slated to star in the U.N.C.L.E. movie as Solo but dropped out as M:I 5 (which his production company produces) developed. That move gave the opening for Cavill’s casting in the U.N.C.L.E. movie.

Cruise’s most recent M:I film, Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol, was a hit while while paying homages to the original 1966-73 television series, while the original 1996 movie turned Jim Phelps into a villain. Since then, Cruise has had his ups and downs. So he could use another financially successful M:I movie.

Golfinger’s 50th anniversary: 1964’s Goldfinger turned Bond into a worldwide phenomenon. Dr. No’s 50th anniversary got a lot of attention, in part because Skyfall was coming out. It’ll be interesting to see if Goldfinger’s golden anniversary draws attention.

Welcome back, Ian Fleming

It took a while, but finally 007’s creator is getting a little attention during the 50th anniversary year of the cinematic James Bond.

On April 29, Eon Productions conducted a press conference in Istanbul. It was almost six months after the early November press conference to kick off filming of the 23rd James Bond movie. Fleming, without whom the “Bond wagon” of the past half century would not be possible, hasn’t been mentioned much. Sam Mendes, the director of Skyfall, spent some time talking about the author of the original Bond stories.

Here’s the account BY SKY NEWS about the April 29 event:

Speaking in Istanbul where the new film is currently shooting, the Oscar winner said he had gone back to the original novels to look at the troubled psyche of the MI6 agent.

“What Fleming created was a very conflicted character,” he told reporters.

Here’s a quote from Daniel Craig in a Reuters story describing what he and Mendes discussed:

“But we couldn’t shut up. It was a chance for us to reread Ian Fleming, and we started emailing each other, ‘What about this and what about this?’, and that’s how it snowballed.” (emphasis added)


“You always go back to the Fleming because the character Fleming created over a number of novels was incredibly complex,” Mendes said Sunday at a news conference in Istanbul, where the crew of “Skyfall” has filmed.

“Some people sometimes forget in the cliche of Bond, which is the international playboy, and someone who’s always untroubled, and almost never breaks a sweat, that actually what (Fleming) created was a very conflicted character,” said Mendes, who was joined by cast members, including Bond actor Daniel Craig.

Until now, we’ve heard how wonderful Daniel Craig is, how wonderful Sam Mendes is, how wonderful Barbara Broccoli is. We’ve heard catchphrases like “Bond with a capital B” and “the money’s all up on the screen.” But we’ve heard very little about the author who actually created James Bond and whose tales were adapted, relatively faithfully, for five of the first six movies of the film series.

Could this be manipulative? Perhaps. Craig talks in 2012 about he “reread Ian Fleming” when he said IN 2008 that Fleming titles mean “very little.” That suggests Craig perhaps didn’t read the Fleming stories that closely where titles such as Live And Let Die, From a View to a Kill and Octopussy were explained.

Even if that’s the case, it doesn’t matter. Without Fleming, none of this is possible. Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman would be forgotten movie producers. Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli might have been successful, but probably not as movie producers. Sean Connery, Roger Moore and other James Bond actors wouldn’t be quite as famous as they’d end up being.

It remains to be seen whether Skyfall will be true to Ian Fleming. And, as we’ve noted before, being true to Fleming has multiple interpretations. But, at least for one day, a long-dead author got a little recognition in an anniversary year that wouldn’t have been possible without him.

007 and Aston Martin: development of a myth

When Prince William and his bride pulled out of Buckingham Palace in an Aston Martin convertible, it didn’t take long for people to make the connection between the royal couple’s ride and 007. The Reuters news service (Ian Fleming’s one-time employer) ran a video it called James Bond moment for royal newlyweds. Meanwhile, some 007 fan Web sites wrote up the connect such as THIS EXAMPLE

No question, Aston Martin is viewed as 007’s ride. Bond driving an Aston Martin is a modern myth, one that thrived for decades. But the original connection was much more modest.

In Fleming’s 1959 novel Goldfinger, Bond drove an Aston Martin DB III from MI 6’s car pool. “Bond had been offered the Aston Martin or a Jaguar 3.4. He had taken the D.B. III. Either of the cars would have suited his cover — a well-to-do, rather adventurous young man with a taste for the good, the fast things of life.”

Richard Maibuam introduced the DB V model in his first draft of the screenplay for the 1964 film. However, he took it out in his second draft in favor of a Bentley, the literary Bond’s preferred personal car, according to film historian Adrian Turner, who reviewed all of the film’s drafts for a 1998 book. The DB V returns in later drafts by Maibaum and Paul Dehn. John Stears, the film’s special effects man, added various extras not in the novel.

Goldfinger, of course, was a big hit and the Aston Martin was one of the movie’s attractions. The DB V returned in Thunderball. Different Aston Martin models could be seen in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Diamonds Are Forever (a visual joke in the background in a shot of Q talking to Bond on the telephone), The Living Daylights, Die Another Day, Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace.

Some authors of Bond continuation novels have tried to equip 007 in different rides. Raymond Benson’s 1997-2002 run included Bond in a Jaguar. Jeffery Deaver’s upcoming Carte Blanche, a reboot of the literary 007, features the agent in a Bentley. There’s a special limited-edition of the new novel that plays up the Bentley connection.

None of that, though, is likely to shake the association between Bond and Aston Martin. The royal wedding on April 29 is just another example:

UPDATE: We’re reminded that the DBV (or DB5, depending on your preference) also appeared in GoldenEye and Tomorrow Never Dies, even though the main “Bond cars” were BMWs. In Raymond Benson’s novelizations of the films, we’re told Bond bought the car for his personal use after MI 6 was had decided to sell off the car.

Ian Fleming’s heirs try to extend another franchise

Ian Fleming Publications, run by heirs of the 007 author, have commissioned a sequel to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Fleming’s children’s story about a flying car.

In a story by the Reuters news service (which was also Fleming’s employer in the 1930s), we learn this:

James Bond creator Ian Fleming’s other famous invention, the magical car Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, is set to fly again with the publication of a new series of adventures by children’s author Frank Cottrell Boyce.

Fleming’s estate, which has already found success with authorized spinoffs of the James Bond series, has decided to re-launch Chitty Chitty Bang Bang with three new novels, the first of which is due for release on November 4.

“Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again” will be published in Britain by Macmillan Children’s Books and set in the present day.

The Los Angeles Times, in its Jacket Copy weblog, did a follow up YOU CAN READ BY CLICKING HERE. We first noticed all this at the Book Bond Web site WHICH YOU CAN SEE BY CLICKING HERE.

Here’s our question: Would Ian Fleming Publications be able to have an open auction for the film rights? 007 producer Albert R. Broccoli formed a company separate from Eon Productions to make the 1968 musical version of the story. Eon was involved in a stage production of the story several years ago.

Eon has had a right of first refusal on the continuation novels that Ian Fleming Publications has commissioned over the years. Eon hasn’t used any continuation novel as the basis of a 007 movie but has also prevented any other film company from doing so. But could Fleming’s heirs have an open competition for the film rights to sequels? We don’t know. But it will be interesting to watch.