Bond 25 questions: The British tabloids edition

Eon’s Bond 25 logo

It has been about six weeks since principal photography on Bond 25 began. Of all the media outlets out there, Rupert Murdoch’s tabloid The Sun seems to be driving the media conversation.

Six months ago, even three months ago, that didn’t appear to be the case. With that in mind, here are some questions from the blog.

The Sun? Really? 

During pre-production and production of Skyfall and SPECTRE, the Daily Mail, via Baz Bamigboye, was the go-to tabloid.

Yes, Bamigboye’s stories had the smell of clickbait. But many of his stories were confirmed. Examples: Albert Finney was part of Skyfall’s cast. Yes, Neal Purvis and Robert Wade were summoned to rewrite SPECTRE. Yes, Purvis and Wade were hired to start the Bond 25 scripting process.

As a result, over time, Bamigboye had to be taken seriously even if the Daily Mail had a well-deserved reputation for bad journalism.

But, for some reason, The Sun has been driving much of the Bond 25 storyline. The Sun came out with a story about the June 4 explosion at the 007 Stage at Pinewood Studios. That spurred Eon Productions to quickly get out a statement.

The Sun’s latest story came out June 9. The Murdoch tabloid declared actor Rami Malek “has other filming commitments which will have started by the time” Daniel Craig is ready to resume filming following an injury.

With the tabloids, caution always is called for. Still, The Sun and its scribes have been more active than Bamigboye.

Here’s an excerpt from the newest story from The Sun. Caveat Emptor.

A Bond insider said: “Filming was supposed to finish in September but the cast and crew have been told it’s been pushed back to late October, possible early November due to Daniel’s injury and the set explosion.

“But they still need to find a time for Daniel and Rami to film together.”

How serious should a Bond fan take The Sun? 

Take it with a lot of caution.

The Sun has been out of the gate in declaring Bond 25 “cursed.” In its most recent story, The Sun amped things up by calling Bond 25 “doomed.”

Whoa! That’s way, way too strong a term. Even if you think The Sun has good sources, that’s overplaying your hand.

What’s more, tabloids are famous for taking shortcuts (to put it mildly).

What happens now?

Take it easy. Don’t assume things are doomed or cursed. (A curse is a man-made construct to explain various events.)

At the same time, keep an eye on how things are going. Film productions experience setbacks. Some turn out well (Jaws). Some not so much (Heaven’s Gate). Regardless, there’s no point in jumping to conclusions.

007: With media consolidation, just a piece on the board

“Sorry, Kronsteen. Disney just bought you out.”

In less than a week, there have been two developments that reinforced how James Bond — despite his cinema history — is just a piece of the chessboard.

On Halloween, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Annapurna Pictures announced a joint venture to release movies in the U.S.

MGM is 007’s home studio and controls half of the franchise. But Bond 25 wasn’t part of the deal. Still, it was a reminder how Bond fans don’t really know what’s going on behind the scenes.

MGM hasn’t had a distribution operation since exiting bankruptcy in 2010. The Annapurna deal is a first step toward being a “big boy” studio again. Still, it’s not clear how this affects the Bond franchise just yet.

On Monday, CNBC reported that Walt Disney Co. had engaged in discussions with Rupert Mucdock’s 21st Century Fox to buy most of the 20th Century Fox movie and TV operations.

That has the potential to affect Bond because Fox has a contract for home video distribution of 007 films. It has even more potential to affect Marvel Studios. Disney owns Marvel but Fox licenses key properties such as the X-Men and the Fantastic Four.

For now, according to CNBC, the “two sides are not currently talking at this very moment.” But, until Monday, nobody had an inkling this was even a possibility. 

Back in February, this blog suggested MGM needed to get bigger or get out. The blog took some flak from on social media for daring to suggest MGM wasn’t as strong as other studios. Nine months later, this blog may have been proven right and then some.

It was once observed (by Shady Tree) that Willard Whyte liked “to play Monopoly with real buildings.” In 2017, it’s not just real buildings that are stake. The fate of major movie franchises is also in the pot.

How is it going to turn out? Your guess is as good as the blog’s. But next time you see someone on social media saying they know what’s going to happen, don’t believe them.

Caveat Emptor: Tabloid says Craig may do 2 more 007 films

Skyfall’s poster image

Rupert Murdoch’s Sun tabloid, for the second time in 24 hours, has published a 007 film story, this one saying that Daniel Craig, 49, may sign for not one, but two, additional Bond outings.

Here’s an excerpt:

Producer BARBARA BROCCOLI has been spearheading negotiations with the actor, which will take him up to a total of six films as the world’s most famous secret agent.

While work is scheduled to begin on the 25th film next year, discussions are centring on a possible remake of 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service for Daniel’s subsequent final movie.

A Bond insider said: “There was plenty of talk about who would be the next Bond but Barbara has managed to talk Daniel into two more films.

The thing is, Broccoli and Eon Productions flirted with infusing elements of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service into 2015’s SPECTRE.

A SPECTRE draft script dated Dec. 1, 2014 (one week before the movie began filming) had Bond telling Madeleine Swann that, “We have all the time in the world.”

That was the famous line Bond utters at the end of both Ian Fleming’s 1963 novel and the 1969 movie adaptation. The line didn’t make the 2015 movie.

An earlier SPECTRE draft had a henchwoman named Irma Bunt, a character in the 1963 novel and 1969 film.

What’s more, John Barry’s theme for the OHMSS film was woven into one of the SPECTRE trailers.

Regarding Bond 25, The Sun quotes an unidentified “insider” as saying, “But the deal is almost done and the idea of returning to On Her Majesty’s Secret Service for the 26th movie is really exciting.”

On Saturday, The Sun said Craig is coming back because Sam Mendes (director of Skyfall and SPECTRE) isn’t.

Caveat Emptor: Tabloid claims to have reason Craig is back

Daniel Craig in 2012 during filming of Skyfall.

The blog read this so you don’t have to.

Rupert Murdoch’s Sun tabloid claimed on Saturday night to know why Daniel Craig is coming back for Bond 25 — because director Sam Mendes isn’t.

“The U-turn came shortly after Sam quit the franchise,” according to the tabloid.

“And now I can reveal creative differences threatened to ruin their friendship during filming of 2015 outing Spectre,” the story says. “My sources tell me that as tensions built up, the atmosphere on set got chilly. And they claim Daniel will be delighted that Sam is no longer in the director’s chair.”

The only official Bond 25 announcement was that the movie is being written by Neal Purvis and Robert Wade and will have a U.S. release date of November 2019. There’s been no word about cast, distributor or crew.

The New York Times reported last month that Craig is coming back for Bond 25. The Deadline: Hollywood website said last month there are three Bond 25 director finalists, none of them Mendes.

Sky News says time for 007 to retire

Logo for the Kingsman sequel due out in September.

Earlier this week, the Sky News website HAD A STORY declaring that, “James Bond is dead, long live the Kingsman!”

Essentially, writer Duarte Garrido argued that Bond’s day has passed because he’s a sexist character as well as “his covert racism and weird taste in beverages.”

The new king of spies, we’re told, is Eggsy, played by Taron Egerton, from The Kingsman: The Secret Service.

“Bond was a spy for post-war veterans. Eggsy is a spy for enlightened millennials,” Garrido wrote. “Every generation has its heroes, it’s time for the old ones to retire.”

This is interesting on a number of levels.

A Bond-inspired poster for Kingsman: The Secret Service

–Kingsman: The Secret Service made homages not only to 1960s Bond movies, but Harry Palmer films as well as The Avengers and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. television shows. That’s not the blog saying it. Star Colin Firth, who played Eggsy mentor Harry Hart, said it at the 2014 San Diego Comic Con.

So, it’s not exactly like Kingsman is blazing a trail. Rather, it’s more like a new take on a familiar genre.

–What about the ending of Kingsman: The Secret Service?

Sky tells us Kingsman is enlightened unlike that old sexist Bond. Remember, with Kingsman, we’re talking about a film ended with an anal sex joke.

Director Matthew Vaughn told the Cinema Blend website in 2015 that joke was another 007 homage.

It ends [on that joke] for a very strong reason. A lot of Bond movies used to end on things like Bond trying to ‘attempt re-entry,’ or ‘keeping the British end up.’ So I just thought, ‘We’ve pushed the boundary on every sort of spy cliché.’ We’ve got to end it on The Big One. And there’s only one way of doing it, taking it to the next level!

Meanwhile, Kingsman isn’t showing its superiority over Bond. It’s taking a Bond meme and taking it further. Doesn’t seem particularly enlightened.

–What about the connection between Sky and the Kingsman franchise? That would be Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox.

The company a 39 percent stake in Sky and wants to buy the rest. It also owns the 20th Century Fox studio, which released the 2015 Kingsman and its upcoming sequel, Kingsman: The Golden Circle.

That connection probably should have been noted in the Sky story.

NY Post gossip columnist says Craig will be back

Daniel Craig in a pose worthy of Orson Welles.

Daniel Craig

New York Post gossip columnist Cindy Adams wrote in a short, snarky item that Daniel Craig will be back as James Bond.

“The 411 on 007 is maybe he’s A-1 on BS. Remember him burping ‘I’d rather slash my wrists than play James Bond again?’ Oh, please. Dannyboy’s ready to stir that martini,” Adams wrote for the Post’s Page Six feature.

“Hollywood know-it-alls who know it all categorize this hard-to-catch play as a ploy. He says he hates filming those Bonds, but he knows he loves those Benjamins.”

Who the Hollywood know-it-alls are or how they’re in a position to know it all weren’t specified.

The Post is owned by the Rupert Murdock-controlled News Corp., which owns U.K. tabloids as well as The Times of London and The Wall Street Journal in the U.S.

Caveat Emptor: Murdoch tabloids disagree about Craig

Daniel Craig photo opposing Brexit

Daniel Craig 

The following is presented for entertainment value only.

Two tabloid outposts of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. are, amusingly, in disagreement about the prospects whether Daniel Craig might return to the role of James Bond or not.

Back on July 22, the U.K. tabloid The Sun said Eon Productions co-boss Barbara Broccoli wasn’t in a hurry about Bond 25 because she’s producing other films. It quoted a source as saying, “It will give her time to work out a script and try to convince Daniel to maybe return.”

On July 28, Page Six, which is part of the New York Post (the tabloid Murdoch acquired in 1976, becoming his entry into the U.S. market), also said Broccoli wasn’t in a hurry. In this case, it quotes a source as saying no 007 casting until Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer selects a studio partner to release Bond 25. Sony Pictures’ contract expired with SPECTRE.

But the U.S. side of the Murdoch empire tosses this in:

 

Meanwhile, there are still bad feelings between Bond bosses and the most recent star Daniel Craig, who famously said he “would rather break this glass and slit my wrists” than play 007 again. Another source added, “Producers think that ungracious comment, right before the release of ‘Spectre,’ cost them tens of millions at the box office. They’re ready to forget about Daniel.”

Who knows? As we said, we pass this along for entertainment value.