Mendes says, again, he won’t direct another 007 film

Sam Mendes

Sam Mendes

Sam Mendes, who helmed Skyfall and SPECTRE, said, according to The Associated Press, that he won’t be directing Bond 25.

Here’s an excerpt with the key details:

“It was an incredible adventure, I loved every second of it,” Mendes said of his five years working on the thriller franchise. “But I think it’s time for somebody else.”

Mendes revealed his plans to step down from the series to an audience at the Hay Festival of literature in Wales. A former theatre director whose films include the Oscar-winner “American Beauty” and the somber “Revolutionary Road,” Mendes said he hoped the next Bond director would come from an “unexpected direction,” just as he had.

Of course, this isn’t the first time Mendes has made such comments.

In 2013, he said the idea of directing a sequel to 2012’s Skyfall made him feel “physically ill,” but he directed the next Bond movie, SPECTRE, anyway. Pay raises have a way of calming the stomach.

In July 2015, he told the BBC he “probably” would not direct another 007 film.

Regardless, Mendes’ latest comments are worth noting given how the Bond film series is in flux.

Bond 25, as of now, has no leading man (Daniel Craig hasn’t said if he’s coming back or not), no director, no script and no distributor.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, following its 2010 bankruptcy, doesn’t have the resources to release a Bond movie on its own. Sony Pictures, which released the last four 007 films, saw its contract with MGM expire after SPECTRE.

And, for now, the world goes round and round, albeit without a firm schedule for the return of agent 007.

UPDATE: The AP story has this passage, which raises questions.

Mendes said lobbying by fans is pointless because the decision will be made solely by the series’ producer, Barbara Broccoli.

“It’s not a democracy … Barbara Broccoli decides who is going to be the next Bond, end of story,” he said.

Does Michael G. Wilson, co-boss of Eon Productions, not have a say?

Yikes! Even the NYT gets into 007 sweepstakes stories

Tom Hiddleston's expression here is close to our reaction to the NYT story

Tom Hiddleston’s expression here is close to our reaction to the NYT story

Say it isn’t so, Gray Lady.

The New York Times, considered one of the best newspapers, if not the best newspaper, in the world couldn’t resist doing a James Bond story based on the activities of U.K. bookies who don’t actually know what’s going on.

Over the past few days, British bookmaker Coral stopped taking bets on who the next James Bond will be. That’s because there were a surge of bets in favor of British actor Tom Hiddleston.

The surge, in turn, occurred because of U.K. tabloid stories that Eon Productions co-boss Barbara Broccoli and Skyfall and SPECTRE director Sam Mendes had a late-night dinner recently with the 35-year-old actor.

This is what bookies do. They adjust odds based on bets. And if there are too many bets for one candidate, they stop making bets because they won’t make money.

Various U.K. tabloids have written up the Coral action. So has the BBC.  But The Times evidently felt it was now a matter for its attention.

The Times doesn’t actually bring any reporting to the issue. The story mostly cites other outlets. You know,  the way, blogs like ours (that are way, way down the media food chain), do.

Imagine the reaction when there’s actual news to report.

Mendes has a new movie project and it’s not Bond 25

Sam Mendes

Sam Mendes

Apparently this time he meant it.

Sam Mendes, director of Skyfall and SPECTRE, told the BBC last year that he was “probably” done directing Bond films. Of course, after 2012’s Skyfall, he had said the thought of directing another 007 adventure made him “physically ill.” Mendes apparently took some Alka Seltzer and directed SPECTRE (plus got a big raise). So, naturally, there was some skepticism about his 2015 comments.

However, the Deadline: Hollywood website reported (and other outlets confirmed) Mendes has lined up another directing gig, a movie based on an upcoming book by author Gay Talese.

EXCLUSIVE: Sam Mendes and DreamWorks have captured screen rights to the Gay Talese article The Voyeur’s Motel that got the town all hot and bothered when the April 11th The New Yorker article hit. Mendes will direct and produce with Steven Spielberg a film based on the article and a book that Talese has written. The book, which bears the same title, will be published July 12th by Grove Press. Word is the deal was at or close to $1 million.

The story doesn’t specify when filming might start, much less when the film would arrive in theaters. But the news would seem to take Mendes out of the conversation for Bond 25.

The next 007 film has no release date because, for now, there’s no studio to release it because Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer is still seeking a studio partner after Sony’s most recent contract expired.

On the other hand, if Bond 25 gets pushed back to 2019 or 2020, Mendes could be available to direct it.

The 007 film dilemma in 3 minutes

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

As the James Bond film franchise decides what to do next, it faces a bit of a dilemma:

Should it continue to seek more critical respect (Casino Royale and Skyfall) or should it embrace its roots, the way SPECTRE, the most recent 007 film, did?

The last two Bond films were directed by an auteur, Sam Mendes.

In 2012, Eon Productions co-boss Barbara Broccoli told ComingSoon.Net that the franchise didn’t hire journeymen directors: “(W)e’ve never been one to hire directors for hire. We always wanted someone who was a great director in their own right and a storyteller.”

Yet, in the first four movies of the series — which generated some of the most memorable scenes for the franchise — were directed by journeymen Terence Young and Guy Hamilton. Young, in particular, dealt with cost and schedule overruns on Dr. No and From Russia With Love.

Young even had part of his Dr. No fee impounded until costs were recouped at the box office because of the overruns. Bond was a much more modest undertaking in those days.

2012 also saw something that summarizes the divide between respect and tradition.

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts wanted to celebrate the 50th anniversayr of the Bond films. So Tom Jones appeared to perform the title song to Thunderball, the fourth 007 film.

The audiences was full of artistes. Yet they seemed to be having as good a time as audiences did in 1965 when Thunderball first came out.

On some occasions, respect and tradition can coincide. Something to keep in mind as Bond 25 undergoes its journey in development. Here’s Sir Tom in 2012:

SPECTRE gets 2 awards from Empire magazine

Empire, the U.K. film magazine gave SPECTRE two awards on Sunday.

The 24th James Bond film received awards for Best Thriller and Best British film. Here’s how Empire announced the news on Twitter.

Here’s a reaction:

And another, this one from Chris Corbould, the special effects wizard.

Daniel Kleinman discusses SPECTRE main titles

Daniel Craig in SPECTRE's main titles

Daniel Craig in SPECTRE’s main titles

The Art of the Title website HAS AN INTERVIEW with Daniel Kleinman, who designed the titles of SPECTRE, the 24th James Bond film, as well as every 007 film since 1995 with the exception of 2008’s Quantum of Solace.

A few highlights:

–Director Sam Mendes was more involved in the titles process than other 007 film directors.

“(S)ome of them are just so busy and aren’t that interested in getting involved in the main title — they leave me to it. And that’s fine by me,” Kleinman said. “But Sam is different. Sam’s a bit more hands-on. He likes getting involved. He’s got his finger in every single bit of it, you know?”

–How he incorporated octopus images (always part of SPECTRE logos, going back to From Russia With Love): “I mean, that’s fairly obvious because the logo of SPECTRE is the little octopus, but that was the key image, the key thing that made me feel that I wanted to have ideas based around it.”

(snip)

“I started thinking about making the octopus more metaphorical rather than literal…So I did some drawings of couples embracing with octopus tentacles coming up behind them or wrapping around them and Sam really liked that.”

–Why he incorporated Daniel Craig into the SPECTRE titles: “(T)he thing with Daniel Craig is that he’s very, very idiosyncratic. The way he moves, the way he looks, the intensity of his presence — it’s very difficult to emulate.”

To view the entire article, CLICK HERE. There are a lot more details, including photographs taken during production of the titles.

Burt Reynolds at 80: the (could-have-been) Bond

Burt Reynolds and the cast of Hooper in the film's final scene

Burt Reynolds at the end of Hooper (1978)

Feb. 11 was the 80th birthday of Burt Reynolds. For a time, in the very early 1970s, some (such as director Guy Hamilton) thought he could have been a good James Bond.

That wasn’t meant to be, but the actor’s milestone birthday is worthy of a pause for reflection.

Reynolds was a better actor than a lot of his critics gave him credit for. At the same time, for a long time, Reynolds was quoted as acknowledging that he accepted some roles because it would be fun, rather than stretching his acting chops.

Regardless, Reynolds worked his way up. For a time in the early 1960s, he was a supporting player on Gunsmoke as Quint Asper, a half-Indian blacksmith in Dodge City. Reynolds also had a memorable guest appearance on The Twilight Zone, where he played a pompous actor, doing a spot-on impersonation of Marlon Brando.

Reynolds later became the lead actor in police dramas such as Hawk and Dan August.

The latter, which aired during the 1970-71 season on ABC, was a turning point. Not because it was successful, but because Reynolds took a copy of the show’s “blooper reel” with him on talk shows. (See the book Quinn Martin, Producer for more details.) For the first time, audiences could see what his colleagues already knew — Reynolds had a sense of humor.

Reynolds could be serious when he wanted to, such as the 1971 movie Deliverance. But, for some (such as the Spy Commander), one of his best performances — where drama and comedy were required — was 1978’s Hooper.

In that Hal Needham-directed film, Reynolds played the lead stunt man on a James Bond-like movie being directed by an “A” list movie director (Robert Klein). The latter character was based on Peter Bogdanovich, who directed 1976’s Nickelodeon, a film where Reynolds worked as an actor and Needham as stunt coordinator.

In 1978, it was inconceivable that an “A” list director would ever do a Bond movie. So, in some ways, Hooper was a sort-of preview of the Sam Mendes-directed 007 films of the 21st century.

Anyway, here’s a hearty happy birthday for Burt Reynolds.

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