Eon’s new normal (cont.): Q’s comments analyzed

Publicity still of Ben Whishaw with Daniel Craig in Skyfall

So, this week, actor Ben Whishaw, Q in the two most recent James Bond movies, made a few comments to Metro which were deemed news about Bond 25.

“I haven’t had an update for a while. I would imagine, I think they have a release date for next year, so I think by the end of this year we have to have started filming something,” Whishaw was quoted by the website. “Although it has gone strangely quiet, but that’s often the way it goes.”

This was analyzed by Birth. Movies. Death (“Q Is Standing by for BOND 25“) and Screen Rant (“Ben Whishaw Expects Bond 25 To Begin Filming Later This Year“).

And, yes, it was news, at least of a sort. Neither Eon Productions (which makes Bond movies) nor Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (which controls half of the 007 franchise) have said a whole lot for months. In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. In the land of a news blackout, a nugget becomes news.

It’s another reminder about Eon’s new normal. The Bond franchise has franchise has transitioned from being a film series to more like occasional events not on a set schedule.

In the 1970s, even 1980s, it probably wouldn’t have been much of a story if Desmond Llewelyn, the longest-serving film Q, commented about an upcoming film.

Imagine in that time period if Llewelyn said, “I guess they’re getting ready. They have a release date. So they’d have to start filming something before too long.” That wouldn’t have been a blip.

Also, consider this line from the Screen Rant story: “Whishaw may have confirmed his involvement, but there is still no news as to whether Ralph Fiennes (M) or Naomie Harris (Moneypenny) may be joining him.”

In the 1970s, the equivalent would have been: “Llewelyn may have confirmed his involvement, but there is still no news as to whether Bernard Lee (M) or Lois Maxwell (Moneypenny) may be joining him.”

In those days, it’s not a question a lot of people would have been asking. The show was James Bond and whoever was playing him. Connery is back! (Diamonds Are Forever) Who will be the new Bond? Can Roger Moore make it as the new Bond? (Live And Let Die)

This isn’t a complaint. The world is as it is. And Eon’s new normal is what it is.

Anatomy of crappy 007 journalism

Barbara Broccoli

In mid-December, The Hollywood Reporter’s Awards Chatter podcast had a wide-ranging interview with Eon Productions boss Barbara Broccoli.

After almost an hour, there was this brief exchange:

SCOTT FEINBERG (Host): Would you ever hire a person of color or even a woman to play James Bond one day? Could it be Jamie Bond?

BARBARA BROCCOLI: Anything is possible. Right now it’s Daniel Craig and I’m very happy with Daniel Craig, but who knows what the future will bring? That’s what is so exciting about Bond.

OK. Almost two weeks later (Dec. 28, to be precise), the DAILY MAIL ran a story under the headline, “Next James Bond could be black or a woman, says 007 producer: Barbara Broccoli says ‘anything is possible’ once Daniel Craig walks away.”

That story says Broccoli “was asked if we could expect to see a female Bond or a black 007.” (emphasis added). The Broccoli quote: “Right now it’s Daniel Craig, and I’m very happy with Daniel Craig, but who knows what the future will bring?”

In other words, the Mail reproduced Broccoli’s comments. She was asked, but it appears she was not asked by the Daily Mail. Of course, to know that, you would have to listen to the original podcast (it’s around the 1:36:34 mark). Also, the Daily Mail has a reputation for ripping off other outlets, as detailed in a 2015 Gawker story.

Nevertheless, the Daily Mail story (such as it was), spurred other outlets to hammer the same idea.

ESQUIRE.COM (James Bond Producer Barbara Broccoli Says The Next 007 Could Be Female): Same Broccoli quotes, but attributed to the Daily Mail, not the original podcast.

SCREEN RANT (The Next James Bond Could Be a Woman or Person of Color): Same Broccoli quotes, but attributed to the Daily Mail, not the original podcast.

CINEMA BLEND (Will James Bond Continue To Be A Handsome White Dude After Daniel Craig Leaves?): You guessed it, same quotes but attributed to the Daily Mail.

MOVIE WEB (Earlier headline: Next James Bond Probably Won’t Be a Straight White Male): Once more with feeling — same quotes from the podcast, attributed to the Daily Mail. But, hey, at least the website’s headline took it even further. (HEADLINE CHANGED JAN. 4 TO Anything’s Possible When It Comes to Casting the Next James Bond. For more details, see update below).

OBSERVER (Will We Ever See a Non-White Male James Bond? It’s ‘Possible’): You guessed it. Same quotes as the podcast, attributed to the Daily Mail.

Just to be clear, this blog has never been mistaken as an extension of Eon’s PR operation. On occasion, the blog has noted when Broccoli denied things that turned out to be true (Ben Whishaw playing Q in Skyfall, John Logan being signed, initially, to write Bond 24 and 25).

But on this one, it’s pretty clear the Eon boss deflected the question. But that hasn’t stopped various entertainment outlets from running with it.

UPDATE (Jan. 4): Movie Web said today in two posts on Twitter that it changed its headline and is now crediting THR.

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Bond 24: Sam Mendes does some teasing

Sam Mendes

Sam Mendes

Bond 24 director Sam Mendes talked a bit, but not much, about the next James Bond film adventure, according to the SCREEN DAILY website.

Mendes spoke this week at an event at Windsor Castle. Here’s an excerpt from the Screen Daily article:

After doing Skyfall, which was hailed as a more modern approach to Bond, he knew he wanted to do a follow-up film. “We had taken Bond where people aged and were getting old and dying. It had come out of this bubble of timelessness I felt. I thought I would need to say what happened next, in the next year or two.” He knew he would do the next film as soon as Daniel Craig also confirmed.

There’s a bit of revisionist history here. In 2013, Mendes said ACCORDING TO THE PLAYLIST WEBSITE that the idea of doing a sequel to Skyfall “made me physically ill.” Also, in other 007 films, the idea that Bond had aged had been explored.

In any case, Mendes’ comments suggest (but is hardly conclusive proof) that the aging Bond meme of Skyfall will continue in Bond 24. Also, the director briefly discussed the challenges of a Skyfall follow up:

“I spent a long time doing movies that defied easy categorisation,” the director said. “But with Bond, it was very clear what was demanded. With Bond you have to know everything Bond has done before. You can’t repeat it. You’re not going to reinvent the wheel.”

To read the entire Screen Rant article, CLICK HERE.