Naomie Harris emerges as 007’s unofficial ambassador

Naomie Harris introduces the Lego Aston Martin DB5 in 2018

Naomie Harris, seven years after entering the film world of 007, may have emerged as a sort-of unofficial ambassador for the James Bond film franchise.

When Sony was the distributor of 007 films, it employed Harris as her Moneypenny character in a commercial. She retrieves Bond’s smartphone for him.

It fell to Harris to introduce the Lego Aston Martin DB5 that came out at an event in London in 2018.

Also in 2018, Harris was the headliner for the opening of 007 Elements in Austria, “a James Bond-themed installation.”

This week, she appeared at Eon Production’s “reveal” event in Jamaica. In an interview with Nine News Australia, she said she wasn’t involved in filming Bond 25 scenes there.

“I’m not, unfortunately,” she said. “I know I’m not…I wish I was.” Meanwhile, other members of the 007 “Scooby Gang” (Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw and Rory Kinnear) didn’t put in an appearance in Jamaica.

For many years, Roger Moore, who starred in seven of Eon’s Bond films, filled the “ambassador” role. He publicly spoke in support of his 007 successors.

“Roger came down to set one day on ‘GoldenEye’ and wished me well,” Brosnan wrote in a 2017 tribute in Variety published after Moore’s death “I was still in awe of the man” Moore also complimented Daniel Craig’s Bond performances.

Perhaps Harris’ schedule makes her available to promote Bond more. Still, she has developed a presence that’s reaching out to audiences on behalf of the gentleman spy.

Bond 25 questions: Eve (?) of the announcement edition

It seems we’re about to get some Bond 25 news this week. But, given how Bond 25 development has gone the past three years, there are questions even in the home stretch.

What changes from the normal media launch might we see?

During the evening of April 23, the MI6 James Bond website came out with a story that said the following:

MI6 has been informed that there will be no traditional press conference.

Instead, specially recorded segments in Jamaica will be packaged by ABC TV (Good Morning America) in the USA and ITV in the UK (Good Morning Britain) for broadcast on Thursday and Friday this week.

Anything particularly odd about that?

U.S. network ABC, which airs Good Morning America, is owned by Walt Disney Co. Competitor NBC, which airs Today, a morning rival to Good Morning America, is owned by Comcast. Comcast, in turn, is parent company to NBC-Universal. The Universal part is Bond 25’s international distributor.

So?

From a distance, it would appear Bond 25 is messing over one of its corporate partners (Universal).

Any other concerns?

The blog is wondering if we’ll find out Bond 25’s actual title this week. This decade, at this point, we were told that Bond 23 would be called Skyfall and Bond 24 would be called SPECTRE.

Maybe we’ll be told Bond 25’s actual title. But the format of this week’s media event is different enough that the blog isn’t taking it for granted.

UPDATE (April 24): Comcast also is being shut out on the European side of the Atlantic when it comes to this week’s Bond 25 events. Comcast owns a controlling interest Sky. But ITV isn’t part of Sky. h/t to reader Rob Coppinger for bringing this to my attention.

UPDATE II: Reader @CorneelVf on Twitter has a post of a program guide indicating Comcast’s Sky will have a half-hour show on Thursday called Bond 25: The Announcement.

UPDATE III: The official Eon Productions 007 Twitter feed has details about a live Bond 25 announcement at 13:10 GMT on Thursday. Twitter users can ask questions using #BOND25. This may be a social media substitute for the traditional media event for 007 films.

 

With Fox deal, Disney gets some 007 action (for now)

Skyfall’s poster image

Walt Disney Co. apparently is now in the Bond business — until mid-2020, anyway.

Disney this week completed its $71.3 billion acquisition of most of the assets of 21st Century Fox, including the 20th Century Fox movie studio. One of the properties Disney picked up was Fox Home Entertainment, which handles home video releases of James Bond films for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

That includes the 24-film Eon Productions series as well as the 1967 Casino Royale and 1983’s Never Say Never Again. MGM and Fox last year reached a settlement in a lawsuit for not including those movies in a 007 box set marketed as containing “all” Bond films. Under the settlement the two studios distributed free digital copies of the non-Eon 007 films.

The following passage is from MGM’s third-quarter financial report for 2018.

Fox Home Entertainment (“Fox”) provides our physical home entertainment distribution on a worldwide basis (excluding certain territories) for a substantial number of our feature films and television series, including Spectre, Skyfall, Death Wish, RoboCop, Vikings, Get Shorty, The Handmaid’s Tale, Teen Wolf and other titles…Our agreement with Fox expires on June 30, 2020.

Disney had announced its Fox acquisition in December 2017. So MGM, when it issued its various 2018 financial reports, was aware that ownership of Fox Home Entertainment was likely to change.

Meanwhile, Bond 25 “physical” home video is spoken for by Universal, which is handling international distribution of the movie.

“Under this arrangement, MGM will retain digital and worldwide television distribution rights,” the studio said in a May 2018 press release about Bond 25. “Universal will also handle physical home entertainment distribution.”

It doesn’t take too much imagination to guess Universal may make a play for the other Bond films for “physical” home video after the current Fox deal expires.

Bond 25 is scheduled to be released in April 2020 and the home video products would be out in the second half of the year, after the Fox deal is over. It would make sense for a new marketing push for previous 007 films to accompany Bond 25 coming out on home video. That’d be easier if one entity handled it all.

Meanwhile, all of this is a footnote for Disney. The company currently is carrying out job cuts at Fox. Its Marvel Studios unit is making plans to use Marvel characters Fox had licensed.

Variety discusses MGM, Annapurna tensions about Bond 25

Annapurna logo that won’t be seen on Bond 25, according to Variety

Variety has a story today providing an update about the financial challenges facing Annapurna Pictures. It includes a passage indicating Annapurna and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, partners in a joint venture that releases movies in the U.S., have had some tensions concerning Bond 25.

Quick recap: MGM exited bankruptcy in 2010 without its own distribution operation. It cut a series of deals with other, bigger studios for distribution. Annapurna, meanwhile, started distributing films. MGM and Annapurna then formed a joint venture in fall 2017 to release each other’s movies in the U.S.

In 2018, it was announced the joint venture would handle Bond 25 in North America while Universal would perform international distribution. No details were released concerning how the studios would finance the movie. The past two 007 films, Skyfall and SPECTRE, were co-financed by MGM and Sony Pictures.

Earlier this year, the joint venture was given the name United Artists Releasing.

With that background in mind, this passage in the Variety story caught the blog’s eye: “Despite dipping into Annapurna’s deep pockets to roll out the upcoming 25th installment in the James Bond spy series…Annapurna would not be allowed” to show its logo on the next 007 film. According to Variety, an MGM executive “would bark at journalists” for including a mention of Annapurna.

What’s more, according to the story, Annapurna’s movie-releasing team now, essentially works for United Artists Releasing.

First Bond 25 spoilers may have emerged

The first actual Bond 25 spoilers may have emerged. No, the blog isn’t going to say what they are. But they’re available for those fans inclined to check them out.

Over the past week, outlets in Norway have shown construction of an outdoor set that may be in Bond 25. I had taken a pass because it didn’t seem 100 percent confirmed. But ONE STORY TODAY, references applications from a production entity called B25 noting that filming will occur March 25-31.

The documents apparently also describe what happens in the scene involved. To learn more, you can click on the link above and then check out a translation. You can also check out THIS TWEET from @JBNews_mews on Twitter which quotes (in English) from the story.

Needless to say (well, it should be), if you’re spoiler adverse don’t click on either link.

To be clear, the description isn’t definitive in terms of Bond 25’s overall plot. This is far from what happened with SPECTRE (and the hacking at Sony Pictures) where entire script drafts were suddenly out there. It’s more akin to Skyfall, where bits and pieces leaked out ahead of time. Eventually, at least one significant one (that M died in the film) came out but we’re not at the point with these Bond 25 spoilers.

For those who’ve followed Bond 25 pre-production closely, some possibilities will come to mind from the latest out of Norway.

About that buzz that Shatterhand will be B25’s title

Cover to the first-edition U.S. hardback edition of You Only Live Twice

There’s been quite a buzz this week that Shatterhand, the name of an alias adopted by Ernst Stavro Blofeld in the novel You Only Live Twice, will be the title of Bond 25.

The thing is, the idea has been applied to the as-yet unmade 25th 007 film, at various times in 2017 and 2018 as well as this month.

However, people have short memories. So here’s a recap. This week’s news isn’t exactly, well, news.

Let’s start with 2015’s SPECTRE.

There are indications Eon Productions was at least considering making the film a “soft” remake of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. In 2014, various drafts of the film’s script got out because of the hacking at Sony Pictures.

One draft included a secondary villain named Irma Bunt, Blofeld’s assistant in both the Majesty’s novel (and film) and You Only Live Twice novel.

Another draft, which this blog wrote about, ended with Bond telling Madeline Swann, “We have all the time in the world.” That, of course, is what Bond told Tracy just before the latter was killed in both the Majesty’s novel and film.

Neither bit made it into SPECTRE. Bond and Swann just drove off.

Flash forward to summer 2017.

On July 29, 2017, The Mirror says Bond 25 will be based on a 007 continuation novel by Raymond Benson titled Never Dream of Dying. However, the story also says the working title is Shatterhand.

Benson says on social media that he was never contacted by the Mirror and that he can only assume the story was a fabrication. Well, that seems to slam things shut. Shatterhand fever is forgotten. That is until….

Flash forward to summer 2018.

On Aug. 27, 2018, The Bond Blog, citing the Production Weekly website, says Shatterhand has been registered as a title for Bond 25. The Shatterhand buzz still lives.

Flash forward to this week.

Despite the fact that Production Weekly has listed Shatterhand as a working title for Bond 25 since last year, a number of outlets discovered that fact and treated it as news.

Among them: Comicbook.com, The Guardian, Empire, The Express. and, last but not least, the BBC.

Those stories, in turn, are recycled by readers on various social media outlets. Shatterhand fever burns hot.

In December, Bond 25 director Cary Fukunaga told the Daily Mail’s Baz Bamigboye that Lea Seydoux, SPECTRE’s female lead, will be back in the new film.

So, will Bond 25 be based on the You Only Live Twice novel? Will Seydoux’s Madeline Swann be Tracy 2.0?

Who knows? However, 2012’s Skyfall adapted bits from the Twice book as well as the 1965 novel The Man With the Golden Gun. So we’ll see. Regardless, Bond 25 has gotten a ton of free publicity from the recurring Shatterhand buzz.

Bond 25 questions: The glass half-full/half-empty edition

No time to panic..

So Bond 25 has been delayed again. It has now been assigned its third release date since July 2017. And the news came one day after fans had begun their one-year countdown art and memes.

As usual, the blog has questions. But the blog is switching up the format with this post.

Is this bad news?

Half-full answer: It’s not even a two-month delay. Nothing to see here. Move along. No reason to panic.

Half-empty answer: Any other shoes to drop?

What’s going on?

Half-full answer: Universal, which will distribute Bond 25 outside North America, is juggling its schedule. Fast & Furious 9 (working title) has been moved from April 10, 2020 to May 22, 2020. So it makes sense to movie Bond 25 to April 8 and get a start on the Easter weekend for 2020.

Half-empty answer: Bond 25 hasn’t enjoyed the best of luck. Some movies get moved earlier (Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation by months in 2015 and Avengers: Infinity War by a week in 2018).

Let’s say this release date won’t change (really). Will it be good for Bond?

Half-full answer: People go to movies at times other than summer and the Thanksgiving-Christmas period. Batman v Superman opened big during Easter weekend 2016. Admittedly it fell off quickly, but people came to see it opening weekend. Furious 7 (part of the Fast & Furious series) had a big opening during Easter weekend 2015.

Half-empty answer: We’ll see. This is new territory for Bond.

Isn’t this weird? Three release dates?

Half-full answer: Nothing to see here. Move along. Release dates change all the time.

Half-empty answer: Of course it’s weird. Let’s face it, Bond 25 has had a development full of twists and turns.

Star Daniel Craig and producer Barbara Broccoli each take an extended break after 2015’s SPECTRE. The first release date (November 2019) was announced in July 2017 when no distributor was in place (and wouldn’t be for months). Craig finally came back but that was followed by a long director search, one director signing but leaving (Danny Boyle) followed by a quick search for a replacement, etc., etc. etc.

So for argument’s sake, assume this newest delay is strictly Universal’s doing. It still comes on top of a longer-than-usual gap. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (Bond’s home studio) went bankrupt in 2010. That resulted in a four-year gap between Quantum of Solace and Skyfall. The current gap already was longer with nothing as calamitous involved.