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.

UPDATED: MGM’s possible studio partners for Bond 25

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Back in April, the blog took a look at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s potential studio partners for Bond 25.

Well, no decision has been reached (or at least announced) since then, but there have been developments among the studios. So here’s an updated look at the studios that may co-finance and distribute the next James Bond film.

Sony (the incumbent): Sony Pictures, through its Columbia Pictures brand, has released the last four Bond films but its most recent contract expired with SPECTRE.

Sony’s share of the Bond profits were paltry the past two films. New leadership took over the studio and Amy Pascal, the executive who negotiated that deal, is gone.

Still, it may be the case that the more things change, the more they stay the same. Sony this summer tried to revive Ghostbusters, this time featuring four women ghostbusters. (Pascal was one of the producers.) The Hollywood Reporter said in an August story that the new film is on track to lose $70 million and that a sequel is unlikely.

Sony and Marvel Studios are working together on a new Spider-Man movie (with Marvel in creative control). But Sony remains in need of a movie “franchise.”

Radar Online, an entertainment and gossip website, this weekend RAN A POST saying that Sony “should be announcing any day that the studio is re-upping the distribution rights for the Bond series.” Further, it says Sony (it doesn’t mention MGM) is offering Daniel Craig, 48, $150 million to do two more Bond movies.

We’ll slap the Caveat Emptor label on that. One of Sony’s problems with the last two 007 movies is, while they generated $2 billion in worldwide box office, the studio was third in line (behind MGM and Eon Productions) in getting money despite putting up half of the large production budgets.

Paying your leading man $75 million per movie isn’t going to help studio profitability. But we’ll see what happens. Regardless, Sony’s interest in Bond likely remains high, especially after this summer’s Ghostbusters movie.

Warner Bros.: The studio has its hands full with its slate of movies featuring DC Comics characters.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is the No. 5 movie worldwide so far this year at $872.7 million. Another DC-based movie, Suicide Squad, featuring villains forced to work for the government, is No. 8 worldwide at $643.4 million.

Most studios would love such a result, but “Mr. Warner” was hoping for more than $1 billion for Batman v Superman. Rival Marvel Studios, part of Walt Disney Co., is No. 1 for 2016 at $1.15 billion for Captain America: Civil War.

Still, the studio isn’t backing down, with a movie version of the Justice League in the works for 2017, picking up where Batman v Superman left off. Does the studio have the bandwidth to also co-finance Bond films?

Paramount: When last we looked in on Paramount, there was a lot of turmoil at its parent company, Viacom.

Well, that soap opera reached a resolution last month, including the forced departure of Paramount chief Philippe Dauman. That raises the question whether new leadership at the studio can mount an effort to strike a deal with MGM.

Paramount co-financed and released MGM’s Ben-Hur remake, which reached theaters last month. The movie bombed, apparently the answer to a question audiences weren’t asking.

20th Century Fox: Not much has changed here. Fox has a deal with MGM to handle home video distribution of Bond movies.

 

Caveat Emptor: U.K. tabloid weighs in on Craig AGAIN

Daniel Craig in SPECTRE's main titles

Daniel Craig in SPECTRE’s main titles

Once more, with feeling.

The U.K. tabloid, The Sun, HAS A STORY saying that Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer is willing to push back Bond 25 to 2018 to keep Daniel Craig as James Bond.

It was The Sun that less than a week ago asserted that Craig was quitting the 007 role. As originally phrased, The Sun said:  “DANIEL Craig is quitting as James Bond after signing up for a US TV series. He will star in Purity, which is set to run for several series of 20 episodes each.”

THAT STORY was later softened to say, “DANIEL Craig has signed up for a US TV series, throwing his future as James Bond into doubt. He will star in Purity, which is set to run for several series of 20 episodes each.” However, you can tell the story’s original emphasis by its URL that ends with Daniel-Craig-quits-James-Bond-007-role-for-US-telly-series.html.

In this newest story, The Sun has this passage:

Bond franchise bosses are so desperate to keep him in the famous tuxedo that they are willing to delay the next movie so he can film the show first.

MGM Studios, which produces the Bond flicks, told Daniel it will push back the next movie to 2018 if necessary.

A source said: “Daniel leaving the franchise at this moment is something MGM cannot stomach. (emphasis added)

Why the Caveat Emptor label should apply.

–The Sun said Craig’s possible participation in the television project is “throwing his future as James Bond into doubt.” No, The Sun’s original story saying he was definitely quitting is what attracted the attention. Other U.K. tabloids did stories, citing The Sun’s original version of its first story.

–Things were already looking doubtful for Bond 25 coming out in 2017. Craig is committed to an off-Broadway production of Othello this year.

The exact dates haven’t been announced. But with both Skyfall and SPECTRE, principal photography began late in the years before their release dates (November 2011 for Skyfall, December 2014 for SPECTRE).

Also, Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, the co-bosses of Eon Productions, previously have not sounded enthusiastic about bringing out 007 on an every-other-year schedule.

–As stated before, nothing much can happen on Bond 25 until MGM selects a studio partner for Bond 25. The contract of Sony, which has released the past four 007 films, expires with SPECTRE.

MGM, slimmed down after a 2010 bankruptcy, doesn’t have the capability of releasing movies on its own. MGM has to either re-up with Sony or find a replacement. Bond 25 can’t get a release date until there’s somebody to actually release the movie.

FT tries to analyze 007’s post-SPECTRE financial future

SPECTRE teaser poster

SPECTRE teaser poster

The Financial Times, IN A STORY POSTED TODAY, tries to analyze the post-SPECTRE financial future of the James Bond film franchise.

The U.K.-based financial publication was prompted by how Sony Pictures’ deal to release James Bond films ends with SPECTRE, the 24th 007 film due for release in November.

Here are some items of note from the FT:

Releasing 007 films is a nice, but not stupendous business, for a studio: The 007 franchise is owned by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Danjaq/Eon Productions (the Broccoli-Wilson family).

MGM, however, is too small after a 2010 bankruptcy and reorganization, to release Bond movies on its own. It needs a partner.

Sony was part of a group that owned MGM when Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace were released. Post-bankruptcy, Sony was MGM’s partner for releasing 2012’s Skyfall and this year’s SPECTRE.

An excerpt from the FT:

“While it’s a good piece of business the financial upside or downside is not significant on either end,” says a person close to the studio. “The studio can make good money but not runaway money.”

The FT story dovetails with a 2013 STORY IN THE NEW YORK TIMES that reported how Sony was third in line for profits from Skyfall, with the Broccoli-Wilson family and MGM taking their cut first.

Nevertheless, the FT said various studios — including Time Warner’s Warner Bros. and 21st Century’s 20th Century Fox — will still be interested in wrestling the Bond releasing deal from Sony.

Securing a new 007 releasing deal may be related to additional financial deals by MGM: The Financial Times says MGM may still sell stock to the public in an initial public offering or a simple sale to somebody else.

“The studio could arguably be worth more if a buyer knows a Bond distribution deal is still to be done,” according to the FT story by Matthew Garrahan. “Sony, Warner Bros, Fox and the rest of Hollywood will be watching closely.”

To read the entire Financial Times story, CLICK HERE. A shoutout to reader Paul Wynn who brought this to our attention on our Facebook page.

Kirk Kerkorian, mogul who affected 007 films, dies

Kirk Kerkorian

Kirk Kerkorian

Kirk Kerkorian, a business mogul whose ownership of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer affected the James Bond film series, died Monday night at 98, according to obituaries in THE NEW YORK TIMES and THE WALL STREET JOURNAL.

Kerkorian bought and sold MGM three times between 1969 and 2004, according to the Journal’s obit. During his first stint as MGM’s owner, the studio acquired United Artists in 1981.

UA was the original studio that released the James Bond films produced by Eon Productions. UA ended up controlling half the franchise when Eon co-founder Harry Saltzman sold out in 1975 because of personal financial problems.

Eon’s relationship with MGM wasn’t as close as the one it enjoyed with UA. For one thing, MGM always seemed to be in the middle of financial restructurings that adversely affected the 007 film series.

Ted Turner bought MGM in the mid-1980s, a deal financed with debt, and ended up selling the studio back to Kerkorian while Turner kept MGM’s film library for his cable networks. That library ended up with Time Warner, the parent company of Warner Bros., after it acquired Turner’s company in the 1990s.

Kerkorian sold MGM again in 1990, this time to Italian financier Giancarlo Parretti. Eon in 1991 filed a lawsuit, objecting to television rights sales for the Bond films conducted under Parretti.

The lawsuit was a major reason the six-year hiatus for 007 movies between 1989 and 1995. A settlement was reached in 1993 (CLICK HERE to view a UPI.com story with details).

Still, the hiatus was a contributing factor to the end of Timothy Dalton’s two-picture reign as 007.

John Calley, a new UA executive, reportedly wanted to replace Dalton. Dalton announced he was leaving the role, paving the way for Pierce Brosnan to start a four-picture run as Bond from 1995 to 2002.

Kerkorian became MGM’s owner yet again in 1996, purchasing the studio from Credit Lyonnais, which had seized MGM from Parretti after a loan default.

Kerkorian sold MGM one last time in 2005, this time to a group that included Sony. But the group’s finances crumbled and MGM went into bankruptcy in 2010, a factor in the four-year gap between Bond movies from 2008 to 2012. This time, however, Daniel Craig remained in place as Bond after MGM exited bankruptcy and 007 production resumed with 2012’s Skyfall.

Wilson and Broccoli to produce Snowden movie

Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson

Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson

The co-bosses of Eon Productions, Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, are slated to produce a movie about NSA leaker Edward Snowden, entertainment news websites reported including VARIETY.COM and DEADLINE: HOLLYWOOD.

Sony optioned “No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State,” a book by journalist Glenn Greenwald, for Wilson and Broccoli to produce, according to the websites.

Several studios were seeking to make the book into a movie, The New York Times reported in October 2013. The Times, at that time, identified Barbara Broccoli as being part of the Sony effort. Sony’s Columbia Pictures has released the last three Bond movies and will do so again with 2015’s Bond 24.

Wilson and Broccoli have pursued a number of non-Bond film projects in recent years. It’s part of a new normal at Eon, where the principals want longer breaks between 007 movies to work on other projects.

Craig and Broccoli say no schedule set for Bond 24

Skyfall’s producer and star suggest a Sony executive was “a little overexcited.”

Daniel Craig and Barbara Broccoli, IN AN INTERVIEW WITH COLLIDER.COM LAST WEEK, said there isn’t a firm schedule for Bond 24.

Here’s an excerpt:

(Question:) Last week Rory (Bruer), the president of distribution of Sony, announced Bond 24 for I guess late 2014…

Broccoli: He was getting a little overexcited (laughs). We’re just actually focusing on this movie. One hopes that in the future we’ll be announcing other films, but no one’s officially announced it.

Craig: No one’s announced anything. He got a little ahead of himself (laughs). It’s very nice that he has the confidence to be able to do that, but we haven’t finished this movie (Skyfall) yet.

Two things we’ve noted before: Sony wants Bond 24 to come out in 2014 and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer has said it wants the Bond series to resume an every-other-year schedule. But Eon Productions owns half the franchise, and nobody other than Eon can produce a Bond movie as long as that’s the case.

On the other hand, variations of the line “nothing’s been announced” are meaningless. Announcements come at the end of the process. Craig and Broccoli said it hadn’t been officially announced that Ben Whishaw would be playing Q, or a similar character, in Skyfall. Then, around the same time, director Sam Mendes TOLD THE U.K. SUN NEWSPAPER that’s exactly what happened and that it was all his idea.

Our guess, and it’s only a guess: Don’t expect Skyfall Bond 24 until 2015. To have Bond 24 ready in two years after Skyfall, at least some work on a story should be underway by this fall. Maybe it has, or will, start by that time and nothing has been “officially announced.” On the other hand, Eon isn’t known for multitasking. Anyway, we shall see what we shall see.

007 questions about Bond 24

The past month has seen a blitz of stories on entertainment Web sites, U.K. newspapers and other outlets about Skyfall. The stories spurred us to think ahead about where the 007 film series goes from here.

“Questions about Bond 24? We’re still filming this one!”


001. Is Sam Mendes coming back to direct Bond 24? You could rephrase the question, “Is (NAME HERE) coming back to direct Bond (XX)?” The series hasn’t had a director do consecutive movies since John Glen did five in a row in the 1980s. Since Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli assumed control, only Martin Campbell has directed two and they were separated by more than a decade (GoldenEye and Casino Royale). The others were all one and done.

002. If not Mendes, then who? Most likely a “prestige” director. Here’s a quote from Barbara Broccoli IN AN INTERVIEW IN COMINGSOON.NET

We’ve always wanted a director that would put a stamp on the movie, so we’ve never been one to hire directors for hire.

It wasn’t always that way with the Bond series. Terence Young, who helmed three of the first four 007 films, and Guy Hamilton (four in total) were directors for hire. Peter Hunt was a rookie director as was John Glen, both promoted from being second unit directors. But that was Albert R. Broccoli’s Eon, not the current version.

003. Come on. Isn’t this an upgrade in quality? Check back with us after Skyfall. Marc Forster was a prestige hire. In our view that hire didn’t work out so well. (To read an opposing view, CLICK HERE to read an essay by Paul Rowlands.) “Directors for hire” turned out Bond movies such as From Russia With Love, Goldfinger and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Pedigree doesn’t guarantee a great movie.

004. Is Daniel Craig coming back? Michael G. Wilson has talked about trying to get Craig to do eight movies eventually. If someone were dealing tarot cards, we’d guess they’d indicate Craig would be back for at least one more film. Whether Craig makes it to eight depends in part on another question….

005. Will Bond 24 really come out in 2014? Sony (which is releasing Skyfall and Bond 24 in a deal with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer) says yes. MGM is counting on an every-other-year for Bond movies. Eon hasn’t been heard from and Sony and MGM need Eon to actually produce the movies. Plus, there are some scenarios we see where Bond 24 would come out later than 2014.

006. Such as? Hypothetical situation: Sam Mendes does come back as director. The Collider Web site ran a transcript of a group interview Mendes gave about Skyfall. Here’s a quote that caught our eye:

But, it’s fair to say that there’s no screenplay that wouldn’t be improved by having a year more to work on it. There’s always trying to find ways, different interesting ways of telling a story.

That doesn’t sound like a guy who’d rush things to meet an every-other-year schedule. Plus, one of the most consistent talking points from Skyfall principals is how the four-year gap between Quantum of Solace and Skyfall turned out well because there was more time to work on the script. Two years sounds like a lot of time until you consider principal photography alone takes six months or more.

007. Do you like playing spoil sport? No, and that’s not the purpose here. We’re just pointing out there’s a lot of uncertainty despite public announcements (i.e. Sony saying Bond 24 will be out in two years). And we’d rather have this type of uncertainty compared with 2010 when MGM was having financial troubles and going into bankruptcy court.

Bond 24 in 2014? Here’s a caveat

Michael G. Wilson: the agony and ecstasy

Earlier this week, Sony Corp. representatives said at a CinemaCon event in Las Vegas that it plans to release Bond 24, the next 007 film after Skyfall, in 2014. (See THIS MI6 007 FAN WEB SITE STORY which was the basis of posts on various Web sites)

The announcement about a year-and-a-half after Metro-Goldwyn Mayer, which controls half of the 007 franchise, said in a bankruptcy filing it wanted to restore 007 movies to an every-other-year schedule starting in 2012 as part of its reorganization plan. Both this year’s Skyfall and Bond 24 call for Sony to release the Bond films in a deal with MGM.

So, Bond fans can count on another 007 films two years after Skyfall comes out this fall, right? Hang on a minute.

We have yet to hear Eon Productions, which controls the other half of the 007 franchise, weigh in on the subject. Sony can’t release a Bond film unless Eon makes one. This is the same Eon Productions whose co-boss, Michael G. Wilson, has complained for years about the rigors of makes James Bond films.

Is Eon on board with making Bond 24 in time for a 2014 release? Maybe it is, but nobody knows at this point.

Wilson’s step-father, Eon co-founder Albert R. Broccoli, lived for making Bond movies. Wilson, his successor (along with half-sister Barbara Broccoli) seems a lot more reserved.

Don’t get us wrong. This is not a predition that it won’t happen. But until Eon makes known it concurs with the desires of Sony and MGM to resume an every-other-year schedule, it’s not a sure thing.

MGM watch: Craig’s `Dragon Tatoo’ loses money, LA Times says

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, trying to comeback from bankruptcy, had a setback, according to the Company Town blog of the Los Angeles Times: The Girl With the Dragon Tatoo, starring Daniel Craig, ended up a money loser.

Here’s an excerpt:

Returns of $231 million in worldwide box office wasn’t enough to turn a profit on “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.”

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer disclosed in financial results released this week that it is booking what Co-Chief Executive Gary Barber called a “modest loss” on the film. On a conference call with shareholders, he said the independent studio, which covered 20% of the approximately $100-million production budget for the movie co-financed and distributed by Sony Pictures, needed “Dragon Tattoo” to collect about 10% more revenue in order to break even.

You can read the entire story BY CLICKING HERE. According to the Los Angeles Times, MGM is in talks with Sony to reduce the budget for any future installments.

We reference this story for a couple of reasons: 1) MGM owns half of the James Bond franchise along with Eon Productions and “Dragon Tatoo” was one of its first big projects since exiting bankruptcy; 2) Daniel Craig, the current cinema 007, was the movie’s star. When MGM was coping with its financial ills, there was speculation whether Craig would cease playing 007 while starring in “Dragon Tatoo” sequels. Whether any such sequels materialize remains to be seen.

MGM and Sony, meanwhile, are co-financing Skyfall, the 23rd James Bond film and the two have committed to collaborate on Bond 24. MGM, as part of its bankruptcy plan, said it wants to get Bond films back on an every-other-year schedule, with Bond 24 coming out in 2014. That, too, remains to be seen.

UPDATE: The Los Angeles Times, in a SEPARATE STORY says MGM has regained control of the United Artists brand from Tom Cruise. UA, when it was actually a studio and not just a label, released the first dozen 007 films produced by Eon Productions. UA got absorbed by MGM after Transamerica Corp. dumped it. The UA name was last on a Bond film with 1997’s Tomorrow Never Dies.