Quantum’s 10th: Impact still felt on 007 franchise

International poster for Quantum of Solace

This fall marks the 10th anniversary of Quantum of Solace, the 22nd 007 film made by Eon Productions. It’s a production that still reverberates with the franchise.

It was the last time the makers of James Bond films tried to come out with an entry just two years after the previous installment. And it’s possible it will remain the last.

As Casino Royale was ending production, Sony Pictures put out a July 20, 2006 release saying it intended to release Bond 22 (as it was then known) quickly — May 2, 2008.

“As we wrap production on CASINO ROYALE we couldn’t be more excited about the direction the franchise is heading with Daniel Craig. Daniel has taken the origins of Ian Fleming’s James Bond portraying, with emotional complexity, a darker and edgier 007,” Eon’s Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli were quoted in the press release.

Writers Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, with three Bond films under their belt, were aboard to come up with a story for what Eon would later describe as the series’ first “direct sequel.”

There were soon signs the pace was causing some strains.

‘Very Nervous’
Director Roger Michell opted not to helm the movie because he felt the story wasn’t developed enough. In 2007, Michell gave an interview to The Times. The original link to the interview is broken, but the Commander Bond website’s summary includes some of Michell’s comments.

“‘Well, I did give up directing the Bond film,” Michell told The Times, according to the Commander Bond summary. “It was because in the end I didn’t feel comfortable with the Bond process, and I was very nervous that there was a start date but really no script at all. And I like to be very well prepared as a director.”

Eventually, Quantum was pushed back to a fall 2008 release. But there were still time pressures. The Writers Guild of America was in labor talks and a strike deadline was looming. The union went on strike from November 2007 to February 2008, with the Bond movie starting production in early 2008.

There are conflicting versions of the movie’s story process.

Marc Forster

The director hired for the movie, Marc Forster, said in an April 2008 Rotten Tomatoes story, said there was a reset after he arrived.

‘From Scratch’
“Once I signed on to do it we pretty much developed the script from scratch because I felt that it wasn’t the movie I wanted to make and we started with Paul Haggis from scratch,” Forster said in the story. Haggis was the writer who did the final drafts of Casino Royale.

“And I said to him these are the topics I am interested in this is what I would like to say, what’s important to me,” the director said. “And we developed it from there together. Then Barbara and Michael said they liked where we were going and they liked the script.”

In this interview, Forster said everything worked out fine.

““The good thing is that Paul and I and Daniel all worked on the script before the strike happened and got it where we were pretty happy with,” the director said. “Then we started shooting and the only problems I had with the script we were shooting in April, May and June so as soon as the strike was over we did another polish.”

The writer doing that polish, Forster said, was Joshua Zetumer. The scribe’s involvement with the film was noted in other stories written during the production.

More Complicated
Forster, in a Nov. 3, 2008 story on the Vulture culture blog of New York magazine, indicated things were more complicated.

“Haggis had an idea they weren’t fond of, and I didn’t know if it would work or not,” Forster told Vulture. “The idea was that Vesper in the last movie, maybe she had a kid, and there would be an orphan out there.”

Eventually, with the clocking ticking to a WGA strike, the idea of Bond searching for Vesper’s child was rejected. Haggis, though, delivered a script ahead of the WGA walkout.

Daniel Craig in 2012 during filming of Skyfall.

In 2011, as Skyfall was preparing production, a new scenario was unveiled.

Daniel Craig in an interview with Time Out London, said he and Forster were forced to rewrite the script as Quantum was being filmed.

The actor described what they had as a “bare bones of a script.” Because of the WGA strike, “We couldn’t employ a writer to finish it.”

This tale has emerged as the now-accepted version, with Joshua Zetumer the movie’s forgotten man.

(Note: The original Time out link is still up but when I called it up, I got a warning about a “malicious link” from my computer. This SUMMARY OF THE INTERVIEW ON INDIEWIRE has the same Craig quotes with no malicious link” warnings.)

The movie did fine at the box office, with $586 million globally. But Quantum’s biggest effect may be that Eon doesn’t want to rush things if it can help it.

External Pressures’
“Sometimes there are external pressures from a studio who want you to make it in a certain time frame or for their own benefit, and sometimes we’ve given into that,” Eon’s Barbara Broccoli told the Los Angeles Times in 2012.

Barbara Broccoli

“But following what we hope will be a tremendous success with ‘Skyfall,’ we have to try to keep the deadlines within our own time limits and not cave in to external pressures,” the Eon boss told the newspaper.

She didn’t mention either Sony or Quantum of Solace. But it’s not much of a stretch to wonder if both were on her mind during the interview.

What’s more, a Sony executive told theater executives in 2012 that Bond 24 (eventually titled SPECTRE) would be out in 2014. Broccoli and Craig, in a May 1, 2012 interview with Collider, shut down such talk.

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 yet.

SPECTRE, of course, came out in 2015, not 2014.

Today, Quantum occupies an odd space. Despite its financial success, it wasn’t discussed much in the 2012 documentary Everything Or Nothing. But many fans feel it’s more than a worthy entry in series.

Regardless of how you feel about the movie, though, it had an impact on the franchise. Trying to make a James Bond film within two years is now unthinkable.

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Eon’s Rhythm Section May Resume Production in June

Barbara Broccoli

The Rhythm Section, Eon Productions non-007 spy film, may resume production in June, Deadline: Hollywood reported, citing “several sources.”

The movie, part of a diversifying portfolio of projects for Eon boss Barbara Broccoli, had shut down production following a hand injury to star Blake Lively in December. The movie was about half-filmed when the injury occurred, according to The Hollywood Reporter,which reported the production half late last month.

The suspension of production has not affected The Rhythm Section’s February 2019 release date, Deadline said in its story today. Eon is making the movie with financing from Global Road, formerly IM Global. Paramount will distribute the film.

It is unclear if Eon’s problems with The Rhythm Section will affect Bond 25. The movie has a release date of November 2019. At the moment, the project has no announced distributor. The last two Bond films, Skyfall and SPECTRE, began filming in, respectively, November 2011 and December 2014 and were released in fall 2012 and 2015.

h/t to @Bond25Film on Twitter for pointing out the Deadline story.

Eon’s Rhythm Section Shuts Down, THR Reports

Barbara Broccoli

The Rhythm Section, Eon Productions’ non-007 spy film, has shut down production after star Blake Lively suffered a hand injury in December, The Hollywood Reporter said.

The key detail from the story:

Lively sustained the injury while doing a stunt on the Dublin (Ireland) set in December. At the time, production was temporarily suspended while she took time to heal. However, sources close to the situation now tell THR that Lively’s initial hand surgery did not go as planned and the actress must undergo a second surgery and will need more time to recover.

It is currently unclear when filming will recommence. One insider said that just under half the movie had been shot while another source said it could be five months before the production resumes.

The Rhythm Section is part of Eon boss Barbara Broccoli’s growing portfolio of non-007 projects.

The project was announced in July. It’s based on a novel by Mark Burnell. It’s currently slated for a Feb. 22, 2019 release date via Paramount, though a lengthy shutdown may change that.

Bond 25, the next James Bond film, has announced a November 2019 release date in the United States, but has no announced distributor.

Broccoli has diversified from Bond, being involved with smaller-scale dramas, such as Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool, as well as plays.

The Rhythm Section has a budget of about $50 million, financed by Global Road, formerly IM Global, THR said. That’s about 20 percent of the budget (after product placement deals) of 2015’s SPECTRE, the most recent Bond film.

“Hiatus on the production of The Rhythm Section has been extended due to an ongoing issue with Blake Lively’s hand injury sustained while filming an action sequence on the action thriller at the end of last year,” Eon said in a statement, according to THR.

What we think (hope?) will happen with Bond 25 in 2018

Happy 2018! After the “lost year” (2016) and the year of mostly looking backward (2017),  we’re in a year where the James Bond film franchise should advance forward.

With that in mind, a look at what we think (perhaps hope) will finally be settled about Bond 25.

Resolve the distribution/financing: This is practically the only 007-related site that even brings this up. Some have accused the blog of sounding like a broken record. Maybe so. But once more with feeling:

–You can’t get a movie into theaters without someone to get it theaters.

–Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 007’s home studio, is taking steps to become a “big boy” studio capable of releasing films. But it’s not there yet. (MGM formed a joint venture with Annapurna Pictures to release each other’s movies but, for now, Bond 25 is not part of that deal.)

–Moreover, Sony, which distributed Skyfall and SPECTRE, also supplied half of the production budget for each of those movies.

–Unless, MGM is willing to go all in to pay the bills (which it has not indicated yet), Bond 25 financing won’t be settled until the distributor issue is settled.

–Until the financing is settled, nobody is going to get paid for working on the movie.

Select a director: You can’t film a movie without a director. MGM and Eon have announced a Bond 25 release date (November 2019 in the United States) but haven’t gotten around to naming a director.

Denis Villeneuve (who in an interview with Screen Crush said yet again he’s working on a new version of Dune and can’t work on Bond 25) ? Yann Demange? David Mackenzie? Somebody else?

At this point, Eon Productions has had months and months to decide. To make that November 2019 release date it announced, Eon needs to move relatively soon.

Cast the movie: Bond 23 (later titled Skyfall) was officially announced in January 2011. Over the next several months, there were stories about casting of the movie that pretty much turned out to be correct (Ralph Fiennes, Javier Bardem, Naomie Harris and Ben Whishaw, among others).

Again, if all parties are serious about that Noveber 2019 release date for Bond 25, you would expect to hear possible casting stories in the next six months or so.

Begin production: Skyfall started principal photography in November 2011 for a fall 2012 release. SPECTRE began filming Dec. 8, 2014 for a fall 2015 release.

Once more, if everyone is serious about the announced November 2019 release date, it would seem production would be underway by the end of 2018.

Happy New Year, everyone.

Disney-Fox footnote: Will Fox fanfare survive?

One subject that hasn’t come up much is whether the Fox Fanfare — that familiar piece of music that accompanies the 20th Century Fox logo at the start of Fox movies — will survive Walt Disney Co. buying the Fox studio.

The fanfare has been around since 1933, back when it was 20th Century Pictures Inc. It was written by composer Alfred Newman (1901-1970), the father of Skyfall and SPECTRE composer Thomas Newman. Here’s an early version:

In 1935, a merger took place and the familiar 20th Century Fox name was born.

In 1953, the fanfare was extended because Fox began showing movies in a new widescreen format. And the studio wanted viewers to be aware of it right away.

More recently, Fox has used a 3D version of its logo, including the extended logo music.

The Fox fanfare was part of the first six Star Wars movies. But it has been absent since Disney acquired Lucasfilm Ltd., the maker of those films. There has been some discussion whether the fanfare could be reunited with Star Wars in light of Disney’s $52.4 billion announced acquisition of most of Fox.

Meanwhile, Jon Burlingame, an author and historian of film and TV music, made clear he wants the fanfare to be preserved after Disney takes possession of the Fox assets.

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Why 2018 will be an eventful 007 film year

Steady as she goes scenario: Eon boss Barbara Broccoli and Daniel Craig make another movie together without major changes.

No matter what happens, 2018 is shaping up an eventful year for the James Bond film franchise.

Steady as she goes scenario: Eon Productions gears up its 25th 007 film, aiming for a fall 2019 release.

Eon (and studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer) on July 24 announced a November 2019 release date for the United States, with an earlier release in the U.K.

Under “steady as she goes,” a director gets announced (presumably early in 2018). Pre-production commences. Casting announcements take place. Principal photography begins before the end of 2018. In most years, that’d be plenty for fans to absorb. (Think Skyfall between January and November 2011.)

Apple logo

Disruption scenario: This is not the most stable time in the movie business.

For example, Walt Disney Co. is reported to be negotiating to buy most of 21st Century Fox’s assets (including the 20th Century Fox studio). The movie industry isn’t the most stable in general.

Could this affect the Bond film franchise? Back in September, The Hollywood Reporter reported that tech companies Apple and Amazon were sniffing around the Bond film rights. That’d be a huge change. Since then? No word at all. THR hasn’t followed up. Other news outlets that follow tech companies closely haven’t followed up.

Disruption may happen for Agent 007 in 2018. Then again, you can’t bet on it.

Logo of Syncopy, Christopher Nolan’s production company

Middle ground scenario: Every so often, the notion arises that director Christopher Nolan, a Bond fan, might get involved with the 007 films.

Most recently, the Archivo 007 Spanish fan website said Dec. 2,  citing two people it didn’t identify, that Nolan “is already working” on Bond 25.

In the 21st century, Eon has employed “auteur” directors such as Marc Forster and Sam Mendes. But Nolan is a special case. He has his own production company (Snycopy). His wife, Emma Thomas, works as producer on Nolan films.

To call this unconfirmed is an understatement. “He wasn’t doing it when I spoke to him on Friday!” Baz Bamigboye, a Daily Mail writer who has had a number of Bond scoops proven correct, wrote on Twitter on Dec. 3, after interviewing Nolan.

Nevertheless, there are has been a fascination among Bond fans with Nolan. Also, in 2015’s SPECTRE, Eon employed Nolan regulars editor Lee Smith and director of photography Hoyte van Hoytema.

Whatever scenario you favor, something’s got to happen in 2018. It’s a few weeks early, but Happy New Year.

Recap of Skyfall, SPECTRE director announcements

The past sometimes is prologue. Sometimes, not. But here are details when the director was officially announced for the past two 007 films, Skyfall and SPECTRE.

Skyfall: Sam Mendes officially was announced as the director of the 23rd 007 film produced by Eon Productions on Jan. 11, 2011.

There had been news reports that Mendes was working on the film before that. But the official announcement was made via e-mail on Jan. 11. The same release had the U.S. release date of Nov. 9, 2012. Skyfall began production in November 2011.

SPECTRE: Mendes, after Skyfall was released, said he wasn’t interested in coming back. Nevertheless, on July 11, 2013, Eon Productions, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Sony Pictures, said Mendes would direct the then-untitled Bond 24.

At the time off the announcement, there was no script. Writer John Logan wouldn’t submit that until spring 2014. SPECTRE production didn’t begin until December 2014 after Near Purvis and Robert Wade submitted a rewrite of Logan’s work.

What does this mean? Roughly speaking, Bond 25 is a bit behind SPECTRE’s pace but can still match the pace of Skyfall.

There are still a lot of balls being juggled. Distribution (and therefore financing) still hasn’t been locked down. There’s no director of record. Still, at this point, Bond 25 can still easily make a U.S. release date of November 2019. That’s the date Eon and MGM announced on July 24, 2017.