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.

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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.

RE-POST: Why Mendes shouldn’t direct Bond 25

Sam Mendes

Sam Mendes

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

A year ago, a Sam Mendes film project went up in smoke. That got Bond fans talking whether he might return to direct Bond 25. Then, Mendes was attached to a Disney live-action adaption of Pinocchio.

But now, Mendes is no longer attached to that project. So, again, there’s talk such as THIS STORY in the Express) wondering whether Mendes might direct Bond 25 after all.

Originally the blog was going to ignore it. But, just in case, what follows is the text of a November 2016 post. All points still apply.

A major non-007 Sam Mendes project, a movie adaptation of The Voyeur’s Hotel, has evaporated, according to the Deadline: Hollywood website. That’s because of a documentary coming out concerning the person who is the the same subject as the non-fiction book.

That has gotten some James Bond fans wondering if Mendes could be available to direct Bond 25 (whenever it gets made) after helming Skyfall and SPECTRE.

To quote a retired comic, “Oh, I hope not.” Here are some reasons why.

He’s never sounded enthusiastic about directing a third Bond film: In July 2015, he told the BBC that, “I don’t think I could go down that road again. You do have to put everything else on hold.”

In May 2016, according to a story by The Associated Press, he said: “I’m a storyteller. And at the end of the day, I want to make stories with new characters.”

(That AP link has been broken. However, here’s a Deadline: Hollywood story about the same event with the same quote.)

Directing a Bond film is a big undertaking. If he has even the slightest doubt (and it sounds he has big doubts), he shouldn’t attempt it.

Enough with the homages: Skyfall had homages to past Bond films, including bringing back the Goldfinger version of the Aston Martin DB5.

That continued with SPECTRE. The DB5, despite being blown to smithereens in Skyfall, is miraculously put back together in SPECTRE. A fight between Bond (Daniel Craig) and Hinx (Dave Bautista) seemed modeled after a similar scene in From Russia With Love. The Independent published a story listing other homages.

Mendes can’t help himself. The next movie, when ever it may come out, needs a break from homages.

No more boasting:  In an April 2014 interview on The Charlie Rose Show, Mendes said he cast all the major supporting characters, including Tanner.

Problem: Tanner was played by Rory Kinnear, who first portrayed the character in 2008’s Quantum of Solace, a film Mendes had nothing to do with.

Mendes also claimed that in Skyfall “for the first time characters were allowed to age.” Problem: He’s wrong, it happened a number of times in Bond films.

Enough already.

If Mendes comes back, that means Thomas Newman comes back as composer: Newman is Mendes’ guy. Fans have mixed opinions about Newman’s work on Skyfall. He did get an Oscar nomination but didn’t win.

However, with SPECTRE, it was clear that Newman had run out of ideas. He recycled a number of Skyfall music bits in SPECTRE. That’s true not just of the compositions, but the sound and orchestration.

John Barry used the 007 theme in five Bond films (From Russia With Love, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, Diamonds Are Forever and Moonraker). But it had different arrangements and orchestration each time. The repeated music in SPECTRE sounds the same as it did in Skyfall.

What’s more, based on his other work, it’s clear that smaller-scale dramas (such as Bridge of Spies) are more in Newman’s wheelhouse. He’s a talented composer with such films. Bond films just aren’t his strength.

Let someone else have a try on Bond 25. But that probably won’t happen if Mendes is back as director.

Bond 25: The post Villeneuve (?) edition

Denis Villeneuve

This week, director Denis Villeneuve spoke — and 007 fans have been chewing over his words. With that in mind, it’s time to mull over some more questions.

Is Villeneuve really out of the picture?

If you believe the Den of Geek website, he’s outta here! Headline: “James Bond 25: Denis Villeneuve Turns Down Directing.” He’s off working on a new version of Dune.

However, Den of Geek didn’t do its own reporting. It analyzed Villeneuve comments from the 4 Quadrant podcast.

The blog listened to that podcast. It’s clear Villeneuve loves Dune. But he also said of Dune, “Right now, I don’t know if the movie will be made.”

Is that significant? Well, Eon Productions boss Barbara Broccoli waited plenty long for star Daniel Craig to decide whether he wanted to come back to play 007 for a fifth time.

Craig, according to Daily Mail scribe Baz Bamigboye (who has a history of 007 scoops proven correct), is “rooting for” Villeneuve to direct Bond 25.

Given how Broccoli has given her star plenty of time to decide whether to come back or not, is it a big stretch to indulge his taste in directors — at least for a while longer? At least long enough to see whether Dune will be made?

Not really.

Remember, this quote. “Daniel Craig is Bond, forever, as far as I’m concerned,” Broccoli told the Huffington Post in 2015.

But there’s a release date! They can’t wait forever, can they? No, but Bond 25 hasn’t exactly reeked of urgency. Meanwhile, release dates can be changed. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice had three release dates.

And (and long-time readers knew this was coming) Bond 25 doesn’t have a distributor yet. That November 2019 date is written in sand until there’s a distributor.

This is NOT a prediction. However, is it unreasonable to think Broccoli and Craig (who had a co-producer credit in SPECTRE) might wait a while longer to see if they could snare Villeneuve?

Not unreasonable at all. We’ll see.

Bond 25: The post-Waltz (?) edition

So, actor Christoph Waltz says he won’t be in Bond 25 after playing Blofeld in SPECTRE. Naturally the blog has some questions.

Does he mean it? That’s an appropriate question that can’t really be answered right now.

Waltz, after all, repeatedly denied he was playing Blofeld in SPECTRE.

Also, this decade, Naomie Haris denied she was playing Moneypenny in Skyfall. And, of course, it was revealed in the final scene she was. Thus, comments from actors tend to require the appropriate dosage of salt.

If Waltz really is gone, what does it mean? One possibility: “Waltz seems to be saying Blofeld will be back in Bond 25, but with a new actor in the role,” writes Philip Nobile Jr. of Birth.Movies.Death. (He also notes the possibility that Waltz may have been fibbing again.)

Another possibility is Blofeld’s not in Bond 25, that the movie will be a one-off adventure.

Initially, Skyfall was a one-off not directly died to the preceding installment, Quantum of Solace. Skyfall’s villain, Silva (Javier Bardem) was after revenge against Judi Dench’s M.

In the writing stages of SPECTRE, the creative team decided on a creative arc that would tie all of the Daniel Craig films together. Having secured the rights to the Blofeld character, SPECTRE specified that Blofeld was “the author of all your pain” for Bond.

Prior to the Craig films, the 007 series was light on continuity. You had occasional references to previous films but it wasn’t a major priority. That changed when Eon Productions opted to make Quantum a “direct sequel” of 2006’s Casino Royale.

We’ll see. For now, Bond 25 has no director. Whatever work has been done on a story will likely be reworked once a director is on board.

Waltz says he won’t be in Bond 25

Bond 25 unofficial logo 2
Actor Christoph Waltz, who played Blofeld in SPECTRE, said he won’t be returning for Bond 25.

He was interviewed briefly at the Festa del Cinema di Roma and the it was posted on the Facebook page of Talky Movie.

“No,” Waltz replied when asked specifically if he would be in Bond 25. “No, I’m really sad. But that’s the tradition…I would have liked to.”

Potential caveat: Waltz denied he was playing Blofeld more than once before that movie was released in 2015.

Eon Productions and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer have announced a 2019 release date for Bond 25. But, at the moment, there’s no distributor in place to actually get the film into theaters.

The Archivo 007 website reported this earlier. I spotted because of a post on Twitter by @Bond25Film.

To view the Talky Movie video of Waltz, CLICK HERE.

Here’s why the Bond 25 distributor is a legitimate question

On Twitter, the blog got some push back about continuing to ask about what’s going on with Bond 25’s distributor.

“I think you need to chill about the distributor,” a Bond fan wrote on Twitter. “It’s going to happen don’t you think.”

Here’s why asking about the Bond 25 distributor is a legitimate question.

–The distributor will likely supply a good chunk of the production budget: Sony Pictures (via its Columbia Pictures brand) co-financed Skyfall and SPECTRE while only getting 25 percent of the profits.

Because of the Sony hacks of 2014, it’s known that Sony only had a modest profit from Skyfall. Despite doing almost as well as Skyfall, Sony’s take was even less from SPECTRE. The various studios trying to cut a deal with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer for Bond 25 know this.

–It has been almost three months since MGM and Eon Productions announced a November 2019 release date for Bond 25: That’d be fine except neither MGM nor Eon actually is in the business of releasing movies. Eon never has distributed films. MGM hasn’t since emerging from bankruptcy in 2010.

Essentially, two parties who don’t release movies said there was a release date.

OK, the 007 film series is established and this may not be a big deal. However…

–Until the distributor is established, Bond 25’s budget won’t be either: It remains to be seen whether Bond 25’s distribution deal is the same as Skyfall and SPECTRE. But it seems pretty evident the Bond 25 distributor will be providing some of the cash to make the movie.

It’s fun speculating whether Denis Villeneuve will be Bond 25’s director, whether director of photography Roger Deakins will return, etc., etc. But until the budget is nailed down, things can only go so far.

Just to be clear, the blog isn’t pushing the panic button. There isn’t information available to push the panic button.

At the same time, legitimate questions ought not to be shooed away simply because they’re inconvenient. Bond 25 has been handled almost from the start in a very peculiar way. The fog isn’t clearing yet.