The faith-based James Bond movie

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

That, of course, would be Bond 25, the James Bond film without a distributor, a script, a director or even a confirmed James Bond.

More than 16 months after the release of SPECTRE, much of agent 007’s next film adventure is a matter of faith, not fact.

Example: There’s IndieWire’s March 21 story that proclaims:

For Bond fans wondering what might lure Daniel Craig back for “Bond 25,” it just might be the opportunity for 007 to metaphorically save the world from the Orwellian nightmare of Trump, Putin, Brexit, and WikiLeaks.

At least that’s the hope of long-time Bond scribes Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, who have been hired to write the script for “Bond 25.”

This passage is based on a January interview The Telegraph had with scribes Neal Purvis and Robert Wade. In the interview, Purvis said, “Each time, you’ve got to say something about Bond’s place in the world, which is Britain’s place in the world. But things are moving so quickly now, that becomes tricky.

“With people like (U.S. President Donald) Trump, the Bond villain has become a reality. So when they do another one, it will be interesting to see how they deal with the fact that the world has become a fantasy.”

Since then, the Daily Mail’s Baz Bamigboye reported Purvis and Wade were hired to script Bond 25, their 007th Bond film writing effort.

So, IndieWire takes the leap of faith that Bond 25 will take on Brexit, Trump, etc., and that will entice Daniel Craig to come back for a fifth 007 film.

And as Bond co-producer, Craig would help shape the story by Purvis and Wade. So maybe, like Bond, he just needs a break before returning to active duty, putting on hold any notion of being succeeded by such leading contenders as Tom Hardy, Tom Hiddleston, Michael Fassbender or Jack Huston.

Of course, almost all of this is conjecture. Granted, Bamigboye has a record of scoops concerning Skyfall and SPECTRE that were proven to be correct. But the Daily Mail scribe **has not** described any details of a possible Bond 25 plot.

And Purvis, in his January interview telegraph described *the difficulty* of writing a new 007 film. His comments about Brexit, Trump, etc., were not about anything concerning Bond 25’s story line — which, at best, is in early stages of development.

It shouldn’t be needed, but here’s a note of caution anyway. Weeks ago, Bond fans were going crazy over word that Eon Productions had bought an old helicopter. Surely, the fans thought, it must be for Bond 25.

It wasn’t, as noted by the MI6 James Bond website. It was for a non-007 film project.

That hasn’t stopped fans from speculating. Some still hold out hope that Bond 25 somehow, some way, will come out in 2018.

Still, it bears repeating. Almost everything about Bond 25, at this point, is faith based, not fact based.

Sony passed on chance to buy MGM, WSJ says

Sony Pictures at one time passed on a chance to outright buy Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the home studio of James Bond, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The Journal doesn’t specify exactly when this occurred. But, based on the story by Ben Fritz, it was before MGM reorganized during a 2010 bankruptcy. Here’s the key excerpt:

Sony Pictures executives discussed buying Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, whose James Bond movies Sony had distributed for years. Instead MGM reorganized itself into an independent venture. Other potential acquisitions targets for Sony included DreamWorks Animation and pay-cable network Starz, according to employees. Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. ended up buying the network.

“There was a cautious business philosophy where we did not want to take big swings,” said a former Sony Pictures executive.

The story concerns both Sony Pictures and Paramount described as “Hollywood’s two worst-performing movie studios” by the Journal.

Paramount missed its own opportunity. It initially released movies produced by Marvel Studios. But Walt Disney Co. moved in and bought Marvel.

Sony has released the past four James Bond films, starting with 2006’s Casino Royale. Sony’s most recent two-picture 007 distribution deal expired with SPECTRE. Under that contract, Sony co-financed the films but only got 25 percent of the profits.

The Journal recently reported that MGM’s attempts to sell itself to a Chinese buyer fell apart last year.

Regardless, MGM has no distribution agreement for Bond 25. The studio and Danjaq (parent company of Eon Productions) control the Bond franchise.

More Bond 25 questions after P&W’s return

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

With the apparent return of Neal Purvis and Robert Wade to script Bond 25, naturally there are more questions.

No Bond 25 story yet? After all this time?

According to the Daily Mail’s Baz Bamigboye, Purvis and Wade are the first writers to be hired.

Given Bamigboye’s record with scoops proven correct about Skyfall and SPECTRE, you have to take him seriously.

But the first to be hired 16 months after SPECTRE debuted? We’re not talking a first draft or a treatment (story outline). We’re talking about turning on the old word processor and confronting a blank screen.

By contrast, MGM announced in November 2012 — while Skyfall was still in theaters — that John Logan had been hired to write the next two installments. Eventually, that was changed to one, but the studio wanted everyone to know things were full speed ahead.

Purvis & Wade again? This will be their seventh (or 007th if you like puns) consecutive Bond film effort.

To put that in perspective consider this: Richard Maibaum had 13 Bond writing credits. But his longest streak was five (all 1980s Eon Productions efforts).

Also, the hiring comes less than two months after Purvis told The Telegraph, “I’m just not sure how you would go about writing a James Bond film now.” Evidently, something came up.

To be clear, this blog has not bashed the writing duo. But their hiring for Bond 25 begs the question whether Eon casts a very wide net. Are there really so few writers suitable for the job?

On the other hand, it is a tough job as the likes of John Logan, Paul Haggis, Bruce Feirstein and others have found out over time.

John Logan and Jez Butterworth, who also worked on the last two 007 films (Logan credited both times, Butterworth only once) were brought in by director Same Mendes.

What does this say about when Bond 25 eventually comes out? 

As noted above, Logan was on board to write Bond 24 (later titled SPECTRE) in November 2012. He didn’t submit his first draft until March 2014.

If indeed Purvis and Wade are just getting started, 2019 seems a stronger possibility than 2018. Once a first draft is delivered, months of rewrites usually ensue. If, say, a script is hammered out in early 2018, there’s still casting and numerous other details.

“In any event, no camera will roll on Bond 25 until next autumn at the earliest,” Bamigboye wrote in his story.

And, for now, there’s no confirmed James Bond and no studio to distribute the movie.

MGM sale to Chinese not happening, WSJ says

MGM logo

A sale of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 007’s home studio, to a Chinese buyer isn’t happening, The Wall Street Journal reported.

“Talks broke down between MGM and several Chinese companies late last year, an apparent casualty of China’s move to stanch capital outflows that has stalled the country’s shopping spree in Hollywood, according to people familiar with the matter,” the Journal reported.

“An MGM sale would have been among the biggest-ticket and highest-profile such acquisitions, but its failure to materialize is evidence of a twist ending that few in Hollywood expected,” according to the story by three Journal reporters.

Earlier, the New York Post reported that MGM was in talks with a Chinese buyer it didn’t identify. Both the Journal and Post are owned by News Corp., controlled by Rupert Muchoch.

Uncertainty at MGM would have an adverse effect on the 007 film franchise. MGM has been involved with Bond since it acquired United Artists in 1981. UA, in 1975, acquired half of the franchise after Eon Productions co-founder Harry Saltzman sold out because of financial troubles.

MGM emerged from bankruptcy in 2010 as a smaller company, unable to release its own films. MGM cuts deals with other studios to co-finance and release those movies, including the Bond series.

An MGM spokeswoman told the Journal that the studio wasn’t for sale.

Here’s an excerpt from the Journal story about the broader issues facing Hollywood and China:

The economic-policy changes in China come amid mounting protectionist rhetoric in the U.S. from the administration of President Donald Trump.

“We’ve heard from both [private-equity] firms and investment banks that China investment activity around [Hollywood] assets started to wane just prior to the election and is almost nonexistent now,” said Chris Fenton, a trustee of the U.S.-Asia Institute, which organizes congressional delegations to China, and president of DMG Entertainment, a media company headquartered in Beverly Hills and Beijing.

“No China entity wants to be the first to test” the heated rhetoric on the U.S. side and the capital controls on the Chinese side, he added.

The last four Bond films have actually been released by Sony Pictures. Sony’s most recent two-picture 007 deal expired with 2015’s SPECTRE.

 

Spanish in James Bond movies

Goldfinger poster

Goldfinger poster

By Nicolás Suszczyk, Guest Writer

SMERSH’s dossier on James Bond stipulates he is fluent in three languages: English, French and German.

However in the films, Bond and those he encounters speak a fair amount of Spanish on occasion.

 

From Russia with Love (1963)

The audience hears a few words in Spanish during the SPECTRE training sequence in the pre-title sequence.

As Red Grant terminates the fake 007 during his exercise, a few headlights are turned on and a voice in an unidentified dialect says: “Silencio, cada uno donde está”, which in English means “Silence! Everyone, stay where you are.”

Goldfinger (1964)

In the pre-title sequence of Goldfinger, James Bond breaks into a heroin-making laboratory in Latin America.

After setting up explosive charges over nitro barrels in Ramírez’ lab, Bond goes to a nearby canteen. There, a dancer named Bonita makes up a flamenco step show with people cheering.

The charges explode and as the crowd moves along, Bond talks to a man in English. It’s his contact. He warns 007 not to go back to his hotel and to take the first plane to Miami. He addresses Bond as Señor, not Mister.

Bond disregards the advice and goes to see Bonita. He is attacked by an assailant, whom he terminates with electricity in a “shocking” way. The assailant, played by stuntman Alf Joint, is wrongfully credited in publications as “Capungo” as if it were a name or a surname. In Ian Fleming’s novel, we know capungo is a Mexican slang for “thug” or “hitman.”

The Man With The Golden Gun (1974)

Villain Scaramanga (Christopher Lee) says a single line in Spanish when having lunch with Bond, claiming the death of 007 “mano a mano, face to face” will be all his.

FYEO U.S. Insert

For Your Eyes Only (1981)

This is the first film in the series where 007 speaks in Spanish. Roger Moore has the distinction of being the first Bond to use the language.

007 is sent to Madrid to capture and interrogate Héctor González, a Cuban hitman responsible of the death of Timothy and Iona Havelock. While spying on the González estate, Bond is captured. The agent escapes after a diversion caused by Melina, the daughter of the late Havelocks, when she shots a bolt into González’ back.

As Bond and Melina escape, we hear some words: “¡Vamos, que no se puede escapar!” (Come on, we can’t let him escape). Later, 007 and the girl try to find a way out while driving Melina’s Citroen 2 CV.

The car flips down while taking a low road and some of the natives try to help the couple. As the henchmen of González try to reach them in their more powerful Mercedes Benz, Bond asks the citizens to help them push the car: “Por favor, ¡empujen!”

Safe in his hotel, Bond reserves a flight back to London and thanks in Spanish: “Muchas gracias.”

octopussy

Octopussy (1983)

Spanish is much heard during the first ten minutes of the film, when 007 infiltrates an air base in an unknown Latin American country (probably Cuba) to sabotage a missile. We hear trough the radio phones one Colonel Alvarado is performing an equestrian show.

Bianca, a Latin American agent, helps 007 don his disguise (fake moustache included): Colonel Luis Toro. A detail to note is that the prop department wrongfully abbreviated the word “Colonel” in English (Col. Toro) when it should have used the Spanish abbreviation (Cnel. Toro).

Moore makes a good use of his double entendrés with Toro’s surname: “Toro? Sounds like a load of bull” (The English for toro is “bull”).

Bond –- posing as Toro -– infiltrates the compound and greets one of the officers working on the missile. “Coronel,” the man says.  007 replies “Continúe” (Carry on) before knocking the man unconscious and getting discovered by the real Toro.

“Interrogación”, the military orders for the impostor to be arrested and interrogated. One of the officers complies while replying: “Sí, Coronel. Métanlo al camion” (Yes, Colonel. Get him on the truck).

007 escapes with the aid of Bianca’s seductive skills and, before taking a leap on the Acrostar jet for the definitive runaway, he thanks her with a “gracias, querida” (Thank you, darling).

Licence to Kill's poster

Licence to Kill’s poster

Licence to Kill (1989)

Given the film had major locations shot in Mexico, Spanish is present in the last film with Timothy Dalton as 007.

Bond himself only uses the language by addressing the villain as “Señor Sánchez” and by translating to Leiter the villain’s statement: “Plomo o Plata” (literally translated as “Lead or Silver”).

The villain played by Robert Davi uses a handful of Spanish words: “No te preocupes” (Don’t worry) to his girlfriend Lupe before whipping her; “amigo” (friend) to Krest and Bond); and even a mouthful: “¡Este hijo de p*ta!” (son of a bitch) before shooting the dead body of double agent Kwang, who killed himself with cyanide to avoid capture.

So does Lupe Lamora –often addressed as señorita instead of Miss– mixing words in Spanish with English phrases: “You loco” and “You borracho” (loco: crazy, borracho: drunk) to Bond and Krest.

Milton Krest, one of Sànchez’ associates, says a “muy bien” (all right) while searching for Bond as he escapes his troops. We can notice Anthony Zerbe’s voice is dubbed.

More of the language is heard when Bond and Pam (Carey Lowell) arrive at Isthmus City, when a radio is playing a populist narration claiming the benefits for the people given by the president (a puppet of Sánchez): “Beneficios para el pueblo con Héctor López, su Presidente”.

The World Is Not Enough (1999)

The film begins in Bilbao, Spain, while visiting a corrupt banker, Lachaise. The mission for Pierce Brosnan’s Bond is to recover Sir Robert King’s money and extract information on who eliminated a fellow agent.

Bond fights Lachaise’s thugs and manages to escape from the Spanish police trough the office window. We hear officers speculating about the crime scene and shouting warinings: “Creo que son dos o tres, están armados… se oyeron cinco disparos y una explosión… ¡Abra la puerta, Policía!” (I think there were two or three, they’re armed. We heard five shots and an explosion. Police! Open the door!).

007 calmly escapes and, as he walks through the streets close to the Guggenheim, museum, one of Lachaise’s guards is caught: “¡Quieto ahí! Levanta las manos!” (Stay right there! Hands up!).

DADposter

Die Another Day (2002)

Bond (Brosnan) visits Cuba to eliminate assassin Zao. His first stop in Havanna is Raoul’s tobacco factory, where he asks for Delectados, a kind of cigars not made anymore.

“Raoul, aquí hay un tipo que busca delectados, de Universal Exports” (Raoul, there’s a guy asking for delectados, from Universal Exports), an old man notifies via telephone. Delectados were used as an understanding code between the agents.

In the tobacco factory, a man is reading the newspaper aloud to the employees, an article about the selling of lenses and recording cameras.

As Bond and Raoul talk about Zao, he calms down the tense looking old man, holding a gun to protect his boss, given the case: “Bueno, ¡pero relájate, hombre!”

Strangely, Raoul is a French name and the Spanish version of that name should have been “Raúl.”

Enjoying a bit of the Cuban culture, Brosnan makes use of his Spanish knowledge as James Bond: “Un mojito, por favor”, he asks ordering the famous Cuban drink.

To gain access to the Álvarez Clinic in Los Órganos, where Zao a patient for DNA makeover therapy, he knocks down a grumpy patient, carries him unconscious in a wheelchair and uses his papers to transport him. Before he does, he greets the prostitute: “Buenos días” (Good morning). Then, he delivers his papers to a boat transbord agent, calling him señor, and as the man grants him permission Bond replies “gracias”.

International poster for Quantum of Solace

International poster for Quantum of Solace

Quantum of Solace (2008)

The 22nd film in the series is set in Latin American locations, with Panama and Chile doubling for Bolivia.

For the first time, Spanish was an important language in a Bond film and not restricted to a few words. The Spanish dialogue was so important that in most countries it was subtitled.

In Haití, Camille greets General Medrano. Before capturing her, the military, responsible for the death of her parents, tells her: “Conocí a su familia, tristemente, creo que fui el último que los vio vivos” (I met your family. Sadly, I think I was the last one who saw them alive).

As Bond (Daniel Craig) rescues Camille, the general will throw orders in Spanish: “¡Síganlos!” (Follow them!).

Following the lead to villain Dominic Greene, Bond visits La Paz with Mathis, returning to the series after Casino Royale.

Upon reaching the city, they’re joined by Fields, a British agent sent to return Bond to London but who ends up joining the quest.

Stationed in Bolivia for almost a decade, Mathis is a friend of the Police Colonel, Carlos, whom he calls as a chatterbox taxi driver complains of the poor state of the country: “Calentamiento global… llueve mucho o no llueve nada” (Global warmth, it either rains or it never rains) and of the high taxes. Mathis continuously shushes him: “Cállate, ya, ¡chito!

When Bond checks into the luxurious Grand Andean Hotel, Craig says, “Hola, somos maestros en año sabático, y nos ganamos la lotería” (We’re teachers on sabbatical, and we have just won the lottery).

The concierge replies, “Felicidades, señor. ¿Les puedo ayudar en algo?” (Congratulations. How can I help you?). The voice of the concierge was dubbed by noted Mexican director Guillermo del Toro.

There are some mistakes in the subtitles added to the film: when 007 approaches a villager asking for the DC-3 plane to escape with Camille, the man rudely asks: “Buenos días, ¡¿Qué es lo que quiere?!” Subtitled as the polite “How can I help you?”, it should have been translated as the more literal “What do you want?” given the rudeness of the voice tone of the man.

Another Mexican director, Alfonso Cuarón, provided the voice for the radio guiding the Bolivian jet planes sent by Greene to hunt Bond and Camille, with the first phrase being “Objetivo eliminado” (Target terminated).

Something rather funny happens near the end of the film, when General Medrano and the Chief of Police have a chat on the Perla de las Dunas hotel.

Both characters are Bolivian, yet Medrano is played by a Mexican actor (Joaquín Cosio) and Carlos, the Colonel is played by a Spaniard actor (Fernando Guillén Cuervo).

The different dialects show up, and there’s yet another mistake in the subtitles.

Complaining by the noise made by the fuel cells to give electricity to the complex, the Colonel says: “Maldito quebradero de cabeza, la verdad”. Subtitled as “Pain in the ass, really”, the more literal “This sound wrecks my head” would have been more appropriate.

Daniel Craig in SPECTRE's main titles

Daniel Craig in SPECTRE’s main titles

SPECTRE (2015)

The movie begins in Mexico City during the Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebration. Bond (Craig) is seen, in disguise, with a girl called Estrella, who in the hotel elevator mutters him some words in Spanish to his ears – presumably “te deseo” (I desire you) is logical since she kisses him as they both reach the room.

Not much more is heard except for the melody sang aloud by the attendants: “Los muertos vivos están, siento ya su poder, vengan todos aquí, este día llegará” (The dead are alive, I can feel their power. Let’s get all together, this day will arrive).

At around the half of the film, the SPECTRE agents are reunited in Rome to discuss the job in hand after the death of Sciarra in Bond’s hands. One of Blofeld’s assistants claims the next duty for Sciarra was the assassination of Mr. White, and offers the assignment to a Spaniard member known as Guerra.

Guerra, played by Benito Sagredo, complies by showing his loyalty to the organization in his own language: “Por supuesto. Mi lealtad a esta organización es absoluta. La protegeré hasta mi último aliento. No habrán más… aficionados. No veremos más muestras de debilidad” (“Of course. My loyalty to this organization is total. I will protect it with my last breath. There will be no more… amateurs. No more shows of weakness”).

 

Bond 25: Why MGM has to get bigger or sell out

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

For the James Bond film franchise, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer is a millstone.

MGM is not big enough to compete with other major studios by itself. Since a 2010 bankruptcy, the home studio of 007 films has needed studio partners to distribute and market Bond movies.

For the past two Bond films, 2012’s Skyfall and 2015’s SPECTRE, MGM negotiated a sweet deal with Sony Pictures. Sony co-financed the movie but only got 25 percent of the profits. Sony ended up in third in line behind MGM and Eon Productions for the 007 spoils.

But good fortune like that only lasts so long.

The Sony deal expired with Skyfall. “There’s no rush,” MGM CEO Gary Barber said of reaching a new Bond distribution deal with Sony or another studio. “We’re evaluating all of our options. We will advise on the deal when we actually make it.”

MGM logo

That was eleven months ago. No hurry, indeed.

In reality, other studios — Sony, Warner Bros. and Paramount among them — have their own issues.

Sony’s parent company wrote down the value of its movie business by almost $1 billion, an indication that things aren’t going well. Warner Bros.’s parent company, Time Warner, is in the midst of an $85 billion acquisition by AT&T. Also, Warner Bros. is struggling with its “extended universe” of movies based on DC Comics characters. Paramount is struggling, period.

Under those circumstances, cutting a deal with MGM to distribute Bond movies might not be the top priority. Even more stable studios, such as 20th Century Fox and Universal, probably want a better deal than Sony got for Skyfall and SPECTRE.

These days, MGM mostly makes television shows while producing a few movies.

Bond, however, remains MGM’s biggest property, going back to when MGM acquired United Artists in 1981. 007, which not that long ago had his first $1 billion box office movie (Skyfall), is a major league property, or at least can be.

For that promise to be fulfilled, however, Bond needs to be at a major league studio.

MGM isn’t that. It hasn’t been for a long time.

To be a big-time studio, MGM needs to be able to release its own movies and be in more control of its destiny.

It’s fine to cut deals with other companies for financing (other studios do). Ultimately, however, Bond’s home studio needs the ability to distribute the movies.

MGM’s Barber wants the company to sell stock to the public in the next three to five years. Maybe it can become big enough to be a real studio again.

But if it can’t, the 007 franchise will suffer. From the selfish standpoint of Bond film fans, a better option might be for MGM to sell to a studio that has big league status.

Our rants about Bond 25

James Bond, feeling sad after examining his back story one more time.

James Bond, feeling sad, yet again.

Bond isn’t at the same level as other film franchises: You’ve bought an old helicopter. And we should care, why?

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie in 2015 acquired a lot of old cars. More than three years after filming began, it didn’t really matter in the movie’s ultimate success (or lack thereof), did it? Buying vehicles and props is, at the end of the day, a minor enterprise.

Real film franchises have studios that distribute them. Bond doesn’t have one.

The most recent 007 film, SPECTRE, came out in the fall of 2015. Sony Pictures released the last four Bond movies. SPECTRE concluded Sony’s most recent two-picture contract.

If Bond were a fantastically profitable film franchise, other studios would be beating down the doors of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 007’s home studio. But MGM hasn’t yet reached a new deal.

Of course, Sony got taken with the last two films (Skyfall and SPECTRE), providing 50 percent of the financing but only 25 percent of the profits. That might, just might, be a factor in MGM’s delays in finding a new studio partner.

Meanwhile, real film franchises actually seek publicity. Marvel Studios releases two movies a year. But it successfully gets publicity year round. Ditto for Warner Bros.’ DC Comics film universe, despite the fact it’s not as successful as Marvel.

The Bond franchise is more like the Kremlin. I know, Ian Fleming would spin in his grave at that reference.

Seriously, though, there are parallels. Both provide little tiny bits of news that require the knowledge of long-time followers to interpret. Why else, do you suppose, there has been so much attention to the purchase of a helicopter?

Carry on.