Nolan tells Playboy he’s still interested in 007

Christopher Nolan

Playboy, in its July/August issue has an interview with director Christopher Nolan. In what is almost an aside, the filmmaker says he’s still interested in James Bond.

The full interview, at least at the moment, isn’t available on Playboy’s website. ACCORDING TO ADWEEK, the interview “will post online in a few weeks.”

However, A VERY SMALL PORTION of the interview has shown up via a posting on one of the message board of the MI6 James Bond website.

The main takeaway is that Nolan says he, indeed, has talked with Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson of Eon Productions at some point in the past. No specifics were offered.

“I’ve spoken to the producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson over the years,” Nolan told Playboy. “I deeply love the character, and I’m always excited to see what they do with it.”

At the same time, Nolan says the 007 film franchise would have to be on shaky ground for him to become involved. The franchise would “need renivention.”

“And they’re getting along very well,” Nolan said.

Some of the the director’s films — including The Dark Knight and Inception — contain homages to 007 movies. Meanwhile, the two Sam Mendes-directed Bond films, Skyfall and SPECTRE, contain influences of Nolan’s three Batman movies.

Nolan’s newest film, Dunkirk, a World War II drama, is coming out later this month.

About that Christopher Nolan directing 007 film thing

Christopher Nolan

Christopher Nolan

There’s been another breakout of “Christopher Nolan directing James Bond fever.”

The subject comes up every so often. It’s well known the London-born Nolan likes James Bond movies. His Batman trilogy (2005-2008) contains references to Bond films. So does 2010’s Inception.

In May 2013, Nolan’s name was briefly mentioned as a possibility for directing Bond 24 (eventually titled SPECTRE) by Baz Bamigboye of the Daily Mail. Nolan’s representatives were supposed to have been approached. But, two months later, the return of Sam Mendes, the director of Skyfall, was announced.

The newest outbreak of Nolan fever occurred Jan. 15 after actor Tom Hardy told the Daily Beast website that it “would be so cool” to play Bond with Nolan directing. Hardy has been in several Nolan-directed movies, including the upcoming Dunkirk.

With all that in mind, here are some observations and a question.

Skyfall was Nolan-lite:  Mendes, during Skyfall’s production, acknowledged The Dark Knight (the second of Nolan’s trilogy) was an inspiration for Skyfall. As a result, there are a number of similarities.

There are two ways to look at this. One, you already have an idea what a Nolan-directed Bond film would be like. Or two, why not have the real thing?

Nolan would work with some familiar faces: For SPECTRE, Eon Productions hired a Nolan director of photography (Hoyte Van Hoytema) and film editor (Lee Smith). Both worked with the director on Dunkirk.

What’s more, veteran Eon special effects man Chris Courbould also was a crew member on Nolan’s Batman films and Inception.

Nolan still would make changes: The director likes to write his own movies. No Bond director has also had a writing credit on the 007 film he helmed. It also seems likely Nolan would want to bring Hans Zimmer aboard as composer. They’ve worked together a number of times, also including Dunkirk.

Logo of Syncopy, Christopher Nolan's production company

Logo of Syncopy, Christopher Nolan’s production company

Does Eon bring Syncopy into the Bond mix? With Nolan, you typically also get the involvement of his production company, Syncopy. Nolan gets a producer’s credit. So does his wife, Emma Thomas.

Bond films traditionally were a producer-driven operation. Since the late 2000s. Eon boss Barbara Broccoli has been more enthused by “auteur” directors (Mendes and Quantum of Solace’s Marc Forster). But would Eon accommodate Nolan’s production company in a Bond film?

Many 007 fans reply something like, “Nolan loves James Bond so of course he will!”

This blog is a little more skeptical of that. At this point, though, there’s not much point in speculation. Bond 25 doesn’t have a director or a confirmed leading man. So we’ll see.

…and the (007) world goes round and round…

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

There’s a scene in The Dark Knight where the Joker performs his “magic pencil trick” and kills a thug by ramming a pencil into his eye. For many James Bond fans, it feels that way over the past week.

Radar Online, an entertainment and gossip site, kicked off the festivities on Sept. 3 with a story saying 1) Daniel Craig had been offered $150 million to do two more James Bond movies by Sony Pictures and 2) that Sony “should be announcing any day that the studio is re-upping the distribution rights for the Bond series.”

The immediate response among some Bond fans on social media was this was GREAT NEWS and Sony would be foolish not to offer the actor such a princely sum. Such fans didn’t want to hear why such an offer wouldn’t make economic sense.

It took a few days, but a number of sites moved to debunk the $150 million offer part of the Radar story, including FORBES.COM, HITFIX.COM and VANITY FAIRWhile those sites went over the $150 million portion, they didn’t reference the second part. Each cited how Sony’s contract to distribute 007 movies ended with SPECTRE, without directly saying how Radar reported Sony (supposedly) had a new deal.

From HitFix: “Will they re-sign with Sony? Unlikely, but possible.” From Forbes.com: “The short (Radar) post makes four references to Sony, a studio that no longer has distribution rights to the 007 films.” From Vanity Fair: “(T)he decision to pay Craig such an astronomical fee would not unilaterally fall to Sony—which spearheaded the wide-release roll-out of the last four Double-0 films—even if the studio re-ups its distribution rights for the franchise, which expired with the release of Spectre.”

Admittedly, Radar waited until the seventh of eight paragraphs to reference how Sony (supposedly) has a new deal. Still, it was part of the story.

Is this post an endorsement of Radar’s story? No way. In our very first post, on the subject, also on Sept. 3, we slapped on the Caveat Emptor tag. That’s even more true now. Radar said Sony “should be announcing any day” it has a new 007 movie distribution deal.

The clock is ticking. If an announcement doesn’t materialize, say, in another week, Radar’s story may officially be dead.

Anyway, on Sept. 10, Radar Online was at it again. Its newest story proclaims actor Tom Hiddleston “could be canned from the James Bond movie he has been gunning for” because of his “split” from Taylor Swift.

Of course, a lot of people were skeptical the two were a legitimate couple in the first place. Regardless, despite being criticized by other news sites, Radar is still at it. The gossip site acts as if it was totally unaware prominent outlets were saying its original 007 story was crap.

Magic pencil trick, indeed.

 

Should 007 and Batman share the same cinema universe?

NOT an actual comic book cover

NOT an actual comic book cover

It was reported this week that Warner Bros. may be in a good position to replaced Sony Pictures as the studio that releases James Bond movies. That got some fans to wonder whether 007 and Batman (and Superman and the Justice League) could share the same cinema universe.

Necessary background: 007’s home studio is Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. But, after emerging from bankruptcy, it’s a relatively small company and cuts deals with other studios to release its films.

Sony Pictures’ current two-picture deal with MGM for Bond expires once SPECTRE is released in November. Sony wants to strike a new deal, but the studio knows it’ll have competition for post-SPECTRE 007 projects.

Variety reported Warner Bros. is a leading contender because its executives have a good relationship with MGM’s top executive, Gary Barber.

Anyway, on THE SPY COMMAND’S FACEBOOK PAGE, a reader asked if Warners really does secure the 007 releasing deal whether Bond could be included in a planned two-part Warner Bros. Justice League movie, even if it’s just a cameo.

For the uninitiated, the Justice League is a group of DC Comics heroes, headed by Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. DC Comics has long been part of Warners’ parent company and the comic book company now is actually part of the studio. Next year’s Batman v. Superman: The Dawn of Justice will help set up the even bigger Justice League project.

It seems like a stretch that Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, the co-bosses of Eon Productions, would go along with such a concept. In AN INTERVIEW WITH COMING SOON.NET, Broccoli and Wilson did not warm up to the idea of Bond sharing a fictional universe with any other character.

Q: The notion of cinematic shared universes are increasingly popular in Hollywood these days. Any chance of seeing the Bond franchise go after something like that?

Broccoli: I think Bond lives in his own universe. I don’t think he wants to share it with anyone else.

Wilson: Like Bond and Mission: Impossible? I think that’s the stuff for comic books. More power to them.

Beyond the Eon leadership, there’s the question of 007 fans.

It’s hard to know how many, but — via Internet message boards and social media outlets — there are a lot of vocal 007 fans critical about “comic book movies.” For these fans, Bond is above that sort of thing. For them, “comic book movies” are glorified cartoons. Except, of course, when director Sam Mendes acknowledged that The Dark Knight, directed by Christopher Nolan, INFLUENCED 2012’s SKYFALL.

Humility is not part of the 007 fan’s DNA. Bond is the best. Any other spy entertainment that has been created since 1962 is merely a “James Bond knockoff.” Bond in the same universe as Batman and Superman, even if it came via a cameo? Untold billions of brain cells around the world would explode.

Meanwhile, a note about the illustration with this post. It APPEARED ON THIS WEBSITE. The actual cover The Brave and The Bold No. 110 LOOKED LIKE THIS.

Goldfinger: the first ‘A-movie’ comic book film?

Goldfinger poster

Goldfinger poster

Here’s a thought as Goldfinger celebrates its 50th anniversary. In a way, the third James Bond film may have been the first “A-movie” comic book film.

Before Goldfinger, comic book films existed as serials. Lewis Wilson, father of Eon Productions co-boss Michael G. Wilson, played Batman in a 1943 serial, for example. Serials would run for weeks in 15-minute or so installments ahead of the main feature.

Goldfinger, of course, was based on Ian Fleming’s novel, not a comic book. Still, some Fleming novels seem to draw their inspiration from pulp adventure stories (also a source of inspiration for comic books).

In Fleming’s novel, Goldfinger’s henchman Oddjob was already over the top. With the film, that increased. A gold bar bounced off his chest without causing Oddjob harm. Harold Sakata’s Oddjob crushed a golf ball to show his displeasure with Sean Connery’s Bond. The henchman used his steel-rimmed hat to kill with precision. Oddjob, for a time in the Fort Knox sequence, bats Bond around like a cat playing wth a mouse.

Nor did the comic book style action end there. Bond’s tricked out Aston Martin became the inspiration for “spy cars,” with far more weaponry that a few extras the novel’s Aston had. The deaths of both Oddjob and later Auric Goldfinger could be described as comic book like. It was as if Jack Kirby of Marvel Comics drew the storyboards.

The difference, of course, was this all occurred in a $3 million A-movie where the audience could see the story all in one night.

Goldfinger’s success certainly was felt in the 007 series. In Thunderball, Bond flew a jet pack and in the climatic underwater fight had an oversized air tank that had additional weapons. You Only Live Twice included a helicopter snatching a car with a giant magnet and Blofeld’s volcano headquarters set that cost more than it took to produce Dr. No.

The success of such movies demonstrated audiences had an appetite for such uber-escapist sequences when executied in an entertaining way. You could make the case that Goldfinger blazed a trail that the likes of Star Wars, Indiana Jones and, yes, movies based directly on comic books, exploited.

The path from Connery’s Bond to, say, Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man may be shorter than it appears.

The most obvious sign: director Christopher Nolan, a self-described 007, adapted Bond bits (the Bond-Q briefing evolved into Bruce Wayne getting new equipment from Lucius Fox) into his three Batman movies. Director Sam Mendes in Skyfall returned the favor, saying Nolan’s 2008 The Dark Knight influenced the 2012 007 film.

Happy 100th birthday, Bill Finger

One of a number of productions that would have been impossible without Bill Finger

One of a number of productions that would have been impossible without Bill Finger

Feb. 8 was the 100th anniversary of the birth of comic book writer Bill Finger, who probably should be credited as the co-creator of Batman. Without him, a number of productions, including 2012’s Skyfall, the most recent James Bond movie, wouldn’t have been possible.

Artist Bob Kane had an idea, of a Bat-themed character. But it was Finger who, among other things, changed a plain mask to a cowl, devised the Bruce Wayne true identity, the Batman back story, the Robin back story, and….well, you get the idea. It was Finger who devised much of the Batman mythos.

Without Finger, there wouldn’t have been Batman serials in the 1940s, no Batman television series in the 1960s, no Batman movies in the 1980s, ’90s and 21st century — at least nothing remotely in the form that people know them.

Indirectly, the 007 film crew also owes Finger a debt. Sam Mendes, the director of Skyfall, is on record as saying 2008’s The Dark Knight, directed by Christopher Nolan, inspired elements of the 2012 007 film. That extends to Thomas Newman’s score, which in places sounds similar to the Batman music Hans Zimmer produced for Nolan.

Thus, without Bill Finger, there’d be no Nolan Batman movies and Skyfall wouldn’t be the same film fans remember today.

Finger, who died in 1974, less than a month before his 60th birthday, still doesn’t get officially credited as creating Batman. (Although there is a campaign to try to change that in time for Batman’s 75th anniversary.) But there’s little doubt Finger’s impact lasts long after his death.

Two questions to pass the time

Ian Fleming

Ian Fleming

The dog days of summer have arrived, so here are a couple of questions to pass the time until actual news pops up later.

Will Ian Fleming get some kind of credit if the U.N.C.L.E. movie gets made?

Ian Fleming’s contributions to the final version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. aren’t that many, but he did co-create the character of Napoleon Solo with producer Norman Felton. Still, the movie is to be made at Warner Bros., which often doesn’t give out credits unless it’s contractually obligated.

For example, since 1989, Warners has made seven Batman movies. Each carries a credit that Batman was created by Bob Kane. But it’s pretty much established that writer Bill Finger contributed at least as much, if not more (changing Batman’s mask to a cowl, the Bruce Wayne secret identity and the Bruce Wayne back story, among other things) to the Batman mythos.

Nor does Warners credit artists and writers who created other characters or stories that figure into the films. One semi-exception was how artist Jerry Robinson, the creator of the Joker, got a consultant credit in 2008’s The Dark Knight (it doesn’t appear until about two hours and 31 minutes into the movie). The 2011 Green Lantern movie didn’t credit John Broome or Gil Kane, who in 1959 that version of the character. The ’59 version, in turn, was based on a different character with similar powers created in 1940 by Bill Finger (him again) and artist Martin Nodell.

On the other hand, citing Ian Fleming might be an interesting talking point for marketing, even though Fleming wasn’t mentioned in the original show. But Fleming’s heirs don’t have a financial incentive because Fleming, under pressure from Bond producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, signed away all his U.N.C.L.E. rights in June 1963.

The odds would appear to be against a Fleming credit in an U.N.C.L.E. film. In 1983, The Return of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. television movie had credits for Norman Felton (“based on the series originally presented by”) and Sam Rolfe (“based upon the series developed by”), the latter who created most of the show’s format.

Will Disney/Marvel blink and move Ant-Man’s 2015 release date? Walt Disney Co. and its Marvel unit were the first to claim the Nov. 6, 2015 release date in the U.S. for Ant Man, the first Marvel film to come out after The Avengers sequel in May 2015. Earlier this month, however, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Sony Pictures said Bond 24 would make its U.S. debut on that date, two weeks after it comes out in the U.K.

Disney doesn’t normally back down but Ant Man isn’t the most famous Marvel character with the general public by a long shot. Does Marvel really want Ant Man to go head-to-head with James Bond? You have to wonder if Disney and Marvel will have second thoughts.