About that whole ‘true’ Bond fan thing

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Recently, I’ve seen some posts on social media bringing up the issue of who is a “true” James Bond fan.

I suspect the recent posts were spurred by the poll of Americans last month performed by Morning Consult on behalf of The Hollywood Reporter. It dealt with opinions about 007 films.

Some Bond fans complained, saying only people who are knowledgeable about 007 should be polled.

The Morning Consult poll appeared to be trying to come up with a statistically representative sampling of Americans. In that regard, it was similar to a political poll. Such polls talk to everyone from hard-core political junkies, to those who couldn’t spell “president” and everything in between.

Anyway, if you were to do a poll of “true” James Bond fans, how do you define that?

Should only those who’ve seen every Eon Productions 007 movies be considered? If so, how many times? Five? 10? 15? More?

How about only those who’ve seen the Eon series plus the two non-Eon 007 films? All of the above plus the 1954 CBS adaptation of Casino Royale?

How about all of the above plus those who’ve read the Ian Fleming original novels and short stories? Or should the continuation novels and short stories also be part of the definition?

I brought this up on Twitter this week and got a lot of feedback. Some of it, I suspect was tongue in cheek. Some of it, maybe not.

Regardless, this isn’t the first time the subject will come up. It’s unlikely to be the last.

However, the more germane issue is how James Bond — despite many interpretations over the decades — still is popular with the general population, not just hard-core fans.

In that regard, he’s similar to Batman, a character who has been around even longer. (Batman debuted in 1939 compared with Bond’s arrival in 1953.) You’ve had the Dark Knight. You’ve the Bright Knight. And everything in between.

That kind of longevity should be something that 007 fans — “true” fans or casual fans — ought to be able to celebrate in unison.

007 poll shows the devil is in the details

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Earlier this month, the Morning Consult and the Hollywood Reporter conducted a poll of almost 2,100 Americans about James Bond films. Here are two greatly different headlines summarizing the results.

Morning Consult’s report: “007 Poll Shows Scant Support for Diversifying Bonds.”

The Express, U.K. tabloid: “James Bond: Most Americans support a black 007 – Idris Elba BACKED to replace Daniel Craig.”

They’re both right but you have to dig into the data to see why.

According to Morning Consult, 51 percent of adult respondents said “the James Bond series was a classic and nothing about it should be changed, a 17-percentage-point edge over those who said they’d prefer to see the film adapt to the times and have a more diverse cast and lead.”

However, those polled were then asked additional groups about different groups and individuals.

Among groups, 52 percent of adults said they support the idea of a black James Bond, with 20 percent having no opinion and 29 percent opposing.

Also, 39 percent support a Hispanic Bond, 37 percent support an Asian Bond, 37 percent supported a female Bond and 28 percent support a gay Bond.

Meanwhile, when asked specifically about Idris Elba, 63 percent said  they wanted to see him play Bond, with only 21 percent opposed.

Meanwhile, Morning Consult had more details about how respondents feel about agent 007.

Nearly three-quarters (74 percent) of the adults polled said they’d at least watched some of the series. And with a net favorability of 62 points, only “Back to the Future” (74 points) and “Indiana Jones” (72 points) were more popular among films made before the 1990s. (“Toy Story” was the most popular movie franchise out of 34 series tested, while “Back to the Future” was second.)

The poll also tackled the issue of who is the most popular actor to play Bond in the Eon Productions series.

Most popular 007 film and Bond actor among Americans polled: Goldfinger and Sean Connery. 

Sean Connery was No. 1 at 82 percent, with Pierce Brosnan right behind at 81 percent. Roger Moore, who made 007 entries in the Eon series, was No. 3 at 74 percent, followed by current Bond Daniel Craig at 71 percent. The least popular Bond actors were Timothy Dalton at 49 percent and George Lazenby at 31 percent.

There’s also the question of favorite 007 films of Americans. Morning Consult again sued a “net favorability” number. On that basis, the top five were: Goldfinger (plus 69), From Russia With Love (plus 66), Live And Let Die (plus 66), Diamonds Are Forever (plus 65) and For Your Eyes Only (plus 64).

The highest Daniel Craig 007 film was his debut, Casino Royale, at No. 6 (plus 63), tied with You Only Live Twice.

The bottom? The Living Daylights, Dalton’s debut, (plus 48). SPECTRE, the most recent 007 film, was next at plus 49.

THR: Annapurna’s ills may affect Bond 25 U.S. distribution

Annapurna logo

Financial problems at Annapurna Pictures may affect the U.S. distribution of Bond 25, The Hollywood Reporter said as part of a broader look at the company.

As things currently stand, a joint venture between Annapurna and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer will release Bond 25 in the U.S. in February 2020 while Universal will distribute the movie in international markets.

Bond 25 is “the jewel in the crown” for the Annapurna-MGM joint venture, wrote THR’s Kim Masters. “If Annapurna falters, that film is likely to be released by Universal, which is handling overseas distribution. (MGM might also make a play to distribute domestically itself.)”

The joint venture was set up last year. It distributes movies for each partner. Movies that originate with Annapurna carry that brand. Movies generated by MGM, such as Bond 25, carry MGM’s Leo the Lion logo.

The THR story mostly is about cutbacks in film production at Annapurna, headed by Megan Ellison, daughter of tech magnate Larry Ellison.

“(T)he company’s operations now are being reviewed by an executive (with experience in business, but not in Hollywood) dispatched by Ellison’s father,” Masters wrote.

The story quotes a person with knowledge of the situation that it didn’t identify as saying this about Annapurna: “Larry respects money and wants it to be run in a more responsible way.”

Annapurna has exited some movies it commissioned, including a project about the late Fox News chief Roger Ailes.

“We are simply recalibrating so that our creative decisions are fully aligned with our business goals,” Annapurna said in a statement to THR.

Idris Elba: The 2018 007 wave

Idris Elba

UPDATE (4:50 p.m., New York time): The Hollywood Reporter quotes a representative for Fuqua as saying the supposed conversation with Barbara Broccoli never happened and the Daily Star story was “all made up stuff.”

Justin Kroll, a writer for Variety, had the following:

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

ORIGINAL POST (tweaked to incorporate Fuqua’s denial): Three years ago, the blog said the Idris Elba/James Bond “debate doesn’t appear to be going away soon.” Talk about an understatement.

It’s 2018 and this week the idea of Elba playing 007 was trending all over social media. It began a story in the Daily Star. The tabloid’s article said director Antoine Fuqua “chatted to Barbara (Brocccoli) about who will take over from Daniel Craig, 50, if he hangs up his gun after the next Bond film, due next year.”

Antoine, 52, revealed Barbara feels “it is time” for an ethnic minority actor to star as 007 and she is certain “it will happen eventually”.

He added: “Idris could do it if he was in shape. You need a guy with physically strong presence. Idris has that.”

There was no indication the Daily Star reached out to Eon for comment (and now we know why).

Back in December, Broccoli said the following in a Hollywood Reporter podcast.

Question: Would you ever hire a person of color or a woman to play James Bond one day?

Broccoli: Anything is possible. Right now, it’s Daniel Craig and I’m very happy with Daniel Craig.

Meanwhile, the Fuqua quote got cited in summaries produced by CNN.com (which asked Eon for comment), People, and Esquire. Almost immediately there after (but before Fuqua’s denial), fans debates ensued. Temperatures up in a thread on The Spy Command’s Facebook page.

Like the movie groundhog day, many of the same comments uttered before were stated again.

–Bond is white/it’s political correctness run amok/it’d be like casting a white guy as John Shaft. Of course, people of color have seen the opposite (“whitewashing”) occur for many decades. White guys (Olivier Welles) playing Othello, white guys playing Asians (like Mickey Rooney’s less-than-subtle performance in 1961’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s) or Dr. No (Joseph Wiseman in the title role, who was half Chinese, half German.

–Read the books! Where Bond has a scar down his cheek and Felix Leiter (played by two different black actors in a combined three movies, including two made by Eon) was a Texan with straw-colored hair.

–Elba is too old to play James Bond. Elba turns 46 on Sept. 6. Of course, last month saw the debut of Mission: Impossible-Fallout starring 56-year-old, age-defying, skydiving Tom Cruise.

–Elba is too old to spend a decade playing 007. The traditional expectation is a new Bond actor will be at it for about a decade. However, the hiatus between 007 films is growing. Eon will barely make three 007 movies in the 2010s, assuming Bond 25 meets its scheduled fall 2019 release date.

Assuming Eon doesn’t sell itself, will it mount, say, only two Bond films in the 2020s? Is the “Bond actor spends a decade in the role” model up for reappraisal? Could future Bond actors do one-offs?

Not that any of this is going to change minds. But it looks like this latest wave — goofy tabloid stories and all — is as strong as previous ones.

About Whishaw’s ‘confirmation’ he’ll be in Bond 25

Publicity still of Ben Whishaw with Daniel Craig in Skyfall

Over the past several days, the blog has noted a number of stories saying that Ben Whishaw has confirmed he’ll be in Bond 25.

The various stories cite a May 17 story in The Hollywood Reporter.

Here are the key quotes from the original THR story:

One film franchise looking more certain is James Bond, in which Whishaw has played the character Q since 2012’s Skyfall. Danny Boyle looks set to direct the next, the 25th, 007 offering, although Whishaw admitted he hadn’t spoken to him about the as-yet-untitled project

“Nothing yet. But I think it’s not happening until the end of the year, so I have no idea. I know as much as you do!,” he said. “I believe I’m contracted to be in it. That’s as much as I know.”

But he said he was enthused that Boyle was the choice as the next director. “I was thrilled when I read that he was going to be doing it,” he said. “I can’t think of a better, more exciting director for Daniel [Craig], for the way that he’s taken the character. I think it’ll be really exciting to work with him. I’ve been such a big fan.” (emphasis added)

With that in mind, here how that’s been played up.

A Very English Scandal star Ben Whishaw confirms return to James Bond franchise (The Independent)

Ben Whishaw Confirms He Will Return as Q in Bond 25 (Esquire.com)

Another James Bond Actor Who Is Probably Returning for Bond 25 (Cinema Blend)

Of the three, only the headline writer for Cinema Blend showed any kind of restraint to reflect Whishaw’s less-than-definitive comments. Truth be told, the blog would be greatly surprised if Whishaw wasn’t in a fifth Daniel Craig 007 film. But Whshaw wasn’t exactly confirming his participation in the project.

Craig to receive $25M for Bond 25, Variety says

Daniel Craig

Daniel Craig is set to receive $25 million for Bond 25, Variety reported as part of a survey of salaries for major actors.

The story, by Brent Lang and Justin Kroll, doesn’t specify how the information was obtained. Craig’s $25 million was the highest actor figure referenced. Dwayne Johnson is due to receive $22 million for Red Notice (2020) and Vin Diesel received $20 million for 2017’s The Fate of the Furious, Variety said.

Anne Hathaway is set to receive $15 million for 2020’s Barbie while Jennifer Lawrence got a $15 million pay day for this year’s Red Sparrow.

The bulk of the article concerns trends in pay for movie stars.

“Studios have gotten stingier about cutting stars in on a share of the profits from big-budget movies, preferring to keep much of the spoils of a box office blockbuster for themselves,” Lang and Kroll wrote.

“Part of the problem is that costumed superheroes and Jedi knights became the big attraction at movie theaters,” according to the writers. “The size of a film’s opening weekend no longer hinges on the popularity of the actors who grace its poster. Special effects are the stars these days and the place where studios are spending the bulk of their money.”

Variety said while some actors can still get $20 million or more for a movie, “those checks are usually handed out for only major franchise installments and often are tied to reaching a significant number of box office milestones.”

In 2007, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer said Craig was signed for four more 007 films after his debut in Casino Royale, according to an account at that time by The Hollywood Reporter. If true, that would mean Craig’s contract extended through Bond 25 all along.

About that Bond 25 release date

“This is an old friend of mine. And it tells me…something smells!”

During the past week, there’s been a buzz that the pregnancy of Rachel Weisz, the wife of Daniel Craig, may push back the November 2019 release date of Bond 25.

As Keim Bey would say: “This is an old friend of mine. And he tells me something smells!”

This latest notion began when Weisz, 48, gave an interview to Marueen Dowd of The New York Times that went online April 20.  The actress revealed she was pregnant. From the Times story;

“I’ll be showing soon,” she says, with a radiant smile.

On April 26, The Sun weighed in with a story that Bond 25’s U.S. release date of November 2019 might be pushed back because of the pregnancy.

A film source said: “Pushing back the schedules suits all parties.

“Daniel (Craig) can concentrate on matters at home with Rachel, which are pretty life-changing, to say the least.”

Let us count the ways this smells:

–The Bond 25 release date was announced in July 2017 before a distributor was in place.

–It’s not unheard for women in their late 40s to utilize the services of fertility specialists to become pregnant. We don’t know that happened in this case. But it’s rare for women in their late 40s to suddenly become pregnant.

–Daniel Craig announced in August 2017 he would return for another James Bond film. At the very least, he and Weisz may have already been trying to have a child.

That said, there are other reasons why Bond 25’s release date could be pushed back.

–Danny Boyle became a late contender to direct Bond 25. Whether that happens depends on whether a story idea Boyle and writer John Hodge gets approved for the film.

–A non-007 spy project being made by Eon Productions, The Rhythm Section, has been delayed because of an injury to star Blake Lively.

–Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 007’s home studio, reportedly is trying to sell itself, according to an April 4 story by The Hollywood Reporter. One of MGM’s selling points, according to the report, is the studio’s film rights to 007.

Put another way, there are multiple reasons to suspect Bond 25’s release date could be pushed back.

The pregnancy angle is not the most convincing. Weisz’s due date would be before Bond 25 begins filming (end of the year is the earliest estimate).  Meanwhile, MGM hasn’t been a stable studio for decades.

It’s more likely that a Bond 25 delay would be related to MGM than Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz welcoming an addition to the family.