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:

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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.

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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.

Bond 25 questions: Release date edition

Daniel Craig

An announcement by Universal and a line in a Variety story have stirred the pot, getting fans concerned — or at least wondering — about Bond 25’s release date.

The announcement was made by Universal that it planned to release a Danny Boyle-directed comedy/musical in September 2019. That’s two months before Bond 25’s current release date of November 2019.

The line in the Variety story: ” MGM announced last summer that it would open Bond 25 on Nov. 8, 2019, but it’s unlikely to do so.”

So, let the questions begin.

How likely is Bond 25 to be delayed? Variety didn’t specify. In fact, it didn’t indicate whether that line was based on hard reporting or a simple assertion.

Meanwhile (while I was writing this very post), the MI6 James Bond website put out this tweet about the Variety story:

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That sounds like an endorsement of what Variety said. But Variety wasn’t the model of transparency with its readers. And there’s ways to be more transparent while not identifying specific sources.

Is there something else? Fans have mostly overlooked how Bond 25 doesn’t have a distributor.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer hasn’t had a distribution operation since emerging from bankruptcy in 2010. Sony Pictures’s most recent two-picture 007 distribution deal ended with SPECTRE.

MGM took a step last year to getting back into distribution by forming a joint venture with Annapurna Pictures to distribute each other’s movies in the U.S. But Bond 25 wasn’t part of the deal.

Deadline: Hollywood reported in November that the MGM-Annapurna joint venture had just about wrapped up U.S. distribution for Bond 25. But no announcement ever came. The Hollywood Reporter said April 4 that the distribution deal had been held up as MGM seeks to sell itself.

Under the most recent MGM-Sony deal, the two studios split the production costs while MGM kept 75 percent of the profits.

Unless MGM either sells itself or grows itself into a bigger entity, getting a distributor deal is vital to financing Bond 25.

Put another way, until you finance the movie, you can’t make the movie. There’s been an element of uncertainty surrounding Bond 25 all along. The November 2019 release date may have been built on a foundation of sand since it was first announced.

Boyle’s musical (comedy?) gets September 2019 release

Danny Boyle

Director Danny Boyle’s “other” movie has been given a Sept. 13, 2019, release by Universal, The Hollywood Reporter said, citing an announcement by the studio.

The project has been described at times as a musical, although the THR story called it a comedy. The writer attached is Richard Curtis.

Boyle also has said he will direct Bond 25, which currently has a November 2019 release, despite the lack of a distributor.

Boyle’s participating depends on whether a script by Boyle collaborator John Hodge is accepted for the 007 project.

THR said it “could prove challenging to promote two films debuting so close together. However, there is speculation that the Bond pic may move to another date, since MGM is still figuring out who is going to handle it internationally.”

Interestingly, THR itself reported on April 4 that even the U.S. distribution wasn’t settled because Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer was seeking a buyer and trying to use its James Bond rights as a selling point.

THR didn’t specify who was doing the speculating about Bond 25. We’ll see what happens.

UPDATE (April 17): Variety had its own story about the Universal announcement. It had this passage: ” MGM announced last summer that it would open Bond 25 on Nov. 8, 2019, but it’s unlikely to do so.”

Bond 25: The distributor edition (aka TOLDJA)

Bond 25: Still in search of a distributor

Remember all the posts this blog had when it kept asking why there wasn’t a distributor yet for Bond 25? And how some readers felt it was overkill?

Except, apparently, it wasn’t. The Hollywood Reporter on April 4 reported that Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer hasn’t yet selected either a U.S. or international distributor. According to the entertainment news outlet, MGM may be setting itself up for a sale and its 007 film rights are a big part of the marketing.

MGM and Eon Productions said back on July 24, 2017, that Bond 25 would have a U.S. release date of Nov. 8, 2019. The blog asked that day, “Who’s going to distribute Bond 25? The blog either asked the question again or discussed the issue on Aug. 29, Oct. 6 and Oct. 20.

As a 007 fan wrote to the blog on Twitter: “I think you need to chill about the distributor. It’s going to happen don’t you think.”

Separately, some fans participating on 007 message boards felt it was all lined up, it was merely a well-kept secret. After all, the thinking went, there’s no way they’d announce a release date without a distributor lined up.

Except, apparently, MGM and Eon did just that. Perhaps it was to call dibs on the November 2019 date. It doesn’t really matter. The announcement went out without having secured a way for the movie to make it to theaters. That was the case then. It’s still the case now apparently.

Almost a year ago, The New York Times reported how five studios were trying to cut a deal with MGM to distribute Bond 25.  Since then, the parent company of one of the contenders, 20th Century Fox, agreed to sell that studio to Walt Disney Co.

Another, Annapurna Pictures, formed a joint venture with MGM to distribute each other’s movies in the U.S. However, Bond 25 wasn’t part of the deal.

Deadline: Hollywood reported in November, in a story labeled “EXCLUSIVE,” that the MGM-Annapurna joint venture was “thisclose” to getting the Bond 25 U.S. distribution deal. Some outlets have subsequently written as if it were a done deal.

Except, apparently, it wasn’t.

Neither the Times nor Deadline ever felt a need to revisit their previous stories. It wasn’t until this week when The Hollywood Reporter finally got around to it. It would seem if something is “thisclose” to happening but it hasn’t occurred months later, it might be time to make new inquiries.