Zimmer associate Balfe to score M:I 7-8

Tom Cruise

Lorne Balfe, one of Hans Zimmer’s group of Remote Control composers, will score Mission: Impossible 7 and 8, Film Music Reporter said.

The website cited the newest episode of the Light the Fuse podcast.

Balfe scored 2018’s Mission: Impossible-Fallout, the most recent M:I film starring and produced by Tom Cruise.

Balfe is one of more than 60 composers affiliated with Zimmer’s Remote Control company.

Another Remote Control composer is Steve Mazzaaro, who scored the non-Bond spy film The Rhythm Section produced by Eon Productions. On The Rhythm Section, Zimmer got the lead music credit for producing the music while Mazzaro had the secondary credit position for actually writing the music.

Mazzaro is assistant composer on No Time to Die, the 25th James Bond film where Zimmer is lead composer.

From the producers of The Rhythm Section…

Eon Productions logo

Eon Productions is getting involved in another non-Bond spy movie.

Here’s an excerpt from a story by the Deadline: Hollywood website.

The upcoming EFM just got a shot in the arm with the launch of Gerard Butler action-thriller Remote Control from Hyde Park, STX, G-Base and James Bond producers Eon.

STX will distribute in the U.S. and launch international sales this week in Berlin on the movie which will follow Michael Rafter (Butler), a former war correspondent turned corporate security consultant, whose life is overturned when he receives a mysterious phone call from an unknown source.

Eon’s Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson will be executive producers on the movie. “Ashok Amritraj will produce through Hyde Park Entertainment Group alongside Butler and Alan Siegel through their G-Base Entertainment banner,” according to Deadline.

Eon’s most recent attempt at a non-Bond espionage film, The Rhythm Section, flopped. It grossed $5.4 million in the U.S., $434,400 in the U.K. and $5,419 in Asia as of today, according to Box Office Mojo. The movie had a production budget of $50 million.

Remote Control, like The Rhythm Section, is based on a novel by Mark Burnell. Burnell did the screenplay for both projects. Remote Control is to be directed by John Mathieson, an experienced cinematographer.

Bond 25 questions: The Rhythm Section/Super Bowl edition

Daniel Craig/James Bond character poster

Separate events over the weekend — the debut of a non-Bond Eon film and a Super Bowl spot for No Time to Die — have generated some questions at the blog.

Are these events related?

Yes, in one respect.

The Rhythm Section and No Time to Die will have music from the same group.

The music credit for The Rhythm Section says the score was “produced by” Hans Zimmer while the music was by Steve Mazzaro, a composer affiliated with Zimmer’s Remote Control Productions.

After the No Time to Die commercial aired on the Super Bowl, Zimmer put out a tweet that said, the spot “doesn’t have my music (still working on it with my friend Steve Mazzaro!) but you’ll hear what we come up with soon.”

So, Zimmer is working with Mazzaro on No Time to Die. Meanwhile, Mazzaro’s score for The Rhythm Section sounds very much like the Zimmer-credited scores for Christopher Nolan’s Batman films. BROOOOOOMMMMM!

Are you saying No Time to Die’s score will sound like that?

Not necessarily. But the Mazzaro (channeling Zimmer) score for The Rhythm Section didn’t break new ground. We’ll have to see what the duo come up with for No Time to Die.

What was new in the Super Bowl spot?

Actually, quite a lot. There were a few shots that appeared in the trailer released in December. But there was new material, including Daniel Craig’s James Bond and Lashana Lynch in an unusual aircraft.

That plane looked similar (but larger) compared with the mini jet seen in the pre-titles sequence in 1983’s Octopussy. The idea originally was in the first draft script of Moonraker where Bond and Holly Goodhead flew his and her mini jets.

What happened with The Rhythm Section’s box office?

The Paramount-released movie was not just a flop. It was a historic flop. It had the lowest box office (not adjusted for inflation) of any movie opening with more than 3,000 screens. The Rhythm Section broke a 14-year record in that regard.

Deadline: Hollywood published a story over the weekend about various things that went wrong, including test screenings that went over badly, financing issues and behind-the-scenes disagreements.

Movies with more problems have been hits. If Deadline is to be believed, there was a lot of bad luck involved for The Rhythm Section. Regardless, the numbers are the numbers. Numbers can be very unforgiving.

The Rhythm Section flops at box office

A poster for The Rhythm Section

The Rhythm Section, the non-Bond spy film made by Eon Productions, flopped at the U.S. box office.

The film will generate an estimated $2.8 million for the Jan. 31-Feb. 2 weekend, according to data compiled by Box Office Mojo.

The Paramount-released movie was being shown at 3,049 screens for an average of $918 per screen. It was the No. 10 film at the box office for the weekend, according to Box Office Mojo.

The Rhythm Section’s box office performance was the worst ever for a film opening on more than 3,000 screens, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The record had been held by 2006’s Hoot, which had a $3.4 million opening weekend, THR said.

The film features Blake Lively as a woman who discovers the plane crash that killed her family was really a terrorist act. She moves to avenge the killings with the assistance of a former MI6 agent (Jude Law).

The Rhythm Section originally was slated for an early 2019 release. However, a hand injury to Lively caused a production delay. The movie then was scheduled for a fall 2019 release before coming out this weekend instead.

Also this weekend, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s latest movie, Gretel & Hansel, was No. 4 with $6.05 million in its debut. The movie was marketed under MGM’s Orion brand. MGM is the home studio for Eon’s James Bond film series.

The top movie at the box office this weekend was Bad Boys for Life, with almost $17.7 million in its third weekend.

UPDATE (2 p.m. New York time): Deadline: Hollywood has published a story about what went wrong with The Rhythm Section. The entertainment outlet says the movie may lose $30 million to $40 million. The Rhythm Section had a budget of $50 million.

“Currently, I hear that the overseas launch for Rhythm Section is up in the air, with the studio pondering a direct to video title for Rhythm Section abroad after the dismal stateside results,” wrote Deadline’s Anthony D’Alessandro.

UPDATE II (Feb. 4): Final weekend figure for The Rhythm Section was $2.7 million (average of $890 per screen at 3,049 screens), according to Box Office Mojo.

REVIEW: The Rhythm Section (2020)

A poster for The Rhythm Section

With The Rhythm Section, Eon Productions wanted to show what it could do with the spy genre without James Bond.

In terms of craftsmanship, it’s a respectable effort. The photography is good. The actors give it their all. Director Reed Morano shows off multiple locations. The movie also runs less than two hours, almost a rarity these days.

But when it comes to connecting with the audience, not so much.

Blake Lively’s lead character, Stephanie Patrick, has lost her family after an aircraft crash. She has fallen apart, becoming a drug-addicted prostitute.

Patrick finds out the truth and becomes an avenging angel, diving deep into the world of international espionage and terrorism. She goes after one of her targets by pretending to be a prostitute.

The point is to show a diamond in the rough and what she had to accomplish. Stephanie Patrick is more Jason Bourne than James Bond, and a not very confident (at least at first) Bourne figure at that.

By the end of the film, Patrick has become the new Bourne. She evens things out. She’s ready for new adventures by the end of the movie.

Still, it’d be better if there were more audience investment in Patrick’s story.

Some of Eon’s Bond mainstays show up behind the camera. Chris Corbould, a long-time special effects wizard for the Bond series, is present as second unit director, for example.

Hans Zimmer did not do the score. But he gets the first music credit for producing the score. Steve Mazzaro, one of the composers affiliated with Zimmer’s Remote Control Productions, gets the actual “music by” credit.

Nevertheless, parts of the movie’s score resembles Zimmer’s work on Christopher Nolan-directed movies. Zimmer has been announced as composer for No Time to Die, Eon’s newest Bond film.

An anecdote: I was the third person to buy a ticket at my theater for the first showing of The Rhythm Section on Thursday night. One of the two people who bought tickets before me stopped as the end titles were playing.

“It wasn’t so good, was it?” she said.

Not so much. GRADE: C.

The Rhythm Section off to a slow start with critics

A poster for The Rhythm Section

The Rhythm Section, the non-Bond spy movie from Eon Productions, is off to a slow start with critics.

The movie’s score at the Rotten Tomatoes website was at 41 percent based on 34 reviews early Wednesday evening. The movie comes out Friday, with early showings Thursday night.

What follows are non-spoiler excerpts from a few reviews.

RICHARD ROEPER, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: “Despite a game performance by (star Blake) Lively, ‘The Rhythm Section’ is a junk pile of missteps, from the convoluted screenplay that hops from locale to locale in Advil-inducing fashion to the overly stylized directing.”

PETER DEBRUGE, VARIETY: “From the very first scene, audiences should realize that they’re watching a very different type of character. In many ways, (Blake Lively’s Stephanie Patrick is) even less like ‘Atomic Blonde,’ in which Charlize Theron’s meticulously choreographed, unerringly lethal fighting style is fun to watch but pure fantasy…This isn’t an easy role, but Lively aces it.”

PETER BRADSHAW, THE GUARDIAN: “The movie is an interesting mix of Le Carré/Ludlum locations, invoked with jittery, paranoid urgency…The rapport between (Jude) Law and Lively allows the movie both to relax and pick up the pace. (Director Reed) Morano puts together good fight scenes, robust stunt work and tasty car chases. It’s destined to be viewed on a million long-haul flights, but it works perfectly well as a thriller.”

WILLIAM BIBBLANI, THE WRAP: “You know you’ve got a problem when someone in your movie calls the protagonist ‘a cliché’ and there’s no counterargument, ever, at any point in the film…It hardly feels like a story. It’s as though a vague structure somehow got a mind of its own and wandered into cinemas without supervision.”

Eon’s non-Bond spy film to get a box office test

A poster for The Rhythm Section

In the next week, a non-James Bond spy film made by Eon Productions will be tested by the global box office.

The Rhythm Section, starring Blake Lively, will be released by Paramount (Jan. 31 in the U.S.)

Since the early 1980s, the James Bond film series has been part of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s film portfolio. MGM acquired United Artists, Bond’s original studio home, and has been involved in the Bond film franchise ever since.

Eon has been diversifying from Bond for a number of years. It has made small, indie-style movies such as The Silent Storm (2014), Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool (2017) and Nancy (2018).

The Rhythm Section represents a more commercial project. Once upon a time, Eon wanted to do a movie featuring Halle Berry’s Jinx character from Die Another Day (2002). But that never took place.

The Rhythm Section has had some bad luck. Blake Lively suffered a hand injury, which caused production delays. The movie originally was to have been released in early 2019. It was pushed back to the fall of 2019 and now to the end of January 2020.

Eon’s Barbara Broccoli gave an interview to the Daily Mail’s Baz Bamigboye. While Eon is preparing to release the 25th Bond movie in April, Broccoli indicated she’s still thinking a lot about The Rhythm Section.

‘Why should women have to play men’s roles?’ Broccoli asked when I met her and Morano for tea at the Piccadilly mansion that’s the headquarters of the Eon Productions empire she runs with stepbrother Michael G. Wilson.

For the record, Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson are half-siblings (same mother, Dana Broccoli, different fathers).

Regardless, we’ll soon see how The Rhythm Section performs with audiences. I have seen a number of ads for the movie on new outlets such as ads on YouTube and Twitter. We’ll see.

One NTTD question we have no answer for

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Occasionally, the blog has “question edition” posts about Bond 25/No Time to Die. Usually, the blog provides some evidence of the answers. For this post, we can only guess.

Why is there an Eon Productions logo in the trailer for The Rhythm Section but not for No Time to Die?

Probably language in contracts. But your guess is as good as mine.

The Rhythm Section trailer has logos for Paramount (studio that’s releasing the movie), Global Road (major co-financing entity) and Eon (company that made the movie).

No Time to Die’s trailer has logos for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (Bond’s home studio) and Universal (handling international distribution). Not mentioned is United Artists Releasing, the joint venture between MGM and Annapurna Pictures.

United Artists Releasing is performing distribution duties for No Time to Die in the United States.  It is referenced in the first poster for the movie, down toward the bottom.

MGM and Annpurna formed the joint venture to perform U.S. distribution of each other’s movies. MGM movies would have the MGM logo, Annapurna films would have the Annapurna logo. The joint venture was announced in the fall of 2017. The United Artists Releasing name was announced on the 100th anniversary of the formation of United Artists in early 2019.

The Rhythm Section: Clues for NTTD’s score?

No Time to Die teaser poster

We still don’t know about how No Time To Die’s score will turn out. But it’s perhaps worth a look at another spy adventure being produced by Eon Productions.

The Rhythm Section is scheduled to be released by Paramount at the end of January.

According to the movie’s IMDB.com entry, the composer will be Steve Mazzaro. He is among more than 60 composers affiliated with Hans Zimmer’s Remote Control Productions company.

The Rhythm Section’s music credits also include Zimmer as “executive music producer” and Lorne Balfe as providing “additional music.” Balfe is another Zimmer-affiliated composer who also did the score for Mission: Impossible-Fallout.

Eon previously said Dan Romer, who worked with NTTD director Cary Fukunaga on some projects, was going to score the 25th James Bond film.

Romer apparently has departed the project. But that hasn’t been confirmed by Eon.

Some Bond fan sites have said Zimmer’s Remote Control company may be involved with No Time To Die. Regardless, Zimmer’s company is involved with Eon’s The Rhythm Section.

We’ll see if all this turns out to be a factor for No Time to Die.

Broccoli says Eon resisting doing Bond spinoffs

Barbara Broccoli, boss of Eon Productions

Eon Productions chief Barbara Broccoli says in a recent magazine story that the production company has been pressured to make James Bond spinoffs but is resisting such a move.

“We’ve been under a lot of pressure to make spinoffs,” Broccoli told Total Film, whose 2020 movie preview issue went on sale this month.

“Bond is Bond, she added. “We want to make these theatrical films. We want to make them one at a time, and create an anticipation for them, and deliver films of a very high standard.”

Broccoli didn’t specify where the pressure was coming from. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Danjaq (Eon’s parent company) share custody of Bond.

Marvel Studios, which has produced more than 20 inter-connected movies since 2008 is branching into TV series for the Disney + streaming service.

The entire Total Film article is not online but scans of it are showing up on internet bulletin boards. There is a preview of the story online.

Eon has avoided planning long story arcs. Quantum of Solace was always intended to be a “direct” sequel to Casino Royale. But Skyfall director Sam Mendes said at a 2011 news conference that his movie wasn’t tied to the two earlier Daniel Craig films.

Then, with SPECTRE, the filmmakers did a “retcon,” making Skyfall connected to Casino and Quantum after all. Skyfall villain Silva became part of SPECTRE/Quantum after the fact. Now, all four are connected to the upcoming No Time to Die.

In the 2000s, Eon developed a proposed Bond spinoff movie featuring Jinx, the character played by Halle Berry in Die Another Day. Nothing came of the project.

Meanwhile, Eon has stepped up its production of non-Bond movies, including the upcoming The Rhythm Section being released by Paramount in January.