Aston Martin confirms B25 lineup; Prince Charles visits

Publicity still for Aston Martin Valhalla

Aston Martin announced on Twitter that three of its cars, including the new Valhalla supercar, will be in Bond 25.

Aston Martin DB5, Aston Martin V8 and Aston Martin Valhalla will star in Bond 25, the latest instalment in the @007 franchise,” the company said in a post on Twitter.

The post confirmed a story earlier this week at This Is Money, part of the Daily Mail, that the cars would be in the film. Andy Palmer, the CEO of Aston Martin, had retweeted a Twitter post from Ray Massey who had written the This Is Money story. 

The DB5 isn’t much of a surprise. James Bond and Madeline Swann drove off in the DB5 at the end of SPECTRE. The 1980s vintage V8 had been spotted during filming in Norway.

However, in March, the Sun tabloid reported that the Aston Martin Raptide E electric car would be in the movie. That story was picked up widely by other outlets.

Instead, the film is getting the Valhalla. It was described in an Aston Martin press release this week as being “propelled by a combination of high-efficiency, high-output turbocharged V6 petrol engine and battery-electric hybrid system.”

For the announcement, Aston Martin had a photo of Prince Charles and 007 actor Daniel Craig. The latter is no longer wearing a cast after suffering an injury earlier during Bond 25 filming.

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UPDATE (1:40 p.m. New York time): The Daily Mail had a ringside seat and produced a story about Prince Charles’s visit to Pinewood Studios to meet the Bond 25 cast and director Cary Fukunaga.

UPDATE II (1:55 p.m. New York time): The Royal Family Channel posts a video of the visit of Prince Charles to Pinewood

Bond 25 director denies Sun story about video games

Cary Fukunaga, Bond 25’s director

Bond 25’s director, Cary Fukunaga, today denied a report by the tabloid Sun newspaper that he caused a delay in shooting by playing video games.

“There’s not a minute on this job that isn’t scheduled,” Fukunaga wrote in an Instagram post.

“So sure it’s hard, but it’s still the best job in the world and I’d never disrespect the hardest working cast and crew,” he wrote. “We’re all in this together.”

The post didn’t specifically mention The Sun. On Monday, the tabloid had a story saying Fukunaga was late for filming “due to his particularly intense video games session.”

“A large number of crew were waiting on location when he eventually turned up three hours after his anticipated arrival time,” the tabloid said. The paper also claimed crew members refused overtime to make up for the delay.

British tabloids typically swarm over 007 films during production. The Rupert Murdoch-owned Sun has been particularly aggressive with Bond 25.

The paper, for example, reported about the June 4 explosion at Pinewood Studios that resulted in some damage to the 007 Stage and a minor injury for a crew member. Eon Productions confirmed the explosion on social media.

The Sun has run multiple stories since, even referring to Bond 25 as “doomed” in the story on Monday.

Bond 25 questions: The British tabloids edition

Eon’s Bond 25 logo

It has been about six weeks since principal photography on Bond 25 began. Of all the media outlets out there, Rupert Murdoch’s tabloid The Sun seems to be driving the media conversation.

Six months ago, even three months ago, that didn’t appear to be the case. With that in mind, here are some questions from the blog.

The Sun? Really? 

During pre-production and production of Skyfall and SPECTRE, the Daily Mail, via Baz Bamigboye, was the go-to tabloid.

Yes, Bamigboye’s stories had the smell of clickbait. But many of his stories were confirmed. Examples: Albert Finney was part of Skyfall’s cast. Yes, Neal Purvis and Robert Wade were summoned to rewrite SPECTRE. Yes, Purvis and Wade were hired to start the Bond 25 scripting process.

As a result, over time, Bamigboye had to be taken seriously even if the Daily Mail had a well-deserved reputation for bad journalism.

But, for some reason, The Sun has been driving much of the Bond 25 storyline. The Sun came out with a story about the June 4 explosion at the 007 Stage at Pinewood Studios. That spurred Eon Productions to quickly get out a statement.

The Sun’s latest story came out June 9. The Murdoch tabloid declared actor Rami Malek “has other filming commitments which will have started by the time” Daniel Craig is ready to resume filming following an injury.

With the tabloids, caution always is called for. Still, The Sun and its scribes have been more active than Bamigboye.

Here’s an excerpt from the newest story from The Sun. Caveat Emptor.

A Bond insider said: “Filming was supposed to finish in September but the cast and crew have been told it’s been pushed back to late October, possible early November due to Daniel’s injury and the set explosion.

“But they still need to find a time for Daniel and Rami to film together.”

How serious should a Bond fan take The Sun? 

Take it with a lot of caution.

The Sun has been out of the gate in declaring Bond 25 “cursed.” In its most recent story, The Sun amped things up by calling Bond 25 “doomed.”

Whoa! That’s way, way too strong a term. Even if you think The Sun has good sources, that’s overplaying your hand.

What’s more, tabloids are famous for taking shortcuts (to put it mildly).

What happens now?

Take it easy. Don’t assume things are doomed or cursed. (A curse is a man-made construct to explain various events.)

At the same time, keep an eye on how things are going. Film productions experience setbacks. Some turn out well (Jaws). Some not so much (Heaven’s Gate). Regardless, there’s no point in jumping to conclusions.

Eon confirms Craig injury, ankle surgery

Daniel Craig in Skyfall.

Eon Productions, via its Instagram account, confirmed that Daniel Craig suffered an ankle injury and will undergo surgery.

Here’s the text that accompanied the post:

BOND 25 update: Daniel Craig will be undergoing minor ankle surgery resulting from an injury sustained during filming in Jamaica. Production will continue whilst Craig is rehabilitating for two weeks post-surgery. The film remains on track for the same release date in April 2020.

Craig’s injury was reported on May 13 by The Sun tabloid in the U.K. The story was widely picked up but other outlets hadn’t confirmed the news themselves. The Sun on May 14 said the injury wasn’t as bad as initially thought.

Why it may be time for Eon to modernize its P.R.

Eon Productions logo

You are making a major action-adventure film. Your star injures himself. What do you do?

If you’re making Mission: Impossible-Fallout, you get ahead of the story. Your writer-director Christopher McQuarrie gives an interview to Empire magazine to explain how things are under control even though star Tom Cruise broke his ankle.

Confirming that Cruise had broken his right ankle, McQuarrie assured Empire that his star remained in good shape, in spite of his injury. “Tom is great,” McQuarrie said. “He’s in very good spirits.”

Meanwhile, if you’re Eon Productions and your star, Daniel Craig, has suffered (apparently) a lesser injury, you stay quiet.

This week, The Sun, Rupert Murdoch’s U.K. tabloid, ran a story about how Craig hurt his ankle during Bond 25 filming. Other outlets summarized The Sun’s story, including Variety.

Throughout all this, there was no word from Eon, which has produced the 007 film series since 1962.

Finally, after about 24 hours, The Sun produced a follow-up story saying Craig’s injury wasn’t that bad and he’ll be back at work in a week or so.

Still, for that 24 hour period, others were dictating the Bond 25 story line to the general public.

The thing is, this is par for the course. Eon has a history of denying things that are true such as Ben Whishaw being cast as Q, Naomie Harris being cast as Moneypenny, John Logan being hired to write Bond 24 and 25 (before things changed), Christoph Waltz being cast as Blofeld and so on and so forth.

For that matter, Eon spun a fairy tale in the 1970s that Roger Moore was always the first choice (rather than Sean Connery) to play Bond. For that matter, in the 1980s, Eon’s principals said with a straight face that Pierce Brosnan had never been signed to play Bond and Timothy Dalton was always its first choice to succeed Roger Moore as 007.

We’re now almost one-fifth into the 21st century. Things change. What worked in the past, doesn’t necessarily work now.

You need a communications strategy where your viewpoint is made clear and plain at all times. If you’re making a movie that costs more than $200 million, you can’t be passive.

Truth be told, a big chunk of the 007 fan base acts as if this is still 1965 and Bond is the biggest thing on the planet. There are times that Eon appears to believe the same thing.

Whatever you believe, you can’t be passive in an age where social media helps shape the perception of your product. For one 24-hour period this week, Bond fans genuinely were wondering what was going on.

With silence from Eon, the notion that Craig suffered an injury serious enough to affect Bond 25 filming began to take hold.

This particular dust-up already is fading. But it still points to the need for a more pro-active public relations approach.

Bond 25 questions: The script edition

Phoebe Waller-Bridge

Bond 25 filming is underway. Work has wrapped up in Jamaica. Things should be moving along nicely, right?

Not according to tabloid newspapers, specifically The Sun and Daily Mail in the U.K. and the New York Post in the U.S. And a lot of the hubbub has to do with the film’s script.

Naturally, the blog has a few questions.

Is there really “no script”?

From the time the first draft is submitted, there’s a script. The question is whether there’s a script everyone is happy with.

Still, at any time, there’s a document that exceeds 100 pages and says “The End” at the end. The first draft is replaced by a second draft and so on and so forth.

Nevertheless, the tabloids say differently. The Post in an April 25 story quotes a person it didn’t identify as saying, “They don’t have a script.”

The Sun in an April 26 story said “there is no script.”

Not to be outdone, the Daily Mail began a May 9 story thusly: “The joke on the Bond 25 set is the script’s under wraps. And the response is: ‘What script?’” The story said the story is being rewritten “endlessly.”

So what’s really going on?

Clearly, a number of writers have worked on the project at one time or another. Among them: the team of Neal Purvis and Robert Wade; John Hodge when Danny Boyle was attached as director; and Scott Z. Burns and Phoebe Waller-Bridge since Cary Fukunaga (who also writes scripts) replaced Boyle.

In the past week, Waller-Bridge has gotten a lot of attention. She’s both a performer and writer and worked on various high-profile projects.

Waller-Bridge was interviewed on The Hollywood Reporter’s Awards Chatter podcast. That mostly concerned her career generally but included a few minutes about Bond 25 at the end. She was also the subject of a separate Daily Mail feature story.

In both instances, Waller-Bridge made it sound as if Bond 25’s scripting is under control.

“We have a script and we’re continuing to work on it, all of us floating ideas around and creating characters together,” she said in the Daily Mail story.

Anything else catch your eye?

The Daily Mail’s May 9 story about the “endless” rewriting of Bond 25’s script said it was being revised by Waller-Bridge, director Fukunaga and star Daniel Craig.

Back in 2011, Craig said how he and director Marc Forster supposedly rewrote Quantum of Solace on the set. “A writer I am not,” Craig said then.

If the Daily Mail is correct (something I am not assuming), did Craig change his mind?

Is there context we should keep in mind?

At various times in the 57-year history of the 007 film franchise, there’s been frantic rewriting: From Russia With Love, The Spy Who Loved Me and Tomorrow Never Dies come to mind. Things turned out well at the end.

Still, past performance isn’t a guarantee of future success. You can’t take success for granted.

That’s something to keep in mind. But not something to lose sleep over, at least not at this stage in the proceedings.

UPDATE: A Japanese outlet, Cinema Today, posted a story dated May 12 but is based on an April interview with Eon’s Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson. According to a translation, the duo say that director Cary Fukunaga recruited Scott Z. Burns as a writer while they brought in Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Wilson said work on the script “struggled for a while” but they have a story “with a lot of twists and surprises.”

Bond 25: Murdoch’s tabloids strike back

Rupert Murdoch, whose News Corp. owns tabloids The Sun (U.K.) and New York Post (U.S.)

Tabloid papers belonging to News Corp., run by Rupert Murdoch, a possible inspiration for the media mogul in Tomorrow Never Dies, have weighed in with dire depictions about Bond 25.

What’s more, one of their targets is Bond 25 star Daniel Craig, making his fifth film as Bond.

To be sure, Bond films have always gotten lots of attention from tabloids. Nevertheless, two Murdoch tabloids — The Sun in the U.K. and the New York Post in the U.S. — have published stories with a common theme. Namely, according to the Murdoch publications, all is not well behind the scenes with Bond 25.

On April 25, the same day as the Bond 25 media event in Jamaica, the Post’s Page Six gossip operation runs a story headlined, “There’s already trouble in paradise on new James Bond set.”

A sample of the prose:

A source close to Bond 25 said, “They don’t have a script, there’s no title, it is nearly five years since the last Bond. It starts with a retired Bond living in wedded bliss, but the rest of the script is still being worked over. They rolled out the cast this week at Ian Fleming’s villa in Jamaica because if they wait much longer Daniel Craig, who is 51, will be too old, and then he really won’t do the film.”

As Jack Benny used to say: “Well!” The story also said there would be cameos by Grace Jones (who played May Day in A View to a Kill) and Christoph Waltz, who played Blofeld in SPECTRE.

Not to be outdone, The Sun publishes a story on April 26 with the headline, “James Bond 25 chaos as Daniel Craig is given creative control amid fears he wants spy to be PC.”

Among other things in the story:

Bond head honcho Barbara Broccoli, 58, and makers E-on (sic) Productions were desperate for Craig to make a U-turn.

So they handed him a £18.4million pay cheque and complete creative control, meaning he has a say on casting, scripts, locations, costumes, technical team — and even the role of director.

(snip)
A Bond insider said: “The move has got people’s backs up. Some are expecting constant arguments, as whatever Craig wants, he gets.”

If Jack Benny were still with us, he’d be saying “Well!” a lot.

Not to be outdone, the Post came back with another a column today headlined, “How whiney Daniel Craig killed James Bond.”

Another sample:

Since Craig first donned the spy’s tuxedo in 2006’s “Casino Royale,” the franchise has turned increasingly homogeneous, dreary and frankly skippable. The granddaddy of super-spy films is now one of the most mediocre action series out there — and Craig is largely to blame for it.

(snip)
During his reign, 007 has become a bitter curmudgeon who jets ‘round the world pouting and going rogue in seemingly every film. Huh, kinda sounds like Craig himself.

Yikes! Is this a coordinated assault by the House of Murdoch? Or does Murdoch’s News Corp. simply employ a lot of like-minded people?

Oh well. We’ll see how it goes. Principal photography on Bond 25 is scheduled to begin Sunday, April 28, in Jamaica.