Bond 25: What’s being talked about, what isn’t

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

In sports, there’s the season and the “off-season,” where some players retire, others change teams, etc. For fans of the James Bond films, this “off-season” is a little off kilter.

What’s mostly being talked about is who the next 007 is going to be — even though the incumbent (Daniel Craig) hasn’t actually said if he’s done with the role or not.

Last week, Tom Hiddleston was the center of attention after the actor said he’d like the role if he got the chance. This week, Irish actor Aidan Turner is in the spotlight after THE SUN RAN A STORY that Turner “has jetted to LA where he is holding talks about becoming the next James Bond.”

The story is a bit lacking in detail. Evidently, he’s far from a sure thing because Turner “will have fierce competition from Brit stars including Tom Hiddleston, Idris Elba and Tom Hardy.”

There’s also a quote from an unidentified source: “Aidan has held preliminary talks with Bond producers and being in LA will give him a further chance to discuss the role.” The preliminary talks reference is interesting but it sounds like the source doesn’t know whether or not Turner will actually have talks with Bond people in LA or not. He just has “a further chance” to talk about it. Regardless, other media outlets picked up on the Sun’s story.

Meanwhile, something people aren’t talking much about is what studio will actually release Bond 25 whenever it does come out.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which controls half the Bond franchise, is too small to release movies. The contract of Sony Pictures, which has released the last four Bond films, expires once SPECTRE is out of theaters (it’s still on 16 U.S. screens this week). It was thought a new deal — with either Sony or somebody else — would be struck early in 2016.

It is still early, but the year’s first quarter is nearing an end.

Sony’s most recent two-picture deal was a bad one for the studio — it financed half of Skyfall and SPECTRE, but only got a quarter of the profits. The Sony executive who struck that deal, Amy Pascal, is gone. Other studios are interested but would they agree to the kind of terms Sony provided?

Hard to say, but for now it’s not a subject getting that much attention.

Caveat Emptor: U.K. tabloid weighs in on Craig AGAIN

Daniel Craig in SPECTRE's main titles

Daniel Craig in SPECTRE’s main titles

Once more, with feeling.

The U.K. tabloid, The Sun, HAS A STORY saying that Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer is willing to push back Bond 25 to 2018 to keep Daniel Craig as James Bond.

It was The Sun that less than a week ago asserted that Craig was quitting the 007 role. As originally phrased, The Sun said:  “DANIEL Craig is quitting as James Bond after signing up for a US TV series. He will star in Purity, which is set to run for several series of 20 episodes each.”

THAT STORY was later softened to say, “DANIEL Craig has signed up for a US TV series, throwing his future as James Bond into doubt. He will star in Purity, which is set to run for several series of 20 episodes each.” However, you can tell the story’s original emphasis by its URL that ends with Daniel-Craig-quits-James-Bond-007-role-for-US-telly-series.html.

In this newest story, The Sun has this passage:

Bond franchise bosses are so desperate to keep him in the famous tuxedo that they are willing to delay the next movie so he can film the show first.

MGM Studios, which produces the Bond flicks, told Daniel it will push back the next movie to 2018 if necessary.

A source said: “Daniel leaving the franchise at this moment is something MGM cannot stomach. (emphasis added)

Why the Caveat Emptor label should apply.

–The Sun said Craig’s possible participation in the television project is “throwing his future as James Bond into doubt.” No, The Sun’s original story saying he was definitely quitting is what attracted the attention. Other U.K. tabloids did stories, citing The Sun’s original version of its first story.

–Things were already looking doubtful for Bond 25 coming out in 2017. Craig is committed to an off-Broadway production of Othello this year.

The exact dates haven’t been announced. But with both Skyfall and SPECTRE, principal photography began late in the years before their release dates (November 2011 for Skyfall, December 2014 for SPECTRE).

Also, Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, the co-bosses of Eon Productions, previously have not sounded enthusiastic about bringing out 007 on an every-other-year schedule.

–As stated before, nothing much can happen on Bond 25 until MGM selects a studio partner for Bond 25. The contract of Sony, which has released the past four 007 films, expires with SPECTRE.

MGM, slimmed down after a 2010 bankruptcy, doesn’t have the capability of releasing movies on its own. MGM has to either re-up with Sony or find a replacement. Bond 25 can’t get a release date until there’s somebody to actually release the movie.

Caveat Emptor: U.K. tabloids write about Craig’s future

SPECTRE poster

Daniel Craig in a SPECTRE poster

Two U.K. tabloids have come out with stories saying that Daniel Craig is quitting the role of James Bond. But the content in both is lacking.

The catalyst was the news REPORTED BY VARIETY that Craig is to star in a limited, made-for-cable-television series based on the Jonathan Franzen novel Purity. The story focused on negotiations with various U.S. cable television networks.

Enter THE SUN which said, “DANIEL Craig is quitting as James Bond after signing up for a US TV series. He will star in Purity, which is set to run for several series of 20 episodes each.”

The problem: The Sun doesn’t say how it learned this news. There’s no attribution (such as “people familiar with the actor’s decision” or similar phrasing). The Sun simply asserts it.

The Sun adds the tidbit that Craig will play “charismatic German Andreas Wolf, who offers to help US woman Purity find her father.” Again, no attribution.

Next up: THE DAILY MAIL’S WEBSITE, which says Craig “reportedly” has stepped down. That’s because the Mail’s story doesn’t have its own reporting, but cites The Sun.

In the past, the Mail has had scoops (mostly reported by entertainment scribe Baz Bamigboye) about Bond movies that turned out to be true. Bamigboye, though, has been off the 007 beat for some time. And this time out, the Mail is only summarizing The Sun’s story.

As a result, the Caveat Emptor label applies until something more definitive emerges.

UPDATE (11:20 a.m. NY time): A story in DIGITAL SPY says Craig’s “representatives have denied the story….his rep has said that no decision has been made,.” The name(s) of the representative(s) aren’t disclosed nor is the method (e-mail? telephone interview? personal interview?) of how the denial was made.

UPDATE II (11:40 a.m. NY time): Meanwhile THE INDEPENDENT is running a story with a headline that says Craig “reportedly” is quitting Bond but adds this: “UPDATE: The Independent has learnt that a decision on whether Craig will return as Bond has not been reached, but if he does appear in Purity it does not necessarily mean he will not be back to play Bond.”

UPDATE III (11:50 a.m. NY time): The BBC is now into the act. (CLICK HERE and scroll down to 07:25. Here’s the main text:

“Daniel Craig’s representative has told the BBC that there is no truth to news reports claiming he has decided to leave the James Bond series.

“According to The Sun and other newspapers, the 47-year-old is quitting the franchise after signing up for a US TV series.

“According to his rep, though, no decision has been made on whether he’ll stay or go.”

Still no details on how the message was communicated.

 

Caveat Emptor: Tabloid writes of new effort to keep Craig

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Another day, another British tabloid report of 007’s film future. This time, THE SUN is reporting Daniel Craig will be offered the chance to film Bond 25 and Bond 26 at the same time.

The tabloid quotes “a film insider” as saying Craig’s concerns with continuing as Bond is “the amount of time it takes to shoot as he’s away from his family. They hope this way the filming will be shorter.”

Also, according to the story, Bond 25 would end with a cliffhanger.

Here’s why the blog is applying the Caveat Emptor label.

–Originally Bond 24 (later titled SPECTRE) and Bond 25 were supposed to be a two-picture story. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer announced in November 2012 that John Logan had been hired to write both. However, before that announcement, CRAIG WAS QUOTED IN OCTOBER 2012 as saying, ““It’s impossible to do a two parter…We can only do them one at a time, they take six months to shoot.”

The two part plan for Bond 24 and Bond 25 was later jettisoned to entice Skyfall director Sam Mendes to return.

Anyway, as it relates to The Sun’s story, if Craig didn’t like the idea of filming a two parter before, why would it appeal to him this time? SPECTRE was a seven-month shoot. Marvel Studios plans a nine-month shoot for a two-part avengers movie coming out in 2018 and 2019.

A Bond movie relies on its leading actor more than an ensemble project like the Avengers. While nine months (or 10, or whatever) would be a shorter time for *two* movies, it also means doing twice the action sequences, etc. Craig suffered a knee injury during SPECTRE’s filming.

–The Sun, over the past two movies, has had some 007 scoops, but not major ones. For example, IN 2011, The Sun said Craig’s Bond would have a beard in Skyfall. It was more like a lot of stubble, but OK, we’ll give them that one. But the major scoops proven to be true for that film and SPECTRE were reported elsewhere.

The king of British tabloid reporters for Bond scoops used to be Baz Bamigboye, but he hasn’t been on the 007 beat for over a year.

Bond 24: nature abhors a (media) vacuum

Ralph Fiennes

Ralph Fiennes

Nature abhors a vaccum, the old saying goes. So it is with Bond 24 — a movie still more than two years away. People are anxious for something, anything about it. Actor Ralph Fiennes presents a case study.

It began with A PRESS ASSOCIATION STORY CARRIED ON THE YAHOO MOVIES WEB SITE. That story quoted Fiennes in this passage:

The Harry Potter actor has been named as the next person to take on the role of M, after Dame Judi Dench’s character was killed at the end of Skyfall.

Asked about playing the famous part, Ralph said: “I think everyone knows that, I don’t think that’s particularly a secret.

“I’m looking forward to it very much.”

Pretty innocuous stuff, eh? A U.K. media outlet called Metro DID ITS OWN STORY citing Yahoo Movies for the quotes.

The Metro piece added this line at the end: “The next Bond film, to be directed by Sam Mendes, will reportedly be based on Sebastian Faulks’ 2008 novel Devil May Care.” There was a link to a JULY METRO STORY that in turn cited the U.K. Sun newspaper as the source.

Back in July, John Cox of the Book Bond Web site, which deals with Ian Fleming Publications on a regular basis ran A POST that included this line:

While it isn’t IFP’s policy to respond to rumors, I can confirm for you that this “scoop” by The Sun is complete and utter rubbish. Bond 24 is NOT based on Devil May Care.

Thanks to Metro, however, Bond fans are discussing this on the Internet all over again.

Skyfall and spoilers

“NOOO! It’s a SPOILER!”

No spoilers in the text. But there are in the links. So if you don’t want to know, don’t click.

On Oct. 21, The Sun newspaper in the U.K. had a Skyfall spoiler. The story (which you can view BY CLICKING HERE if you don’t mind spoilers) had the giveaway in the headline and the URL of the online version.

In other words, if you picked up the paper or looked at the Web site, it was in your face. That includes Americans who traveled to the U.K. to see the movie this week, first for its premier and then for regular showings, who had tried to avoid spoilers.

To avoid specifics in this post, we’ll just say it was a spoiler that was categorically denied (or worded very carefully to make it sound like a categorical denial) by the principal involved and 007 FAN SITES TOOK THE DENIAL SERIOUSLY. Now, it turns out….well, we said we wouldn’t tell you because, well, it’s a spoiler.

The internet has increased the difficulty in remaining spoiler free. This, in turn, has made some fans more and more angry about spoilers.

Back in the early ’90s, just as internet message boards were getting popular, somebody wrote a post on the old Prodigy system about Alien 3. It’s title? “ALIEN 3 — RIPLEY DIES!” Responses quickly were written urging new laws to prevent this sort of thing. Those were among the milder of the responses.

It has continued since. Some folks get concerned when you give away the ending of an old movie. They don’t necessarily get upset if you mention that Rosebud is the name of the sled, but will (with a straight face) object to talking about the ending of an eight-year-old film such as Layer Cake (which has a major connection to Skyfall; we won’t tell you what it is, because it’s a spoiler).

At one time, the 007 movies didn’t seem too concerned about spoilers; soundtracks had titles such as “Death of Fiona” or “Death of Aki” among their tracks.

Skyfall’s publicity has been different, with references to all the twists in the film’s story and thus it had to be hush-hush. On the other hand, there was a press preview two weeks before Skyfall was scheduled to be shown in U.K. While most of the critics who have written about the film have been restrained with plot details, it’s hard not to give anything away.

For U.K. fans, you only have a few more days to dodge the dreaded spoilers. U.S. fans have a tougher job, especially once U.K. 007 fans start writing on the internet about the film two weeks before it shows up in U.S. theaters.

Intriguing hints about Skyfall in some early reviews

Daniel Craig, awaiting the Skyfall reviews


While we’ve done our best to keep this spoiler free, if you’re feint-hearted about this sort of thing, stop reading now.

We looked over some early Skyfall reviews after a press preview in the U.K. on Oct. 12. The writers generally tried to avoid just reciting the plot verbatim but it’s hard to review a movie without saying something about the plot. In any case, there were some intriguing snippets in the reviews. Some examples follow.

OLIVER LYTTLETON, THE PLAYLIST:

The review says the 23rd 007 film, directed by Sam Mendes, is like a Christopher Nolan-directed 007 film without Nolan.

Best of all is the bad guy. (Javier) Bardem was always a tantalizing choice to play a Bond villain, and his Silva is a terrific creation, and certainly the most memorable villain in the series in decades. There’s too many fun surprises to the character to give away here, but rest assured that Silva — who again, owes more than a little to a Nolan character, namely Heath Ledger’s Joker — hits the center of the funny/strange/scary Venn Diagram beautifully, with the actor making some bold choices that payed off with a huge reaction from the audience in London tonight. (emphasis added)

The reviewer says Mendes-Bond (or sort-of-Nolan Bond) is closer to classic 007 than other recent entries.

(T)here’s a real sense of mystery to the plot, giving the film a propulsive whodunnit-and-why momentum that lasts into the final act. But it’s also crucially never dour; the emo-Bond of “Quantum Of Solace” is nowhere to be found, with Mendes treating things with a light, playful touch throughout.

The review is less enthusiastic about Skyfall’s running time, which reaches nearly two-and-a-half hours. The review gives the film a B-Plus grade.

BAZ BAMIGBOYE, THE DAILY MAIL:

The writer, who had a number of scoops about Skyfall while it was in pre-production and production, fawns over the movie.

This Bond adventure directed by Sam Mendes is pure classic 007 fare , back on firm footing after the less than memorable Quantum of Solace.

Skyfall was a fantastic combination of 007 meets Bourne meets Spooks meets Home Alone.

Graham Rye who has published the Double-O-Seven Magazine for 30 years, hailed the film as ‘brilliant’ and said it’s ‘up there in the top five of all the 23 films made in the world’s most famous film franchise’.

When I asked how many stars he would give Skyfall out of five he said: ‘That’s not the right number.’

He waited a beat and declared: ‘It’s a 10 star Bond film. It’s up there with the best of them.’

The writer also spills the beans about Albert Finney and his character, gives away one of the meanings of the film’s title and boasts one of his still-unverified scoops (which references in a coy way) is proven to be true. Which scoop? It’s mentioned in THIS JULY 13 HMSS WEBLOG POST. Obviously, don’t click if you want to stay spoiler free.

GRANT ROLLINGS, THE U.K. SUN:

The review tries to out-fawn the Daily Mail, with a headline, “The coolest James Bond film yet.”

This film is stylish, witty and a class above the competition. It’s also irreverent about its past.

Daniel Craig again proves himself to be a great Bond.

(snip)

Joining Craig in Skyfall is the most impressive set of actors and actresses ever assembled in one Bond film

ROBBIE COLLIN, THE TELEGRAPH

Another review saying Sam Mendes is channeling Christopher Nolan, director of the 2005-2012 Batman trilogy released by Warner Bros.

Sam Mendes’s frequently dazzling, utterly audacious entry in the franchise has less in common with its much-loved predecessors than Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight. After its release in 2008 (when it left Quantum of Solace, the 22nd Bond film, trailing in its wake), Nolan’s pathbreaking superhero picture almost single-handedly reconfigured the modern blockbuster template. Like a wise old dog, 007 has studied it carefully, and learned some new tricks. (emphasis added)

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