Bond 25 questions: Ginormous (?) premiere edition

No Time to Die poster released Sept. 1 before another delay was announced.

U.K. tabloids The Sun and Mirror this month reported about supposed plans for big No Time to Die premiere plans this fall.

The Sun wrote that star Daniel Craig will conduct a “whirlwind tour” of personal appearances of No Time to Die premieres. The Mirror said the movie’s producers are planning for a 10-million-pound (almost $14 million) premiere event in London, possibly in a stadium.

Naturally, the blog has questions.

How seriously should I take these accounts?

As usual, keep in mind U.K. tabloids have a reputation for cutting coners, overhyping things, etc. But that often doesn’t mean they’re wrong. And there are elements of the stories that pass the smell test.

How so?

Essentially, the two stories are talking about larger, but traditional, ways of promoting movies. Also, bear in mind that Michael G. Wilson of Eon Productions said in 2015 that Eon does the heavy lifting in devising Bond film marketing (“We pretty much run the marketing ourselves.”) while studios merely execute it.

Eon is nothing if not traditional.

What do you mean?

Eon boss Barbara Broccoli has said she’s opposed to Bond spinoffs. “We want to make these theatrical films,” Broccoli told Total Film published in the outlet’s 2020 Preview issue published in December 2019. “We want to make them one at a time, and create an anticipation for them, and deliver films of a very high standard.”

The movie business is feeling a big impact from streaming. Netflix became a big thing, in some times acquiring movies from studios. Walt Disney Co. and Warner Bros. are stepping up stepping up streaming efforts.

For Eon, the tagline of 2012’s Skyfall (the old ways are the best) is a way of life.

If true, how practical are these plans?

No Time to Die has been delayed three times because of COVID-19. The current release date is the Sept. 30 in the U.K. and Oct. 8 in the U.S. There are multiple COVID-19 vaccinations available.

By this fall, COVID-19 may be under control enough to permit these kinds of large gatherings. There certainly is “COVID fatigue.” One school of thought is there’s much pent-up demand we may see a new “Roaring Twenties” as COVID-19 gets under control.

It should be noted that COVID-19 progress isn’t taking place in a straight line. In the U.S., the current COVID hot spot is Michigan, where cases have skyrocketed since February. There may be more unexpected developments between now and the fall.

M:I 7 hit with setback, Sun says

Tom Cruise

Production of Mission: Impossible 7 was forced to end filming in the Middle East in a setback for the film, the U.K. tabloid Sun reported. The production has been trying to make a fall release date amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

An excerpt from the Sun:

Production staff demanded they were allowed to head back to the UK this weekend before hotel quarantine rules come into effect on Monday.

Studio bosses have now had to charter a private jet to bring them home because they were up in arms about not being able to return to their families.

A movie insider said: “The whole production has hit yet another issue and there have been revolts among the cast and crew.”

M:I 7, starring and produced by Tom Cruise, currently has a November release date. The disruption raises the possibility of a delay. No Time to Die, the 25th James Bond film, has an October release date.

An M:I 7 delay would eliminate direct competition between the two spy-fi productions. As things now stand, No Time to Die comes out Oct. 8 in the U.S. followed by M:I 7 six weeks later.

Sun says NTTD sponsors want updates

The Sun, Rupert Murdoch’s U.K. tabloid, has a story out saying that at least some No Time to Die product placement sponsors want reshoots to update their wares in the 25th James Bond film.

The article has a long passage quoting an insider (not identified) who comments on the situation. An excerpt:

“The problem is that some of those things were the very latest models back when they started filming.

“But by the time the movie comes out now it will look like Daniel Craig and all of the other cast members are carrying something that has been out for ages. That isn’t really the point of these deals.

“The big tech firms want the stars to have all the new up-and-coming products to help promote them and sell them to fans.”

Understandably, there was some skepticism among fans who read the story. For example:

–It might be hard to assemble to assemble the cast and crew for reshoots at the moment because of international travel restrictions related to COVID-19.

–Couldn’t some of this be taken care of with CGI or insert shots?

–It’s The Sun for crying out loud!

Last point first. The Sun hardly is a beacon of journalism but it has had some No Time to Die scoops, including reporting on details of a June 2019 accident at the 007 Stage that caused one injury.

No Time to Die was filmed from April to October 2019 so, yes, Bond and friends likely don’t have the most up-to-date products in No Time to Die. The movie has been delayed three times in less than a year because of COVID-19. The current release date is October 2021.

On top of that, when many of the product placement deals were struck, No Time to Die was supposed to be out in November 2019. But then-director Danny Boyle left the project. Cary Fukunaga was signed to replace him but the switch caused No Time to Die to be pushed back to, first February 2020 and then April 2020. Subsequent delays stemmed from COVID.

It is possible No Time to Die’s business partners are feeling a bit burned. In the fall of 2020, several debuted No Time to Die-related promotions. But then the movie got delayed to April 2021. Last week, it was pushed back again, this time without sponsor promotions.

No Time to Die product placement deals include Nokia, Land Rover, DHL, Omega, Aston Martin and Bollinger.

Bond 25 questions: The pish posh edition

“Wait? What? We’re not relevant anymore?”

There’s a lot of uncertainty concerning when Bond 25/No Time to Die will actually be seen by audiences. Regardless, there’s a lot of inconsequential gossip related to the movie.

Naturally, the blog has questions.

Hey, I read that Ben Affleck is breaking up with Ana de Armas. Does that have anything concerning No Time to Die?

Not really.

Are you sure?

Back in August, The Sun, Rupert Murdoch’s gossipy U.K. tabloid (the New York Post is Murdoch’s U.S. version) breathlessly reported that the makers of No Time to Die wanted to make sure Affleck didn’t show up to the premiere with de Armas. Other gossipy publications breathlessly picked up on it.

So that means the makers of No Time to Die must be happy, right?

I suppose.

What does that mean?

The makers of No Time to Die have a lot more to worry about. For example: Just when will No Time to Die really come out? Few really think it will be April (the current release date, only the latest among many).

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which is on the hook for almost $290 million (as of mid-2020) for No Time to Die is reportedly up for sale and it has more on its mind than Ben Affleck’s volatile love life.

Eon Productions, which actually makes the Bond films, probably isn’t happy that de Armas (who likely has a small part in No Time to Die) is a bigger star than Daniel Craig according to IMDB.COM’s STARmeter. Craig is the star and got paid a reported $25 million.

What makes you think that de Armas has a small part?

Because she wears the same evening dress in all the trailers and TV spots for No Time to Die. At this point, you’d think the editor of the trailers and TV spots could up with different shots of de Armas — if there were any.

Why do you refer to this as “pish posh”?

At this point, there’s not really much substantive to talk about No Time to Die. Gossip, like nature, abhors a vacuum.

Tom Cruise exposes an entertainment fault line

Tom Cruise, who probably not smiling when he yelled at the MI:7 crew

This week, the U.K. tabloid The Sun came out with a story about how Mission: Impossible 7 star-producer Tom Cruise yelled at crew members concerning how they didn’t take proper precautions for COVID-19.

Cruise’s language (including “motherfuckers”) got most of the attention. But Cruise’s other comments probably were more far-reaching.

Hollywood, Cruise said, is “making movies right now because of us,” the actor said. “I’m on the phone with every fucking studio at night, insurance companies, producers, and they’re looking at us and using us to make their movies.”

Mission: Impossible 7, being made back-to-back with Mission: Impossible 8, is one of the biggest movie projects being filmed in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. M:I 7 already has had COVID delays.

Millions of dollars are stake. Also, the movie industry is in flux because of streaming services. Warner Bros., now owned by AT&T, is going all in on streaming. Warner Bros. entire 2021 film slate will debut in the U.S. on HBO Max while also showing on theaters.

As a result, M:I 7 has even more riding on its shoulders.

“Do you understand the responsibility that you have?” Cruise told crew members, according to a recording of Cruise obtained by The Sun. “Because I will deal with your reason. And if you can’t be reasonable and I can’t deal with your logic, you’re fired.”

M:I 7 isn’t the only major movie project affected by COVID-19. The Batman incurred delays after its star, Robert Pattinson, came down with the virus.

Still, Cruise as a star-producer, has gravitas on the subject. He’s the closest thing to an old-time movie star in the 21st century. At 58, his days as a leading man may be running out. His M:I film series has been underway since 1996.

What’s more, COVID-19 continues to ravage many regions around the globe. Many people don’t believe the virus is real, or isn’t that serious. It’s probably not what Cruise intended. But his sharply worded comments go beyond the entertainment world.

UPDATE (Dec. 17): The Sun is out with another story saying that five crew members quit Mission: Impossible 7 after Cruise yelled at the crew about the need to meet COVID-19 safety procedures.

The Sun says No Time to Die may be delayed again

No Time to Die teaser poster

The Sun, Rupert Murdoch’s U.K. tabloid, said No Time to Die’s release date may be pushed back again because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Here’s an excerpt:

An LA source said: “There are very secret discussions moving forward about what to do.

“Bond films are massive money spinners; people forget Daniel’s work on Skyfall and Spectre staved off potential bankruptcy for the MGM company with its profits.

“This is business. And business decisions have to be made.

“Simply put having No Time To Die earning less than half a billion at the box office would be deemed a disaster – no matter the circumstances.”

The 25th James Bond film originally was set to come out in November 2019 in the U.S. It got pushed back to February 2020 and then, finally, seemed set for April 2020.

Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit. No Time to Die then was delayed to November of this year.

While COVID-19 cases have subsided in some regions, they are still reaching new highs in the U.S. market, which accounts for about 25 percent of a Bond film’s global box office haul. In the U.S., states such as Florida, Texas, Arizona and California are suffering major COVID-19 outbreaks.

The Sun’s unconfirmed story says a decision on a release date may be announced by the end of the month.

No Time to Die is being released by United Artists releasing (co-owned by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Bond’s home studio) in the U.S. and by Universal internationally.

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.