Bond 25 questions: The marketing edition

No Time to Die teaser poster

There may be no teaser trailer yet but it’s clear the marketing for No Time to Die is underway.

Since Sunday, The Sunday Times published an interview with star Daniel Craig; The Hollywood Reporter did a feature story on actresses Lashana Lynch and Ana de Armas; and the BBC interviewed screenwriter (and multi-Emmy winner) Phoebe Waller-Bridge.

These interviews didn’t just happen and were likely coordinated to begin drawing attention to the 25th James Bond film, which will debut in April 2020.

Of course, the blog has a few question.

Any trends you see?

Yes. Among them:

–Eon Productions is determined not to repeat P.R. problems from SPECTRE.

Daniel Craig did interviews shortly after SPECTRE finished filming but didn’t run until shortly before the movie came out. Those were likely embargoed until a certain date.

The problem? Craig’s (in)famous “slash by wrists” quote (likely made while just starting to decompress) from one interview went viral. People wondered whether Craig had enough playing Bond.

This time out, Craig talked plenty about he loves playing James Bond and he’s really, really not grumpy.

–Expect #MeToo and the Bond’s adjustment to that movement to be a talking point.

Many long-time fans complain that, in reality, Bond actually had strong women characters. Pussy Galore was a pilot who didn’t take guff from Bond. Fiona Volpe went to bed with Bond but was still determined to kill him. Soviet agent Triple-X was the first in a line of women agents who were Bond’s equal.

#MeToo still is a significant movement. No Time to Die is the first Bond to come out since that movement began. Some kind of acknowledgment was likely to happen.

–Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s involvement is going to be mentioned prominently.

Waller-Bridge is a hot property, both for her acting and writing. The general public is more than aware of her. She has hosted Saturday Night Live. She has won Emmys for Fleabag, the streaming series she created.

When you have a hot property, you make it part of marketing.

Anything else catch your eye?

The Lynch-de Armas interviews were a new take on an old theme. For decades, Bond actresses have said how they’re characters are different (or better) than previous female characters in the series.

In The Hollywood Reporter story, neither Lynch nor de Armas criticized previous female characters. Instead, there was talk of the effort being made to make their characters more rounded. At the very least, their comments were more subtle than previous Eon marketing efforts on this front.

What’s next?

A trailer (teaser or otherwise) will be out sooner than later. When that happens, we’ll get a better idea of the themes that will be emphasized.

About that fuss over Phoebe Waller-Bridge

Phoebe Waller-Bridge

The fuss about writer-actress Phoebe Waller-Bridge working on No Time to Die’s script isn’t going away. In part that’s because it’s getting hyped by various parties.

Case in point: The Sunday Times this week published an interview with star Daniel Craig. The actor said Waller-Brige is a great writer and there’s no reason she shouldn’t be on the project.

“Look, we’re having a conversation about Phoebe’s gender here, which is f****** ridiculous,” Craig told the newspaper.

The online entertainment site IndieWire decided to add some drama to the proceedings.

The IndieWire story ran with the headline, “Daniel Craig Shuts Down Reporter for Asking if Phoebe Waller-Bridge was a Bond Diversity Hire.”

A headline on Entertainment Tonight’s website boosted the hype a bit more. “Daniel Craig Claps Back At Reporter’s ‘F***ing Ridiculous’ Question About Whether Phoebe Waller-Bridge Was A Diversity Hire.”

That was an interesting take, especially given that the scribe for The Sunday Times didn’t feel shut down after Craig’s comments about Waller-Bridge.

It was then that I realised the more Craig shouts at you, the better things are going. He enjoys this sort of debate and, by virtue of the energetic rate he punches out words, nothing comes across as rude as it seems on the page. He is, instead, brusque and open. Just a really big fan of ironing things out and, like a friend in a pub during a fourth pint argument, any bad blood will be forgotten by the journey home.

Hence, we got a little drama where it perhaps really didn’t exist.

In a perfect world, Waller-Bridge’s gender would have nothing to do with her work on No Time to Die. But that’s not going to happen for a variety of reasons.

First, not that many women writers have worked on Bond films until now and only Johanna Harwood received a credit (Dr. No and From Russia With Love).

Second, Waller-Bridge is also a performer as well a scribe and has more visibility than most writers, female or male.

Finally, Waller-Bridge’s participation in No Time to Die may become a talking point for the movie.

The Daily Mail’s Baz Bamigboye had a September story quoting an unidentified executive (described as being close to the production) as saying Waller-Bridge’s “great” contribution to the script was “the savior of Bond, really.”

If Bamigboye’s source really is “close to the production,” then expect to hear more of this sort of thing.

Meanwhile, the notion of Waller-Bridge as No Time to Die’s savior is amusing given how another entertainment website, The Playlist, earlier this year essentially hyped another No Time to Die screenwriter, Scott Z. Burns, as saving the movie.

Who knew Bond needed so much saving?

For her part, Waller-Bridge hasn’t said much about No Time to Die. She said in a Deadline: Hollywood interview that Bond doesn’t have to change but the movies need to treat women better

In any case, expect more fuss related to Waller-Bridge between now and April when No Time to Die comes out.

Craig talks loving Bond films, Waller-Bridge as writer

Daniel Craig in Quantum of Solace.

In a new interview, Daniel Craig talks about he loves making James Bond films, the contributions of Phoebe Waller-Bridge to No Time to Die and denies being grumpy.

Craig talked to The Sunday Times in a story published today. It’s behind a paywall but there are ways to view it if you register for the site (two free articles a month) or get a subscription.

The Mr. Obvious takeaway is that Craig, 51, wants to set a different tone from SPECTRE. In 2015, he gave at least two interviews immediately after a long shoot that apparently were embargoed until just before the movie came out. One had a famous (or infamous) quote that all fans know so I won’t repeat it here.

With that in mind, some of the Bond-related highlights:

He loves being James Bond: “This may be hard to believe, but I love the fact I’m Bond. We’re in rare air, making Bond movies. It is one of the most intense, fulfilling things I’ve ever done, but it takes a lot of energy and I’m getting old. I’m getting creaky. And so what I do outside of that has got to be really good.”

On Phoebe Waller-Bridge: Craig was asked if it was his idea to recruit her to work on the script. “Yeah.”

He dodges a question about what specifically the writer-actress brought to No Time to Die before making more general comments.

“But she’s just brilliant. I had my eye on her ever since the first Fleabag [TV series], and then I saw Killing Eve and what she did with that and just wanted her voice. It is so unique — we are very privileged to have her on board.”

He also said there’s been too much attention paid to Waller-Bridge’s gender.

“Look, we’re having a conversation about Phoebe’s gender here, which is f****** ridiculous. She’s a great writer. Why shouldn’t we get Phoebe onto Bond? That’s the answer to that. I know where you’re going, but I don’t actually want to have that conversation. I know what you’re trying to do, but it’s wrong. It’s absolutely wrong. She’s a f****** great writer. One of the best English writers around. I said, ‘Can we get her on the film?’ That’s where I came from.”

He says he’s not grumpy: Craig acknowledges his reputation for being grumpy. “But then I don’t do much to dispel it, because I’d just be chasing my tail to prove that I’m not the person people think I am.

“But I’m not grumpy. Genuinely, I’m not. I hope you can tell. I love what I do. I love this business, and I don’t mind talking to journalists. I mean, I don’t love it. Yet I don’t mind talking about stuff I love.”

The article also discusses in detail Knives Out, his newest non-Bond project which comes out later this month.

Connery still most popular U.K. actor in U.S.

Sean Connery and David McCallum circa 1966

Party like it’s 1966: Sean Connery No. 1 most popular U.K. actor in U.S., David McCallum No. 4

Sean Connery, the original screen James Bond, is still the most popular U.K. actor in the U.S., according to an article in the Sunday Times.

Here’s an excerpt:

Connery, who played James Bond in seven films between 1962 and 1983, eclipses younger British actors including Colin Firth, Daniel Day-Lewis and even Daniel Craig, the current 007.

He is the most popular Briton to feature in the Q Score charts, which are based on opinion polls conducted in America every six months, asking 1,500 people how much they like stars and the extent to which they trust them.

The ARTICLE and full list is behind a paywall, meaning you have to register for the website to view it. But copies have circulated elsewhere on the Internet. Anyway, for readers of this blog, here are some other names of interest:

No. 4: David McCallum, who gained fame as Russian agent Illya Kuryakin in The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and is a supporting player on NCIS.

No. 6: Judi Dench, who played M in seven James Bond films from 1995 through 2012 and an Oscar winning actress.

No. 8: Daniel Craig, James Bond actor in three movies, 2006 to present and has said he’s signed to play 007 in two more movies. The next, the untitled Bond 24, is scheduled for fall 2015.

No. 12: Robert Carlyle, who played one of the villains in 1999’s The World Is Not Enough.

No. 21: Alan Cumming, character actor who played a secondary villain in 1995’s GoldenEye.

No. 24: Henry Cavill: most recent screen Superman in 2013’s Man of Steel and currently playing Napoleon Solo in a movie version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Was also one of the finalists for the 007 role who lost out to Daniel Craig in 2005 for 2006’s Casino Royale.

No. 27: Jane Seymour: busy actress who played Solitaire in 1973’s Live And Let Die.

UPDATE (Oct. 28): This ARTICLE IN THE GUARDIAN isn’t behind a paywall and a has a full list of the top 20.

Bond 23 to have tighter budget, The Sun says

The Sun, the U.K. tabloid newspaper, says Bond 23 will be made on a tighter budget than previous entries in the series.

The story (which you can read BY CLICKING HERE) leads off by saying Daniel Craig will grow a beard for the movie. But this passage caught our eye:

The film is going to be made on a shoestring budget in comparison to the last few.

A source said: “They’ve really scaled back.

“The lavish production and locations have been cut.

“There is only a reduced cast and crew travelling to the few overseas destinations.”

The Sun gets no more specific than that, nor describes how the source came across the information. The paper also doesn’t provide a specific budget figure. (It also has a plot spoiler if you care to read the story).

This is the second report (at least indirectly) referring to a smaller budget for Bond 23. The Times of India, IN A STORY IN AUGUST said Bond 23’s budget was $135 million. That newspaper didn’t specify how it got that figure, not even attributing it to a source, just stating the number.

Quantum of Solace had a budget of $230 million, according to The Numbers.com Web site. As we’ve noted before, a reduced Bond 23 budget would make sense. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which controls half the 007 franchise, reorganized itself in bankruptcy court. Sony Corp., whose Columbia Pictures will distribute Bond 23, is having its own financial tough times. It’s up to MGM and Sony to finance Bond 23 and the world is a lot different in 2011 than it was in 2008.

UPDATE: The $135 million figure may have originated with a story in the Sunday Times of London earlier this year. You can read a version that ran on The Australian’s Web site by CLICKING HERE. That story said MGM and Sony intended to raise $45 million, or one-third of Bond 23’s production budget, through product placement deals.

Simple math — 45 multiplied by 3 — gives you $135 million.

Our (not so serious) Bond 23 product placement suggestions

So, Sony and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer want product placement to provide one-third of Bond 23’s production budget, according to a Sunday Times story that ran in The Australian recently. Are there new ways this can be accomplished? New sources of product placement may have to be found that go beyond the usual car and watch deals. We have some ideas:

Bond at breakfast: The hallmark of the Daniel Craig 007 era is that it’s supposed to be gritty and real , no more of the hokey one liners, no more hackneyed, fantasy plots. This is REAL LIFE (except when the laws of physics are violated, but that’s artistic, so it’s OK). What’s more gritty and real life than eating breakfast? This is real life, after all.

Think of it. No 007 movie has shown Bond having breakfast. The closest we got was Sean Connery ordering yogurt and green figs for the next morning in a scene in From Russia With Love. The script could be crafted that Bond is thinking really, REALLY hard about something at breakfast. Daniel Craig can look angry, he could look inquisitive, whatever furthers the story. And while he does that, he can have Kelogg’s Frosted Fakes, or Dannon yogurt or an Egg McMuffin from McDonald’s, or whoever offers the best deal.

This would have the added benefit of being true to the spirit of Ian Fleming, whose original 007 novels featured a lot of detail on what Bond ate. As the MBA types would say, it’s a win-win situation.

Bond at the gym: If the Bond 23 story included some sexual tension between 007 and a female character, it could be set up this way: Bond and the woman exchange some banter. The woman could say something suggestive.

“Well,” Bond replies, “I really have to work out first.” The woman says in a sultry manner, “I’d really love to see that.”

We cut to Bond at the gym working out. Nike, no doubt, would gladly pony up big bucks to get its name on Bond’s gym clothes. Some of Nike’s competitors would offer a lot just to make sure Nike wouldn’t get into the movie.

This also fits into how the Craig 007 movies are gritty and real, not fantasy. After all, ripped bodies like Craig/Bond don’t just happen. They’re the result of a lot of hard work and dedication. It would reinforce how 007 is a dedicated, serious character, not some quipster.

Bond staking out his quarry: In the gritty and real world, 007 can’t just wonder into some place and just spring into action. If the story calls for it, we could see his gritty and real determination to get information, to get an opponent. We could see him parked discreetly away, spending hours patiently waiting for the right moment to strike. And while he’s doing so, he can drink a coffee from Starbucks, or one of its competitors. Once more, this would reinforce the themes of the Daniel Craig era.

As Marc Forester might say, each product placement is its own character, it has its own contribution, it helps to make it real. These suggestions help further that artistic vision.

Roger Deakins confirms he’ll photograph Bond 23; next 007 film to have record product placement, Sunday Times says

Roger Deakins confirmed on May 1 that he’ll be director of photography for Bond 23 in a posting on his own Web site.

This is all he said:

Yes, I can say that I am doing the next ‘Bond’ film. It is early days and the film won’t shoot until November.

Deakins’s comment seems to verify a comment Judi Dench made about a November start of production for Bond 23. The film, Daniel Craig’s long-delayed third outing as Bond, will be directed by Sam Mendes and has a release date of Nov. 9, 2012.

UPDATE: The Sunday Times of London reports that Bond 23 will have a record amount of product placement — enough to cover one-third of its production budget. An excerpt:

Under a deal struck between the MGM studio and the film’s distributor, Sony, $45 million will be raised from companies wanting their brands displayed on screen, says a New York marketing executive.

The figure is twice the previous record, held by Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report, released in 2002. Lexus, Bulgari and American Express together paid about $20m to appear in the film.

The Sunday Times Web site is subscription only. However, The Australian newspaper’s Web site is running the article so you can view it BY CLICKING HERE.