Skyfall breaks 007′s 47-year Oscar drought

Skyfall's poster image

Skyfall’s poster image


RECAP (11:55 p.m.): Skyfall won two Oscars, the first 007 film to win more than one. Goldfinger and Thunderball won one apiece. It broke a 47-year Oscar drought for the Bond series. The highest profile win was Best Song by Adele and Paul Epworth, finally giving the series a win after three previous Best Song nominations.

UPDATE IV (11:20 p.m.): Skyfall finally broke the 007 Best Song jinx, winning the Oscar for Adele and Paul Epworth (Best Song Oscars go to the songwriters, not the performer). Adele thanked producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli.

007 films had been nominated for Best Song three times with no wins: Live And Let Die, Nobody Does It Better from The Spy Who Loved Me and For Your Eyes Only. Classic Bond songs such as Goldfinger, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice and Diamonds Are Forever were never nominated.

A few minutes earlier, Skyfall’s Thomas Newman lost to Life of Pi’s Mychael Danna. Skyfall ends the evening with two wins out of five categories.

UPDATE III (11:03 p.m.): Earlier Adele performed Skyfall. Reaction was mixed in our quick survey of social media. Some fans felt she nailed it, others felt there were too many backup singers or other flaws. Afterwards, two musicians with ties to the 007 series made the “In Memoriam” segment: Hal David, who wrote lyrics for the 1967 Casino Royale spoof, 1969′s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and 1979′s Moonraker; and Marvin Hamlisch, who scored 1977′s The Spy Who Loved Me. Hamlisch was nominated twice for Spy (score and for “Nobody Does It Better”) but didn’t pick up any wins that night.

UPDATE II (10:20 p.m.): Skyfall broke 007′s 47-year Oscar drought by tying with Zero Dark Thirty for sound editing. Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers picked up Oscars, though they started to get shooed off the stage as the orchestra played the theme from Jaws.

It was the first win for a Bond movie since John Stears won for special effects for 1965′s Thunderball. Just before that, film lost the sound award to Les Miserables.

UPDATE I (9:28 p.m.): Halle Berry introduced the James Bond tribute segment, comprised of clips from the movies accompanied by the James Bond Theme and an instrumental of Live And Let Die.

Immediately after, Shirley Bassey appeared and did a rendition of Goldfinger, with a very traditional sounding arrangement. It was the Bond highlight so far after Roger Deakins’s loss. Twitter lit up with users commenting about Dame Shirley’s performance.

However, Ezra Klein, a political commentator, wasn’t impressed with the 007 tribute part. He wrote on Twitter: “Congratulations, Oscars, you managed to make the Bond franchise look unexciting.”

ORIGINAL POST: Roger Deakins, nominated for his cinematography in Skyfall, lost to Life of Pi’s Claudio Moranda.

Skyfall, the 23rd James Bond movie, has been nominated for five awards, the most in the history of the Bond film series. The previous 007 record was held by The Spy Who Loved Me with three nominations (and no wins).

Still to come as of 9:12 p.m. are the best song, best score and two sound categories where Skyfall has been nominated. For now, 007′s 47-year Oscar drought continues. The last Bond movie to get an Oscar was 1965′s Thunderball for special effects. A tribute to James Bond movies is coming up.

Skyfall soundtrack to avoid spoiler titles

Thomas Newman


Tony Lewis, a sound engineer working on the Skyfall soundtrack, says THROUGH HIS TWITTER FEED that the movie’s soundtrack is avoiding spoilers in the titles for individual tracks.

Two examples from Oct. 1:

Tony Lewis ‏@MusicEditorcouk
In other news, those who were asking about s/track name spoilers, you’ve got them. We’ve been careful to steer around anything giveaway

Tony Lewis ‏@MusicEditorcouk
@Skyfall007Fan no, sorry if I wasn’t clear – we’ve made the soundtrack titles NOT give much away

“Skyfall007Fan” and proprietors of Bond fan sites have peppered Lewis with questions as the soundtrack was recorded. He’s avoided giving anything of substance away (noting he signed a non-disclosure agreement).

The question came up because previous Bond John Barry-composed soundtracks have contained spoilers with tracks titled “Death of Grant” (From Russia With Love), “Death of Goldfinger” (Goldfinger), “Death of Fiona” (Thunderball) and “Death of Aki” (You Only Live Twice). In the case of Thunderball, the soundtrack made it to stores in November 1965, for the Christmas shopping season, a month before the film debuted in theaters.

The soundtrack, with music composed by Thomas Newman, is is available for pre-order on Amazon.com.

UPDATE (Oct. 7): To view the list of titles on the soundtrack, CLICK HERE.

007 updates: Skyfall score recording; MI6-Deadline spat

If you know where to look on Twitter, you can pick up on 007 related events. Some examples:

Skyfall’s score being recorded: The music for the 23rd James Bond movie has been recorded the past few weeks according to TWEETS BY TONY LEWIS, A MUSIC EDITOR. He hasn’t disclosed much. An Aug. 15 Tweet said, “It may feel like oct 26 is miles away but we’re on the home straight now ;) it’s going to be massive. #skyfall” Oct. 26 is the U.K. release date. An Aug. 5 Tweet says, “Another great day at @AbbeyRoad – we’re so close now you can almost touch it. #SKYFALL”

In another Aug. 5 Tweet, Lewis responded to a question about what Thomas Newman’s score for the movie was like. Lewis’s response: “sadly not – NDA’s forbid me – all I can say is that it’s ace.” Presumably NDA is short for non-disclosure agreement.

MI6′s clash with Deadline: On Sept. 6, the MI6 James Bond fan Web site had a story that Daniel Craig had been signed for Bond 24 and 25. That story was cited by a number of Web sites, including THE HUFFINGTON POST.

A day later, the Deadline entertainment-news Web site said it confirmed Craig had signed for the two future 007 movies without mentioning the MI6 story. Later that evening, MI6 fired back FROM ITS TWITTER FEED. That Tweet read:

@NikkiFinke Another day, another Deadline story ripped without credit. You know where you heard it first…. Craig for Bond 24 & 25

Finke is founder and editor-in-chief of Deadline and co-author of its story of the Craig signing. Back in January 2010, Deadline was the first TO REPORT that Eon was negotiating to bring Sam Mendes aboard what would become Skyfall. Shortly after that, Mendes’ publicist confirmed the talks to a U.K. newspaper while the director denied it to The Wall Street Journal.

A 007 statistic of note

On Aug. 20, an item on Nikki Finke’s Deadline Web site caught our eye, namely that the Twilight movies have amassed 1 million followers on Twitter. By late Aug. 21, that was up to 1,005,694. We were curious, so we looked up the official Twitter site for James Bond movies (a latecomer to the whole social media thing). It had 65,381 followers. The Twilight Saga follows 113 other Twitter users while 007 follows 0.

Why would we be interested? Because Twitter has become a big way of marketing movies. It’s another arm of the marketing department. It’s an indicator of what the studios behind movies want to emphasize. It’s also an indicator — albeit one of many — of the relative popularity of movies among a younger demographic that uses Twitter.

Having a gap between The Twilight Saga and the official 007 Twitter feed isn’t a great surprise. The Twilight Saga has been on Twitter since 2009. 007 didn’t go Twitter until November 2011, just ahead of a news conference to kick off the “official” start of Skyfall filming.

We made a note of it on our own modest Twitter feed and on Facebook and didn’t think much more of it. We more reaction than we thought we’d get. People are predicting that the number of 007 followers should go up when Skyfall’s marketing kicks into high gear, others are commenting it’s a sad state of affairs, etc. Does this mean anything? Who knows, but the statistics did draw a reaction.

One note, we’ve mentioned before. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn II, hits U.S. theaters on Nov. 16, one week after Skyfall. The first Twilight film debuted a week after Quantum of Solace in the U.S., and that Bond film saw its ticket sales slide 60 percent. Twilight won’t affect Bond fans making it to the theater. It remains to be seen whether the final Twilight movie could affect Skyfall attendance by film goers who aren’t hard-core 007 fans.

UPDATE I: Our friends at The James Bond Dossier suggested (on Twitter) that we compare the number of followers for both on Facebook, because Twitter users tend to be more tech savy while Facebook has a more general population. As of early Aug. 22, The Twilight Saga has 34,923,544 “likes” while the official 007 page has 1,097,319.

Harry Saltzman, the forgotten man, gets remembered

If the official 007 Twitter feed were your only source of information, you’d have to conclude the two guys on the left weren’t that important to the Bond movies.

It only took eight months and 319 posts, but the official 007 Twitter feed got around to mentioning Harry Saltzman, the co-founder of Eon Productions, which produces the James Bond film series.

OTDIBH: 1961, Eon Productions, the company behind the 007 series, was founded by producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman. ‪

The 007 Twitter feed, remember, is the official face of Eon as Skyfall, the 23rd 007 film, comes out this fall. The official Twitter feed didn’t get around to mentioning Ian Fleming, James Bond’s creator, until May 28 (the 104th anniversary of the author’s birth). It took even longer to recognize Saltzman who supervised script development of the earlier Bond movies. He was the one, for example, who brought in writers such as Paul Dehn and John Hopkins to revise Richard Maibaum’s drafts for Goldfinger and Thunderball.

Of course, if you checked out message boards on some James Bond Web sites, you’d see how some fans would claim that’s not really producing. In fact, supervising scripts is one of the most important things a movie producer does.

However, history is written by the winners. Saltzman sold out his interest in Eon in 1975 because he got into financial trouble. And the Broccoli-Salztman partnership was not an easy one.

Still, on the occasion of the golden anniversary of the cinema 007, it’s ridiculous to pretend as if Saltzman never existed. Saltzman, not Broccoli, had obtained the option for the film rights of the majority of Ian Fleming’s 007 novels. Without Saltzman, Eon would not come to be. If Broccoli had never met Saltzman (thanks to an introduction by writer Wolf Mankowitz), Cubby might have died the obscure producer of less-than-memorable screen epics such as The Bandit of Zhobe and Hell Below Zero.

The official 007 Twitter feed — and by extension, Eon itelf — avoided that level of ridiculousness today.

A few Skyfall numbers studio bosses will watch

The countdown for Skyfall’s release this fall has begun. For example, the official 007 Twitter feed says the movie is now 22 weeks away so it has a contest where the “best Tweet” today, May 27, receives 22 James Bond movie posters “signed by producers.” On the other hand, we’re wondering about some numbers that studio bosses at Sony’s Columbia Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer will be watching:

$600 million: Minimum figure for Skyfall’s worldwide ticket sales to be considered successful.

The highest worldwide gross to date was Casino Royale’s $596.4 million in 2006. In the U.S., the average ticket price was for a movie was $6.55 that year, according to to the National Association of Theatre Owners. That rose to $7.93 last year, according to the trade group.

So, ticket prices will be higher for Skyfall and the movie will be available at higher-priced Imax theaters, a first for a 007 film. As a result, if Skyfall ticket sales total under $600 million, executives (regardless of what they say in public) will probably be disappointed.

$70 million: Minimum figure for Skyfall’s opening weekend in the U.S. to be seen as a success. The biggest U.S. opening weekend for the Bond series was $67.5 million for 2008′s Quantum of Solace, when the average ticket price was $7.18 each.

Now, some will argue that the U.S. isn’t that important to the Bond franchise, that most of its sales are interantional, etc. That’s true. But U.S. numbers are important to the perception of how well a movie is scoring with audiences.

Example: Battleship had sold $230 million in tickets outside the U.S.. However, because it only had a $23.5 million opening weekend in the U.S., the Deadline entertainment Web site, said it had “John Carter-low grosses for high cost (which is why the star of both pics, Taylor Kitsch, will be asking “You want fries with that?” very shortly).”

50 percent: Studios expect, at least in the U.S., a movie’s ticket sales to decline 50 percent during a film’s second weekend. If the figure comes in at 50 percent or lower, execs are happy. Quantum of Solace dropped 60 percent its second weekend in U.S. theaters, yielding the No. 1 spot to the first Twilight vampire movie. Skyfall, in its second weekend in the U.S., will be up against The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part II.

The statistic Sony and MGM will be looking at is whether Skyfall’s dropoff stays around 50 percent or if it’s worse, the way Quantum’s was.

Mendes says Skyfall is both `traditional’ and `personal’

The Skyfall cast and crew conducted a press conference in Instanbul today. Shortlist magazine sent out updates on its TWITTER FEED. Shortlist quotes director Sam Mendes as saying the 23rd James Bond film will be both “traditional” and “personal.” Here’s the tweet:

Sam Mendes

Director Sam Mendes: “I’m making a film that’s both a traditional Bond film, but also one that’s very personal to me.” #skyfall

Shortlist quotes star Daniel Craig as saying, “Bond is as funny as hell in this movie,” compared with Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace.

UPDATE: Here’s a story by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS ON YAHOO. It contains this passage:

In Fleming’s last novels, Mendes said, Bond suffered from a “combination of lassitude, boredom, depression, difficulty with what he’s chosen to do for a living, which is to kill. That makes him a much more interesting character, and some of those things are explored in this movie, because Daniel as an actor is capable of exploring them.”

Based on the AP story, this Skyfall event may have had the most mentions of 007 creator Ian Fleming. The author, who died in 1964, just as Bond mania was approaching its peak, hasn’t gotten much attention so far in publicity for the movie.

UPDATE II: The Huffington Post is running this same AP story on its ENTERTAINMENT PAGE. The teaser to entice you to click (as of 11:15 p.m. ET)? “James Bond Gets `Depressed’ in `Skyfall’”

Her Majesty’s Secret Servant celebrates its 15th anniversary

Her Majesty’s Secret Servant celebrates its 15th anniversary this month. The Web site began as the “toy train” of founders/co-publishers Paul Baack and Tom Zielinski. The duo decided it’d be “rather fun” if some of the regular posters on the old alt.fan.james-bond newsgroup could contribute to an “e-magazine” centered around the special world of James Bond.

The format, then as now, was to divide the site into sections: Editorial (one or more commentaries, similar to the editor or publisher’s letters at the start of a print magazine), Films, Books, the Bond Market (all about collecting 007 items), Lagniappe (“a little something extra,” including THIS EXAMPLE done during the period when Die Another Day hadn’t gotten a title yet), F1rst Person (personal experiences with some element of 007) and the Other Spies.

Why the toy train analogy? It was always meant to be fun. Nobody is making a living off this corner of cyberspace (not unless THE HMSS SHOP suddenly takes off). Its contributors even have opinions that can vary greatly except for one thing: an affection for the world of James Bond.

Over the years, Raymond Benson presented photographs he took in Hong Kong when he was preparing his first 007 continuation novel, 1997′s Zero Minus Ten. Tom Zielinski interviewed the 007 screenwriting team of Neal Purvis and Robert Wade. The site also featured a Mark Henderson interview with Jeffery Deaver, author of the 2011 007 novel Carte Blanche. Outside of 007, the site ran an interview with film and television music expert Jon Burlingame about The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and the years he put in to produce original soundtracks from the 1964-68 show.

There’s a lot more to look back on. So, a “best of” issue of HMSS is in the works.

Since the first issue, HMSS has expanded with this weblog, which debuted in October 2008, a Facebook page and a Twitter feed. Still, the main site remains the heart and soul of the operation, especially Paul Baack’s distinctive design work.

So, 15 years later, here’s a note of thanks to the founders on behalf of everybody they’ve let play with their toy train.

Ian who? Harry what?

OK, enough is enough. Clearly, if the OFFICIAL 007 TWITTER FEED IS ANY INDICATION, Eon Productions hasn’t the slightest intention of recognizing the contributions of Ian Fleming (who created James Bond) and Harry Saltzman (Eon’s co-founder).

ON THIS DAY IN BOND HISTORY: Some old dude none of us 007 Twitter writers recognize showed up on the Goldfinger set.


On March 23, the official 007 Twitter feed noted this:

ON THIS DAY IN BOND HISTORY: 1964, Guy Hamilton shot the GOLDFINGER scene in which Bond meets and seduces Jill Masterson. #007 #SKYFALL

There was something else, based on photographs taken at the time, going on: Ian Fleming showed up on the Goldfinger set to chat with star Sean Connery and supporting player Shirley Eaton. A photograph of the meeting was taken and it’s one of the most-reproduced images of the 007 author showing up during filming of Bond movies. If it’s not the last, it’s one of the last.

Evidently, the 007 Twitter writers (or writer) didn’t know that or have any idea who this Ian Fleming character was. Reader’s Digest version: He wrote some novels featuring a character named James Bond. Without the novels, there aren’t any James Bond movies.

This week the official 007 Twitter account filed its 142nd Tweet. Number of mentions of Ian Fleming? Zero. While we were at it, we checked (based on a tip from the James Bond Dossier) the number of mentions of Harry Saltzman, the partner of Albert R. Broccoli for the first nine Bond films. Number of Saltzman mentions? Also zero.

Put another way, if Albert R. Broccoli had never met Ian Fleming (who created the character) or Harry Saltzman (who actually held the option to buy the film rights), Broccoli would not have won the Irving Thalberg Award in 1982 (an honary Oscar given to a producer). Broccoli likely would not have gotten an obituary in The New York Times. (Albert R. Broccoli, Producer of Hell Below Zero, Dies at 87? Please.)

We’ve brought this up before, including THIS POST and THIS POST. We got feedback that Cubby Broccoli definitely appreciated Ian Fleming and his daughter, Barbara Broccoli, and stepson, Michael G. Wilson, do too. That, we’re told, also applies to Harry Saltzman.

Perhaps. Even if that’s the case, people in the employ of Wilson and Broccoli (whether they be direct employees or outside contractors) haven’t got a clue.

Mendes to discuss Skyfall on Feb. 22

Sam Mendes, the director of Skyfall, will have a videoblog posted tomorrow on the official www.007.com Web site tomorrow, according to the film’s official Facebook page and Twitter feed.

Skyfall director Sam Mendes


The videoblog is scheduled to be posted at 7:00 a.m. GMT, or 2 a.m. ET in the U.S. The Facebook posting has a quote from Mendes:

“The roots of my doing this Bond movie start way before anybody approached me because, like everyone else, I have my own personal relationship with Bond which began when I was I suppose about nine or ten years old. I’ve always been a fan of the movies.”

UPDATE: Another Mendes quote from the Facebook page:

“I think it is still possible to make a big, entertaining, fabulous, glamorous movie and yet at the same time to say something about the world that we’re living in.”

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