Skyfall updates: MGW’s U-turn, no Mendes vanity credit

We were catching up on some Skyfall-related items and two caught our eye.

Michael G. Wilson


First, Michael G. Wilson, on the surface, appears to be taking a different position compared with comments he made in December. According to the London Evening Standard, the co-boss of Eon Productions had this to say about star Daniel Craig:

Michael G Wilson, the James Bond producer, was speaking at a culture industry seminar during the (Summer Olympic) Games and said Eon Productions will have no qualms about replacing the franchise’s latest star should Skyfall, the next film in the series, prove to be the rugged actor’s peak.

Recalling the decision to axe Craig’s predecessor, Wilson said: “Pierce [Brosnan] was well-liked and the grosses were going up. But we knew we had to change things before they started to taper off. Bond is the star. He is bigger than any actor that portrays him.”

Less than nine months ago, Wilson had this to say in an interview with the U.K. People Web site:

Legendary Bond producer Michael G Wilson said: “Daniel’s been a terrific Bond, a superb actor and a ­terrific man. The fans love him and I don’t think there’s a better actor to play the part.”

Chester-born Craig, below, is currently shooting Skyfall, his third Bond film. And in an ­exclusive interview with The People, Wilson told how he would love him to do five more.

He said: “It’s certainly something we’ll be ­discussing with him once we finish shooting Skyfall.

“Filming has gone very well so far and I’d love Daniel to surpass Roger’s record and do eight pictures. Daniel’s been an absolute pleasure to be around because he takes the role so seriously. There’s really no one more passionate about making these films work than him – he’s a film maker’s dream.”

This isn’t the first time Wilson has done an about face. In November, he said Skyfall represented no change in direction from Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. Then, he said there was a “magical Goldfinger feel” during Skyfall’s filming, suggesting a somewhat more escapist tone.

Fans should probably not overreact either way. Fans who like Craig said it was great the actor would do eight movies (which would mean Craig would be 54 when finishing up as 007, assuming Eon could maintain an every-other-year pace). Fans who want a change may be tempted to rub their hands and start the countdown to a new 007. Given how Wilson changes position, that’s way too premature. Most fans don’t keep track of how the Eon co-boss ducks and weaves. For us, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen Wilson’s act and it’s probably not the last.

Second, last week, the early U.K. Skyfall posters were revealed. While many fans debated the images, we tried to check out the credits. They’re pretty small, but they indicate that a question we posed back in January has been answered with a no. Director Sam Mendes doesn’t get a vanity credit (A Sam Mendes Film, A Film by Sam Mendes, etc.) for Skyfall.

Some of our readers correctly predicted the outcome at the time. For example, “M” of the James Bond Dossier Web site had this to say:

“No vanity credit for you.”

I don’t think he will, as the Bond films are Brand Eon.

And reader “Bob” opined:

….and the only vanity credit on the film will be
Albert R Broccoli’s EON Products (sic)
Presents

From what we could see, Skyfall continues the tradition begun with 1997’s Tomorrow Never Dies of saying, “Albert R. Broccoli’s Eon Productions Presents.”

Comparing Skyfall talking points to teaser trailer


The Skyfall teaser trailer is less than 75 80 seconds, but it is the first real chance to compare Skyfall’s marketing and talking points to excerpts of the finished product. The teaser trailer is an indication what the Skyfall principals want to emphasize. Until now, fans only had words to go by.

So, here an *early* comparison. Until there’s more to judge, this is a preliminary evaluation:

ON THE MARK:

“With Casino Royale, we started down a path, and we’re sticking with that path.” Michael G. Wilson, co-boss of Eon Productions at November news conference in London, when asked if there would be any changes of direction in Skyfall. Based on the trailer, Skyfall looks to, indeed, another Casino Royale or Quantum of Solace.

In later 007 novels by Ian Fleming, James Bond 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 (Craig) as an actor is capable of exploring them.” That’s director Sam Mendes as quoted by The Associated Press, talking to the press in Turkey in April. Based on the trailer, Craig/Bond is indeed a somber chap.

“Skyfall is even a bit darker than usual.” Mendes as quoted by LaRepubblica during an April media event. Darker than Quantum of Solace? Maybe, maybe not. Darker than the bulk of the 23-film series made by Eon? Again, the trailer would seem to say yes.

LOOKING DUBIOUS

“The director Sam Mendes and Daniel are taking it back to a 60s feel – more Sean. I think that’s what the fans wanted. There’s a magical Goldfinger feel ­surrounding it all. Michael G. Wilson, as quoted in the U.K.’s The People in December, about six weeks after he said there’d be no change in direction with Skyfall. The teaser trailer didn’t appear to have much of a Goldfinger feel.

“I’m making a film that’s both a traditional Bond film, but also one that’s very personal to me.” Mendes as quoted by Shortlist magazine in late April. Skyfall may be personal to Mendes but, based on the trailer, the movie doesn’t look remotely like a traditional Bond film.

“If I agreed to shoot Bond is because I believe that it is now possible to make a film of escape, fun, but at the same time tell us something about the world in which we live.” Mendes, again quoted by LaRepubblica. Escape and fun? Not much fun was evident in the Skyfall teaser trailer.

Is Skyfall escapist or dark and gritty?


Eon Productions co-boss Michael G. Wilson caused a stir when he told the U.K. media outlet The People that he hoped Daniel Craig would do a total of eight 007 films. But there was something else he said that raises questions about Craig’s current Bond film, Skyfall.

Here’s the excerpt that caught out eye:

The 69-year-old New Yorker said: “The director Sam Mendes and Daniel are taking it back to a 60s feel – more Sean. I think that’s what the fans wanted. There’s a magical Goldfinger feel ­surrounding it all. It’s all very exciting. I can’t wait for people to see the movie because I think we’re making a very special Bond.”
(emphasis added)

Sean Connery, Shirley Eaton, and Ian Fleming on the set of GOLDFINGER


Goldfinger feel? That would indicate that Skyfall, scheduled to premier in the U.K. in October 2012 and in the U.S. the following month, would be somewhat escapist in tone; it is after all, hard to go more over the top than a plot involving smuggling an atomic bomb into Fort Knox. Diamonds Are Forever, released in 1971 and which attempted to emulate 1964’s Goldfinger, absolutely fell on the escapist side.

Wilson’s comment seems quite interesting, especially because, at a November press conference, Wilson indicated the opposite. “With Casino Royale, we started down a path, and we’re sticking with that path,” Wilson said at that time. That would indicate that Skyfall was doubling down on dark, gritty, not-your-father’s-James Bond movie of Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace.

It’s also interesting to note that Wilson says Skyfall will be “more Sean.” Wilson’s half-sister and co-boss of Eon, Barbara Broccoli, is on record as saying Craig is the best Bond ever. If that’s the case, why would you want “more Sean”? Connery, the original film 007, must be inferior, based on her outlook. You can only have one “best” Bond.

Is this nitpicking? Perhaps. But the powers that be at Eon should realize it’s not 1965 anymore — it’s a lot easier to check how statements made one day check against comments made previously. A lot of this is public relations and marketing, obviously. Still, when you contradict yourself within weeks it tends to weaken the public relations and marketing message.

Craig offered 007 extension, U.K.’s The People says

Daniel Craig may get the chance to wear his James Bond tuxedo for a long time.

Daniel Craig has been offered an extension of his 007 contract that would result in him playing James Bond for another five films, the U.K.-based The People says, quoting producer Michael G. Wilson in an interview.

If that happens, Craig would have been Bond for eight films, more than either Roger Moore (seven films in the series produced by Eon Productions) and Sean Connery (six Eon films and the non-series entry Never Say Never Again). He’s filming his third, Skyfall, now. Here’s an excerpt:

JAMES BOND actor Daniel Craig has been offered a multi-million pound deal to become the ­longest serving 007 of all time. (snip)

Legendary Bond producer Michael G Wilson said: “Daniel’s been a terrific Bond, a superb actor and a ­terrific man. The fans love him and I don’t think there’s a better actor to play the part…It’s certainly something we’ll be ­discussing with him once we finish shooting Skyfall…I’d love Daniel to surpass Roger’s record and do eight pictures.”

A few observations:

1) If Craig agrees to an extension, the actual number of movies will depend on whether Eon is ready to do the 007 pictures on an every-other-year basis. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, when it went through bankruptcy, said it planned to release Bond movies on such a schedule. But MGM and Eon share control of the franchise. MGM can’t release movies if Eon hasn’t made one.

2) Craig will be 44 when Skyfall is released. Another five movies on an every-other-year schedule, would put the actor at 54 when Bond 28 comes out in 2022. If the movies have a 3-year gap here and there, well, he’d be older than that after an eight-film run.

There’s only this quote from Wilson:

“The director Sam Mendes and Daniel are taking it back to a 60s feel – more Sean. I think that’s what the fans wanted. There’s a magical Goldfinger feel ­surrounding it all. It’s all very exciting. I can’t wait for people to see the movie because I think we’re making a very special Bond.”

Our No. 3 observation: The film will determine if that’s the case. For now, these are only words.

One factual error in the story: it refers to producer Barbara Broccoli as being Wilson’s “step-sister.” They are half siblings because they had the same mother, Dana Broccoli.