Bond 25: Annoying stories edition

Daniel Craig

This week, Daniel Craig talked (very, very) briefly about Bond 25. He didn’t say much, except to say (again) he’d be doing the movie. However, that didn’t stop a number of stories with very annoying passages. Here’s a look at some.

VANITY FAIR, APRIL 11: “Bond 25 Is Coming Sooner Than You Think,” the magazine proclaimed in a headline on its website. In the first paragraph, it said, “Break out your martinis and Omega watches, because Bond 25 is upon us.”

No, no it’s not. Eon Productions and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer said last year the movie would have a U.S. release date of November 2019. MGM, last month on an investor call, said Bond would return in 2019. Bond 25 is not upon us.

In other words, nothing has changed. The only people who are surprised are the scribes and editors at Vanity Fair who, from a 007 perspective, have been in a slumber to rival that of Rip Van Winkle’s.

DEN OF GEEK!, APRIL 11: The entertainment news website examines the release slate of Sony Pictures and ponders whether Sony might end up distributing Bond 25.

“We’ve learned that indie outfit Annapurna Pictures will team with MGM and EON Productions for US distribution, but last we heard, the international rights are up for grabs,” Den of Geek! said.

Well: 1) Eon Productions isn’t involved in distribution. It may or may not have a say, but distribution is an MGM decision. 2) Clearly, Den of Geek! has fallen behind in its reading, including last week’s STORY BY THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER that no Bond 25 distribution decision has been made and that MGM is using its Bond rights to attract buyers.

To be sure, MGM and Annapurna last year formed a joint venture to distribute each other’s movies in the United States. But Bond 25 wasn’t part of the deal. Deadline: Hollywood reported in November that joint venture was close to getting the U.S. Bond 25 deal. But hasn’t happened yet.

Note to Den of Geek!: There’s this site affiliated with the blog called the Bond 25 Timeline. You might want to check it first before doing your next article on Bond 25. h/t to reader @CorneelVf on Twitter for pointing out the Den of Geek! story.

OBSERVER, APRIL 10: The story isn’t bad for the most part. It notes for example, the lack of a distributor for Bond 25. But there is one line that was annoying.

“We can only assume that franchise producer Barbara Broccoli is paying Craig handsomely for his fifth and final Bond installment,” the Observer said.

Ultimately, Barbara Broccoli doesn’t pay the bills. The studio (or studios with co-financing deals) handles that chore. Eon has never financed Bond movies. Whatever money it has fronted has been returned once a studio (beginning with United Artists in the early 1960s, MGM after it acquired UA in the 1980s) OK’s the movie and started paying.

VARIETY, APRIL 10: The entertainment publication/website essentially summarized an Associated Press video of what Craig said this week. So far, so good. Then, there was this passage:

“At one point  (Craig) said he would ‘rather slash my wrists’ than play Bond again and said he would only do another film ‘for the money.’ Apparently, the studio paid him handsomely.”

At least Variety understands the studio foots the bills. However, this falls into the annoying category because Variety ignored the scoop of its rival (The Hollywood Reporter) about MGM seeking to be acquired and putting off a Bond 25 distribution deal.

I’m sure Craig is in line for a big pay day if Bond 25 is made. But it won’t get made unless it is financed (something at least somewhat in doubt until the distribution situation is ironed out). It might have been a better use of time for Variety to find out what really is going on than to write a snarky line.

Marvel Studios boss teases a ‘finale’

Marvel art in 2016 celebrating the eighth anniversary of Iron Man (2008).

Marvel Studios gave Vanity Fair writer Joanna Robinson a peek behind the curtain, which included mention of a “finale” with 2019’s as-yet unnamed Avengers movie.

The man doing the talking was none other than Kevin Feige, who runs the Walt Disney Co.-owned operation.

While Feige refused to reveal any details about the characters and stories Marvel has yet to introduce, he did promise a definitive end to the franchise that built Marvel. Avengers 4, he said, will “bring things you’ve never seen in superhero films: a finale.”

(snip)

“There will be two distinct periods. Everything before Avengers 4 and everything after. I know it will not be in ways people are expecting,” Feige teased.

A number of the franchise’s key actors, including Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson and Chris Hemsworth, have contracts nearing their end, Robinson writes for the magazine’s Holiday 2017 issue. Also, actors naturally like to move on to new challenges. Downey will have played Tony Stark for more than a decade in multiple inter-connected movies by the time Avengers 4 comes out in May 2019.

In a way, Marvel has at times adapted the old Eon Productions playbook, including balancing drama and humor and finding ways to economize even though the movies are expensive overall. At the same time, Marvel is definitely an example of the corporate model of movie making compared with the still family-controlled Eon.

In turn, there other studios have tried to establish “movie universes.” So far, at least, they haven’t matched Marvel’s track record.

Some unimportant questions about Bond 25

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Following this week’s announcement of a 2019 release date for Bond 25 here are some unimportant questions about 007’s next film adventure.

Why make this announcement now? The announcement came the Monday after last weekend’s San Diego Comic Con. That event saw November’s Thor: Ragnarok film, this November’s Justice League movie and next year’s Avengers: Infinity War film grab a lot of publicity. Perhaps it’s a chance to remind audiences that James Bond is yet to be heard from?

Why announce a release date without a star, distributor or a director? We don’t really know. See answer (such as it is) to the previous question for a possible explanation.

What do you mean by that? The San Diego Comic Con has become a publicity launching pad for movies and television shows. 007 has been mostly a no-show at the San Diego Con. Although, to be fair, there were some 007-licensed dolls that were part of this year’s comic con festivities.

Why not announce more? Short answer: The principals aren’t ready to say more right now.

Of course, the short announcement on Monday wasn’t the last word.

The New York Times reported the same day that Daniel Craig’s return as Bond was a “done deal.” Deadline: Hollywood said there were three finalists to direct. And Variety said one of said finalists, Frenchman Yann Demange, is the front runner.

Could it be this is part of a marketing master plan by Eon Productions?

Well, if:

–Eon and Craig got together as SPECTRE wrapped production in July 2015 and knowing Craig was scheduled to do some interviews which would be embargoed until October, Eon publicists encouraged Craig to say he’d rather slash his wrists than play Bond again.

–When the interviews came out in October, the plan was this would create some uncertainty whether Craig would and create extra buzz as SPECTRE was being released.

–That Eon’s Michael G. Wilson, in an interview in November 2015, would say Craig wasn’t signed to a contract, to deliberately further stoke up the uncertainty and buzz.

–That Eon (or Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer) deliberately planted stories like a September 2016 one in Vanity Fair saying that MGM CEO Gary Barber contacted Craig “to express his frustration in no uncertain terms” with the actor because of the “slash my wrists” interviews.

So, if all that happened, then, yeah, events of the past two years may have been part of a well-oiled plan worthy of Ernst Stavro Blofeld.

Or maybe not.

A Sampling of Early Atomic Blonde Reviews

Atomic Blonde poster

Atomic Blonde, this summer’s spy movie, has received mostly positive back in March when the film was shown at the South by Southwest film festival.

The film, starring Charlize Theron, had a Rotten Tomatoes score of 81 percent because of those reviews. It remains to be seen how the score may change with newer reviews that come in ahead of its opening this week.

Regardless, here are some non-spoiler excerpts of reviews.

ERIC KOHN, INDIEWIRE: “The first solo effort by ‘John Wick’ co-director David Leitch, ‘Atomic Blonde’ exists in the same realm of hyperstylized action built around the cold ferocity of an unstoppable action star. It only falters when attempting to tie more story around her….Oscillating between the relentless energy of ‘John Wick’ and the dense plotting of a John Le CarrĂ© novel, ‘Atomic Blonde’ never quite finds a happy medium between the two. But when Theron goes back to kicking ass, nothing else matters.”

JOHN DEFORE, THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER: “The more obvious comparison, of course, is with the latest, earthily violent incarnation of James Bond. As enjoyable as Atomic Blonde can be at times, its main utility may be its demonstration that Theron deserves better than this. If not a reincarnation in which James becomes ‘Bond, Jane Bond,’ then at least something with more staying power than this actioner, which looks good and gets some things right, but is as uninterested in its protagonist’s personality as its generic name suggests.”

ANDREW BARKER, VARIETY: “Lifted from Antony Johnston’s graphic novel ‘The Coldest City,’ ‘Atomic Blonde’s’ heroine is a blank slate of emotionless efficiency. A master of cold stares and even colder line readings, (Theron character) Lorraine’s entire diet appears to consist of frozen Stoli on the rocks…Leitch seems uninterested in developing relationships between his characters, leaving them to scamper about on parallel tracks until the hazy machinations of the plot conspire to bring them together.”

JOANNA ROBINSON, VANITY FAIR: “In Atomic Blonde, (Theron’s) Cold War-era spy character, Lorraine Broughton, brutally dispatches Russian and German agents without ever losing an inch of style. She’s the captivating eye of a rather messy plot storm, and you won’t be able to keep your eyes off her for a second. The film had a triumphant, ecstatic debut at SXSW on Sunday night, but won’t debut in the U.S. until July 28. All other summer blockbusters should just surrender now.”

MEREDITH BORDERS: BIRTH. MOVIES. DEATH:Atomic Blonde gives us so little to actually care about, an exercise in style over substance where even the style starts to grate after a time.”

Will the Daniel Craig 007 soap opera take it up a notch?

Daniel Craig in a pose worthy of Orson Welles.

Which way will you turn, Daniel? Which way will you turn?

The James Bond soap opera, As Daniel Craig Turns, may ratchet it up a notch. Or not.

In six days, the 48-year-old actor is scheduled to appear at The New Yorker Festival in a program titled “Beyond Bond.”

Craig is to talk for 90 minutes with the magazine’s Nicholas Schmidle.

After all these months of speculation whether Craig will make a fifth Bond film, Schmidle almost has to ask the actor the question. The New Yorker, afterall, is a high-brow journalistic operation and one of the most prestigious in the United States.

If the award-winning journalist didn’t ask the obvious, it might put a dent in his reputation. Also, when you tease your program by calling it “Beyond Bond,” you’re practically advertising you intend to ask.

Assuming the question arises, that doesn’t mean Craig has to answer, of course. He’s been known to give curt answers to the entertainment press. Some of his fans love that aspect about the star, saying they love watching him befuddle the scribes.

Still, Craig’s appearance at The New Yorker might mean we finally hear him address his Bond future.

The appearance comes as a high-ranking member of Eon Productions, Callum McDougall, told the BBC this week that Craig is still Eon’s top choice as 007. McDougall is one of the main deputies of Eon co-bosses Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson.

That interview prompted Vanity Fair to post a snarky article titled Everybody but Daniel Craig Wants Another Daniel Craig Bond Film. Vanity Fair noted Craig’s interview (originally published by Time Out London) where he said he’d rather slash his wrists than do another 007 movie.

Of course, that interview was done shortly after SPECTRE wrapped up filming. Doing another Bond film was likely the last thing Craig wanted to think about.

Nevertheless, Vanity Fair previously reported Craig’s remarks angered the head of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Eon’s partner in the Bond franchise.

In the newest Vanity Fair article, Yohana Desta opined, “But for the love of Bond fans and poor, rich, tormented Daniel Craig, please make a decision soon, Broccoli.”

Cue the background music. Maybe the As Daniel Craig Turns soap opera will reach a climax. Or maybe not.

Which way will you turn, Daniel? Which way will you turn?

…and the (007) world goes round and round…

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

There’s a scene in The Dark Knight where the Joker performs his “magic pencil trick” and kills a thug by ramming a pencil into his eye. For many James Bond fans, it feels that way over the past week.

Radar Online, an entertainment and gossip site, kicked off the festivities on Sept. 3 with a story saying 1) Daniel Craig had been offered $150 million to do two more James Bond movies by Sony Pictures and 2) that Sony “should be announcing any day that the studio is re-upping the distribution rights for the Bond series.”

The immediate response among some Bond fans on social media was this was GREAT NEWS and Sony would be foolish not to offer the actor such a princely sum. Such fans didn’t want to hear why such an offer wouldn’t make economic sense.

It took a few days, but a number of sites moved to debunk the $150 million offer part of the Radar story, including FORBES.COM, HITFIX.COM and VANITY FAIR. While those sites went over the $150 million portion, they didn’t reference the second part. Each cited how Sony’s contract to distribute 007 movies ended with SPECTRE, without directly saying how Radar reported Sony (supposedly) had a new deal.

From HitFix: “Will they re-sign with Sony? Unlikely, but possible.” From Forbes.com: “The short (Radar) post makes four references to Sony, a studio that no longer has distribution rights to the 007 films.” From Vanity Fair: “(T)he decision to pay Craig such an astronomical fee would not unilaterally fall to Sony—which spearheaded the wide-release roll-out of the last four Double-0 films—even if the studio re-ups its distribution rights for the franchise, which expired with the release of Spectre.”

Admittedly, Radar waited until the seventh of eight paragraphs to reference how Sony (supposedly) has a new deal. Still, it was part of the story.

Is this post an endorsement of Radar’s story? No way. In our very first post, on the subject, also on Sept. 3, we slapped on the Caveat Emptor tag. That’s even more true now. Radar said Sony “should be announcing any day” it has a new 007 movie distribution deal.

The clock is ticking. If an announcement doesn’t materialize, say, in another week, Radar’s story may officially be dead.

Anyway, on Sept. 10, Radar Online was at it again. Its newest story proclaims actor Tom Hiddleston “could be canned from the James Bond movie he has been gunning for” because of his “split” from Taylor Swift.

Of course, a lot of people were skeptical the two were a legitimate couple in the first place. Regardless, despite being criticized by other news sites, Radar is still at it. The gossip site acts as if it was totally unaware prominent outlets were saying its original 007 story was crap.

Magic pencil trick, indeed.

 

Craig angered MGM chief, Vanity Fair says

Poster for SPECTRE

Poster for SPECTRE

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s top executive was angered last year when SPECTRE star Daniel Craig said he’s rather “slash my wrists” than play James Bond again, Vanity Fair reported.

The disclosure was part of a broader story mostly intended to knock down last weekend’s Radar Online story that the actor is being offered $150 million to do two more 007 films. (The publication says the offer is “is as fictional as Francisco Scaramanga’s third nipple”).

Here’s an excerpt that concerns MGM’s CEO, Gary Barber:

Craig’s “slash my wrists” comment didn’t exactly endear him to MGM’s chief executive and chairman Gary Barber who, Vanity Fair has learned, personally contacted the actor last year to express his frustration in no uncertain terms. (An email to Craig’s publicist was not immediately returned.)

“Gary hit the ceiling when he read the story,” says a source with knowledge of the situation, who declined to be identified because the person was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter. “He called up Daniel to yell at him. He was furious.”

Quick recap: Craig made the mark in an interview with Time Out London. The interview was conducted a few days after the seven-month shoot of SPECTRE was completed but not published until October.

The article was in Q&A format and the “slash my wrists” comment was in response to the 17th of 22 questions. Neverthless, other outlets jumped on the quote, leading with it in their summaries of the interview. Craig fans have been crying foul ever since on social media.

This isn’t the first time something like this has been reported. The New York Post’s Page Six gossip page  said 11 months ago that executives at Sony Pictures, which co-financed SPECTRE with MGM, had told Craig to shut up.

Vanity Fair, though, is considerably higher brow than the tabloid New York Post. The Vanity Fair story also says Craig still is contractually obligated to do another Bond movie. Michael G. Wilson, co-boss of Eon Productions, said last year that Craig is not.

To read the entire Vanity Fair story, CLICK HERE.