THR says Broccoli & Wilson had rift with deposed MGM chief

Barbara Broccoli

The Hollywood Reporter, as part of a followup story about the firing of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer chief Gary Barber, said Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson of Eon Productions also had major differences with Barber.

“(I)nsiders say a rift had also developed between (Barber) and 007 producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson,” according to the story by THR’s Paul Bond. ‘“There was a revolt,’ says an insider who claims the Broccoli camp ultimately refused to work with Barber.”

The THR story  was posted this morning. Variety and Deadline: Hollywood had new or updated stories Tuesday night. All three outlets described how Barber and board chairman Kevin Ulrich disagreed over strategy. Ulrich, according to the accounts, wants MGM to get bigger amid changes in media.

Variety said MGM’s board “had doubts about whether Barber had the right strategic vision and willingness to take big risks.”

Deadline said: “Ulrich saw an opportunity for MGM to remake itself into a digital powerhouse by renaming Epix with the MGM brand and making it a subscription streaming service that could line up favorably along the likes of Netflix, Amazon, Disney’s new service, Hulu and others that come along. The idea would be to include the upcoming James Bond film’s pay window as part of this.”

The upcoming film, of course, is Bond 25, which has an official U.S. release date of November 2019. Ulrich heads a New York investment company, Anchorage Capital Group, a major shareholder in MGM.

UPDATE (2:35 p.m.): The Wall Street Journal weighed in with an MGM story I can’t access because it’s behind a paywall. However, one of the reporters, Ben Fritz, sent out this tweet quoting from a Broccoli-Wilson statement that’s not referenced in the story.



Bond 25: Bird in the hand is worth two in the bush?

Hang in there, James! We’ll get you a director yet!

There’s an old saying: A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

Does that apply to Bond 25?

In July 2017, Variety reported that Yann Demange, was the leading contender to direct Bond 25. The story came two days after Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Eon Productions said the next 007 adventure would be released in November 2019.

The twin announcements confirmed that veteran 007 scribes Neal Purvis and Robert Wade were scripting Bond 25.

Then, last month, Variety and Deadline: Hollywood said that Danny Boyle was now in the picture to direct Bond 25. Deadline’s story added the twist that Boyle would only direct if a story being scripted by John Hodge were selected as the blueprint for the 25th Bond adventure made by Eon Productions.

On March 1, The Hollywoord Reporter, the Daily Mail AND Deadine: Hollywood say Boyle’s next project is likely to be a musical. The Daily Mail story specifically says the musical will be based around the songs of The Beatles.

Finally, on March 5, THR comes out with a story that Demange will be executive director of a new HBO series, Lovecraft County, and will direct its first episode.

So, if all of this is true (admittedly a major qualification), it’s certain whether either Demange or Boyle will be available to direct Bond 25.

Could Eon (and MGM) by going for a more high-powered choice (Boyle) have chased off Demange? A situation again proving a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush?

Hard to say with certainty. Here’s how THR summed it up in its latest story.

Demange was a contender to direct the next James Bond movie and his boarding may further muddy that search. Demange, along with Denis Villeneuve and David MacKenzie were on the shortlist last year for the high-profile project, which is heading towards a release date of Nov. 8, 2019. The search got murkier in February when Danny Boyle became a contender.

Villeneuve is now focusing on Dune while Boyle is prepping a period music-themed drama. Now it seems that Demange’s time will be spent on Lovecraft Country.

Potentially, it’s a plot twist that even Ian Fleming wouldn’t have predicted.

Bond 25: THR says Boyle may direct a movie this summer

Danny Boyle

The Hollywood Reporter, in a story about director Danny Boyle, sounded a skeptical note about his availability to director Bond 25.

The entertainment news website reported that Boyle and “Love Actually screenwriter Richard Curtis have teamed up for an untitled comedy just set up at Universal.”

According to that story, “Universal is eying a shoot for as early as summer if casting can come together.”

Why is this of interest to this blog? Well, without saying so directly, THR seems to be trying to knock down stories last month from Variety and Deadline: Hollywood that Boyle is under active consideration to direct Bond 25.

Major entertainment sites, including THR, Variety, Deadline and TheWrap, often break news before it’s announced. But they are loathe to acknowledge when their competitors have a scoop unless they have to do so.

Deadline referenced Variety (which had the story first). But Deadline added that Boyle and screenwriter John Hodge had devised a Bond 25 story and that Boyle would only direct the 007 film if that story were selected. In effect, Deadline only mentioned Variety when Deadline could top the earlier story. Amusingly, Variety and Deadline share the same owner.

So, here’s the take that The Hollywood Reporter took:

Rumors swirled in February that Boyle was a candidate to direct the new James Bond movie, but that project remains in flux thanks to a stalled director search. Insiders say that this music-inspired comedy will be Boyle’s next movie. If Bond producer Eon Productions does want Boyle, it will have to wait and potentially even shift the release date of Nov. 8, 2019.

Said rumors, of course, were the Variety and Deadline stories. THR finally waded (indirectly) into Bond 25 with this new story.

Regardless, it’s a new twist. It gives Bond fans something to chew over.

UPDATE (March 3): Deadline: Hollywood also had a story about this on March 1.  But it also had this passage: “Boyle is currently balancing this project with the James Bond script he is working on with John Hodge, which Deadline lifted the lid on ten days ago.” (Link in sentence in the original Deadline story.)

New Bond 25 observations after Variety’s story

Daniel Craig in a 2000s publicity still

UPDATE (Feb. 21): Post updated to note that Variety removed mention of Annapurna Pictures from its story.

Variety is reporting that Eon Productions and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer are keen to have Danny Boyle direct Bond 25.

A few observations:

Eon’s auteur director phase may continue: Beginning with 2008’s Quantum of Solace, Eon has been enamored with “auteur” directors: Marc Forster (Quantum) and Sam Mendes (Skyfall and SPECTRE).

Employing the services of Boyle, director of Slumdog Millionaire, would continue that streak.

Over the past decade, Eon has sought more prestige for the long running Bond film series. It hired writer Peter Morgan in the early stages of pre-production of Skyfall.

Morgan had an enviable resume, including writing Frost/Nixon. But, in a 2010 interview, he seemed ambivalent about writing for Bond. ““I’m not sure it’s possible to do it.” He cited the lack of ” social reality” in Bond films Morgan exited the project but apparently he had the idea of Judi Dench’s M being killed.

Bond 25 may still be unsettled: According to Variety, when it was first posted, Boyle surfaced as a candidate after Annapurna Pictures emerged as a piece of the movie’s distribution puzzle.

In late October, MGM and Annapurna announced they were forming a joint venture to release each other’s movies. However, Bond 25 was not part of the deal.

In November, Deadline: Hollywood reported that the MGM-Annapurna joint venture was “thisclose” to securing the U.S. distribution rights to Bond 25. But MGM hasn’t confirmed that and hasn’t commented publicly at all about Bond 25 distribution.

In this week’s Variety story, there was this passage:

“Sources tell Variety that ‘White Boy Rick’ director Yann Demange was considered a top choice for the job, but after Annapurna won the distribution rights, there’s been one last push to go after a more well-known name.”

Later, Variety removed any mention of Annapurna from the story. That passage was changed to read: “Sources tell Variety that “White Boy Rick” director Yann Demange was considered a top choice for the job, but there’s been one last push to go after a more well-known name.”

The story then had this passage at the end: “UPDATED: Domestic distribution rights are currently held by MGM.”

Bond 25 financing is still a big question: With Skyfall and SPECTRE, Sony Pictures was the distributor and supplied half of the production budget. However, Sony only got 25 percent of the profits while MGM got 75 percent.

It would appear that things have changed with Bond 25. But how so remains unknown.

Is MGM more like a “big boy” studio now and actually financing Bond 25 on its own? Is MGM splitting the budget with Annapurna (assuming Annapurna becomes involved)? Will yet another studio take on the international distribution (and perhaps a portion of the production budget)?

Nobody knows. Until the financing is nailed down, Bond 25 still has a long way to go.

Danny Boyle may direct Bond 25, Variety says

Director Danny Boyle, who helmed Slumdog Millionaire as well as directing a 007-themed sequence for the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremonies, may direct Bond 25, Variety reported.

Variety reporter Justin Kroll wrote that “no formal offer has yet been made.” At the same time, Variety said, Boyle is high on the list for both Eon Productions and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which jointly control the 007 film franchise.

Boyle directed a segment for the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Summer Olympics, held in London, where Daniel Craig’s Bond escorts Queen Elizabeth to the games. Stunt doubles for Craig and the queen parachuted to the ceremonies.

“Boyle has keen interest in the project and has always wanted to direct a Bond film,” Kroll wrote. The Variety story says Annapurna Pictures “is expected to distribute.”

MGM and Annapurna announced in late October they formed a joint venture to release each other’s movies but said at that time that Bond 25 was not part of the deal.

UPDATE: Here’s the segment from the 2012 Olympics:

UPDATE II (Feb. 21): Variety later removed mention of Annapurna. It added this line: “UPDATED: Domestic distribution rights are currently held by MGM.”

Broccoli, Wilson among Variety500

Barbara Broccoli

Sorry, something that slipped by a few months ago.

Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson of Eon Productions were part of the Variety500, which the trade publication bills as “an index of the 500 most influential business leaders shaping the global $2 trillion entertainment industry.”

People in the index were “selected by the Variety editorial board, which conducted extensive research for its selections.” According to a separate announcement on Sept. 26, the list of 500 members is not ranked.

In September, Variety revamped its website. Variety500 was added as part of the redesign. The list is to be updated annually.

Michael G. Wilson

Each member has a short bio, along with links to Variety stories about them. To see Broccoli’s entry, CLICK HERE. To see Wilson’s entry, CLICK HERE.

Also in the Variety500:

— Gary Barber, CEO of MGM Studios. MGM is 007’s home studio and controls half of the franchise. Barber which led the studio out of a 2010 bankruptcy.

Megan Ellison, principal of Annapurna Pictures. Annapurna has expanded from producing films to adding a distribution operations with last year’s Detroit, a drama about the 1967 riots in that city.

In October, MGM and Annapurna announced they were forming a joint venture to release each other’s films.

For now, that deal doesn’t include Bond 25. But the distributor for the next 007 film hasn’t been announced. So it remains to be seen whether the Annapurna-MGM venture may release the movie in the U.S., as reported by Deadline: Hollywood in November.

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.