The James Bond musings churn on. We do too.
The announcement this morning that Entertainment Weekly would next week be taking on the fate of the new James Bond movie -- on the cover, no less -- in a piece subtitled "The Inside Story of How the 007 is Falling Apart -- And the Battle to Save It" prompted thoughts that the mag has finally unlocked the key to the franchise's future.
Alas, Benjamin Svetkey's piece (which isn't online yet) doesn't come to any hard conclusions (although there's a fabulously entertaining throwaway about an MGM executive proposing that Eddie Murphy play the part, a suggestion not welcomed by Bond producers/gatekeepers Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson of EON Productions).
The story mostly recounts the recent history of the rejuvenated franchise, the high hopes that a movie would have already been shooting and the MGM-related financial issues why it hasn't. "For Bond fans, these reports are as ominous as a laser pointed at a groin," Svetkey says of all the stories (including, presumably, his own) about indefinite delays on the next movie.
The piece did engender some grousing from more jaded quarters. "James Bond killed by slow news week," snapped Movieline, suggesting that the consternation over delays is overblown given how franchises such as Batman, Indiana Jones and Star Wars came back stronger than ever after a long layoff.
We suppose this would be a good time to say we have our own bring-our-readers-up-to-speed story in tomorrow's paper (you can read it online here). So, yes, we're part of the problem.
The most interesting piece of info we came across is that the delays are not all about MGM's finances, as much of the coverage has focused on. There are script issues too. Director Sam Mendes was brought in to do some rewriting (he was polishing Peter Morgan, who himself was polishing Neal Purvis and Robert Wade). But all the creative people and EON didn't see eye-to-eye on the direction the script should take, which, compounded by the financial issues, has contributed to a delay that's made everyone scatter to the wind (Mendes to "On Chesil Beach," Daniel Craig to "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo").
Also interestingly, EON usually develops a Bond script and sends it to the particular studio releasing the movie after they're satisfied with it. They haven't done that yet here.
Of course, script-related delays don't necessarily signal trouble. In fact, they often mean the opposite: the desire to get it right. Anyone who would criticize filmmakers for tinkering too much on the new Bond movie might want to recall that it was precisely deliberateness and a little extra work that many felt was missing in "Quantum of Solace," which was by many accounts hurried into production after the writers strike.
There's little question we'll see a Bond movie sooner or later -- EON has too much at stake, and even if the script gets rewritten and rethought -- heck, even if the delays wear on long enough that someone other than Craig ends up in the title role -- there's every reason in the world to make a new one at some point. Until then, we'll have the Bond articles to read. And write.
-- Steven Zeitchik
'Photo: Daniel Craig and Olga Kurylenko in "Quantum of Solace." Credit: MGM
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