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Category:    Home > Essays > Filmmaking > Film Business > News > A Word About The James Bond Films In Hiatus…

A Word About The James Bond Films In Hiatus…


There have been several reports and other really sad and pathetic stories (we will not call them analysis, because that would mean the writers/authors would actually know what they are talking about) about how the Bond films might be finished.  It is built on total misunderstandings of the series, its current situation and its fate to come.


The series is at one of its greatest high points as Daniel Craig has become the most popular and successful Bond critically and commercially since Roger Moore, so yes, there will be more films and any actor to make it to a third Bond always found that films to be one of their biggest and most successful outings.  The hold up is not that the Bond producers are out of money, but that distributor MGM is in trouble and transition, so they cannot fund their part of it.  Billions of dollars in debt, they filed for bankruptcy reorganization after a takeover a few years ago by a partnership of companies did not work out despite the company owning all the MGM films since 1987, the Orion catalog, the American International catalog, some other indie gems and the United Artists catalog which they still have from being merged as MGM/UA in 1980 when Michael Cimino’s ambitious Heaven’s Gate (1980) caused UA to fold.


When that happened, the late great producer Albert “Cubby” Broccoli took action to secure the promotion of For Your Eyes Only and MGM/UA still distributed.  The result was a huge hit that continued the series, remains one of the best films it ever produced and helped MGM/UA when they needed the money most.  As the company changed hands many times since, Bond was the prize franchise, even when it seemed it might end.  After U.S. distribution of Licence To Kill (1989) did not produced the big box-office the film found overseas due to political differences to involved to go into here, The Cold War ended, the producers and studio had additional disagreements over how rights were sold for TV in some markets and except for the animated series James Bond Jr., Bond was gone for six years until GoldenEye (1995) revived the series, even as other Spy franchises were being launched by major studios.


Now Craig is Bond and is still under contract and is still well within the age range (and physical shape, he is making other films as you reads this, so his career is not on hold either), still wants to play the role and the public still wants him big time.  If anything, this delay will only make the next Bond film an event like Dark Knight or Avatar or other recent mega-hits were, but for totally reasons different than those international blockbusters.


For instance, Quantum Of Solace (which had more working for it than many have given it credit for) was the most expensive Bond yet in a series that often sets new records for its budgets in the tradition “Cubby” Broccoli and his original partner Harry Saltzman (who produced all the way to the 1974 release The Man With The Golden Gun before he sold out his half of the series, but to United Artists and not his former partner, whose family revived the series and have kept it alive since) except in those cases where they decide to do gritty thrillers, which is why I think the curiosity will be especially huge on Craig/Bond #3.


The third films (Goldfinger, The Spy Who Loved Me, even the awful The World Is Not Enough) were budget-busting big productions that were also popular, profitable worldwide hits, yet the Craig Bond films have relished being grittier with less gadgets, yet still keeping the glamour and classiness that the series is famous for.  I have seen the series go through so many changes and as even Steven Spielberg admits, it is the greatest franchise of all time.  Why?  Because it took the movie series from Hollywood B-movies to the A-level releases we get all the time today.


No spy or action series has ever lasted as long, had as much of an influence and Bond has rarely followed any imitators, though occasionally (as a sign of respect) absorbed some of their qualities.  The Bond films continue to be a huge hit, constantly play somewhere in the world on TV all the time, constantly sell on home video (the Blu-rays are the latest profitable success), the films still play movie theaters including revival houses, memorabilia continues to sell well with the best pieces setting record prices (the original complete remaining Aston Martin DB5 from Goldfinger just sold for $4.6 Million, a record price for a movie memorabilia item and besides the car’s fame, it is now one of the most valuable cars of any kind in the world!) and the books continue to make writer/creator Ian Fleming one of the most popular fiction writers since Agatha Christie.  Unlike most franchises, Bond is not just about the movies, though they play a great part.


Instead, Bond is about a school of thought, a way of life, an international sensation almost 50 years old that has never gone away.  The fact that he could be reinvented after The Cold War and come back as big as ever speaks volumes to the richness of the phenomenon.  This is not a franchise that is at its end by a long shot and interest is not fleeting in the least.  Instead, Bond is alive and well and with the huge profits at stake, it is only a matter of time before a new film is finally made.  And when (not if, but when) that happens, every so-called expert will not look as smart as they think they are and we’ll have another Bond film to see.


The only question is, will it be a gritty thriller or will they go all out for a big budget blockbuster that will put Bondmania well into the 21st Century?  Can’t wait to find out?  Just hang on!



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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