There’s no denying that Daniel Craig has infused a much necessary energy into the James Bond franchise since he took the reigns of the character back in 2006. Four films and a worldwide haul of $3.17 billion later, Craig has proven that the Bond franchise isn’t a remnant of the Cold War best forgotten for modern characters like Jason Bourne and Jack Reacher. Bond’s already survived fifty years on the big screen and, much akin to Sherlock Holmes, is a character that won’t simply ride off into the sunset with hat brimmed. The franchise has transformed with the times over the years, with the knack of remain fresh and topical without missing a beat. At this point in 2016, the rumor mill has been slow about any progress updates on the next Bond feature film. Well, that is, until yesterday.
For the last day plus, news outlets have been reporting that Sony offered Daniel Craig an astronomical sum of $150 million to reprise his Double-oh Seven role for two movies. Nevermind the logistics behind the scenes, the story’s been about the money and if Daniel Craig can be wooed back to play Bond for two more films before hanging up his holster. The source of this article is Radar Online, initially posting the scoop after speaking with a nameless Hollywood insider, no matter who this individual even is. The story blew up from the smallest of sites to the largest of publications. (Take notice, Fan Fest readers – we dared not to post the news.) I myself am a very serious Bond fan between the movies and the novels. As soon as I saw the news, I perused the article and immediately scratched my noggin. In just a few paragraphs, we are supposed to believe the scoop is 100% fact without a legitimate source claiming responsibility.
So I decided to do what should have been done – I went digging. When the line between fact and fiction blurs and we become absorbed in the smokescreen of gossip, we as fans need to take a step out of the cloud and inhale clean, fresh air. Despite what Radar has claimed – does their report even stand as founded truth or utter dreck? Let’s take a look at the facts as gathered upon research. (Thank you Google for the answers to the obvious questions below. Because being a good correspondent means that you do your homework first.)
Firstly, and the first tidbit to take as fact – Sony doesn’t own the franchise rights. The studio only had the distribution rights, which actually expired following the release of Spectre. Eon Productions, more specifically Danjaq Limited and MGM/UA, hold all of the movie and literary rights and likenesses to the character. Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman founded Danjaq back in 1961 prior to the lensing of Doctor No as a means to keep the Bond license close. For legal reasons Danjaq became Eon’s holding company, overseeing the copyright protections necessary to allow Eon to produce the Bond movies. Currently run by Barbara Broccoli and her step-brother Michael G. Wilson (with his sons now throw into the mix), the family wouldn’t let the rights leave their sights. Sony merely co-produced and distributed the movie internationally and barely made a penny from the deal. Their deal with Danjaq and MGM/UA had Sony putting 50% funding into each movie and covering 100% of the marketing costs. In return, Sony netted a meager 20% in profits.
As of this writing, there is also no film studio who even holds the Bond distribution rights. MGM/UA is still very much involved as part-owner of the franchise and licensing rights but with the Sony deal expiring last year, the Bond distribution rights are up for grabs by anyone – Sony, Warner Brothers, Fox, even Universal/Comcast. Eon Productions operates much like Marvel Studios or Lucasfilm. They handle all of the creative aspects in production while the film distributor simply assists with production and marketing costs. So, does Sony actually have the rights to distribution back? Highly unlikely, unless a deal was struck and never issued to the press. For a franchise that has grossed over $7 billion dollars in 54 years (not adjusted for inflation), it’s a hard sell to this Bondphile that a new distribution deal was struck without a legit news agency like Variety covering the signing.
Secondly, the $150 million dollars. An amount that extreme seems like a real head scratcher. Of course, this would be more of a bigger news story if Daniel Craig was already enlisted for one more go-round as the suave British spy. When Daniel Craig initially signed on for the role back in 2005, his deal as signed with Eon Productions was to star as the character for three films. That deal concluded when he was front and center in Skyfall, which celebrated Bond’s 50 years on the big screen. As Sam Mendes’ picture entered into post production, pundits believed that Craig would want to move on to work on smaller projects and be closer to his family. Instead, and for an undisclosed sum, Daniel Craig re-upped his contract. MI6, a leading news source with ties to Eon Productions years ago, broke the story that Craig signed on to star as James Bond for two additional movies. All he wanted in return was breathing room between filming the chapters, as the physical work was grueling and he simply wanted time to breathe.
Then, amidst the press tour for Spectre and discussing at-depth the franchise with The Hollywood Reporter, Michael G. Wilson admitted that Daniel Craig was free to do as he wished and no longer contracted. Since then, rumors have swirled who’d take over. So far? No possible suitors, just conjecture and spin based upon various thespians throwing their names in the pot. Meanwhile, the franchise still has no distributor either, though early rumors have pegged the script is being formulated quietly.
So – $150 million for two movies? Certainly not impossible. Such contracts have been inked by stars with as much drawing power as Daniel Craig. Keanu Reeves made $156 million to make The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions. Hell, Bruce Willis ran away with $100 million to star in The Sixth Sense. Again, Sony couldn’t pony up that contract without the rights in their hands. And that’s one hand the studio can’t play. I’d take it with a grain of salt, but I could maybe see Eon Productions offering a two-picture contract laced with back-end incentives versus up-front money with no monetary gains with a film pulling in paper in theaters.
Thirdly, the idea the money is being thrown at him because of his comment about “slashing my wrists” in regards to playing Bond again. This is an easy one to clarify. – the whole “slash my wrists” he made turning the Spectre press tour? His answer to that sly quip was already put onto record that he was noxious of having every reporter taken the lazy route and ask if he’d return as Bond. It was a very sardonic comment that went viral. The man needs time off to recharge. Place yourself in his shoes if you will. You have to work out daily, ingest thousands of calories just to burn them off to ensure your body is in the peak physical condition, then traverse the globe to shoot in dangerous stunts. The man’s been injured on set a couple of times during his stint as Bond, but most severely whilst filming a fight scene for Spectre. Luckily, the incident occurred prior to a filming break and Craig had arthroscopic surgery on his knee. A simple necessity such as downtime with his wife Rachel Weisz and his daughter should be a given when one is spending over a year working on a big-budget movie.
In an interview that most news sites seem to forget even occurred, Daniel Craig clarified his comments on The Today Show while winding down the Spectre press tour. During the interview Craig answered the obvious question to the hosts;
“If you’re 200 hundred yards from the end of a marathon and someone comes running up to you and says, ‘Are you gonna run another marathon?’ there’s two words you use..And not on a morning show! … I’ve had massive amounts of fun making [‘Spectre’], probably more fun on this film than I have on all of the others put together. And the simple answer at the moment is I don’t want to think about it. I want to think about other things. I want to go home. … I’ve had a wonderful, wonderful time making these movies, and maybe I’ll make another one. I don’t know.”
That hardly sounds like the irritated Craig that had to make the rounds with journalists who kept berating him with the same tired questions over and again. Holding the Bond mantle is a large honor, even only to continue the legacy and making the fans proud. We’re all guilty of making dry remarks to questions we’re tired of hearing on the daily. So, we’re supposed to believe that Sony (who doesn’t own the Bond franchise rights) offered $150 million to Daniel Craig because he’s completely over the role (and wants to “slash (his) wrists”)? Putting the story together just doesn’t seem to add up.
As Craig said – he just wanted to go home. Home is where he’s been since the 24th installment hit theaters last November. He’s doing smaller projects as a breather, one a small-budget heist flick from Steven Soderbergh and the other an Amazon television series in which he’s merely a co-star. As he’s done numerous times since he became James Bond, he’s taking a breather from action escapades and stunts and being more creative with his work. So sue the man for wanting to not be overwhelmed with franchise fatigue. (Sean Connery caught the same bug following You Only Live Twice and was begged by “Cubby” Broccoli to do one more Bond film. We won’t discuss that travesty, however.)
Of course – the next Bond installment will be the landmark 25th entry into the series. Craig would be hard pressed to pass up the kind of tale that could be spun next. While many a critic weren’t as warm to Spectre as others, I actually found the film to be quite enjoyable when paired as the second act to Skyfall. Sure, the 24th entry was far from the perfection that Sam Mendes delivered with panache in his initial installment but Spectre brought the character full circle back to the Connery incarnation of the character. And that’s quite alright with this Bond fan.
So – this Radar Online report? There’s so much hot steam rising from its words I almost wonder if their servers are housed on a manure farm. The article is hot garbage and just a merely hour’s worth of homework online has proven to me that Radar’s more full of hot air than the Hindenburg was prior to its fateful crash. Look at the kind of nonsense that Radar Online posts. Like this. Or this. Even this. Radar Online isn’t a legit news source. They are as gossip centric as US Weekly and TMZ, merely lacking credibility and passable Photoshop skills.
Oh, but don’t believe me. After all, Gossip Cop already got to the bottom of this highly absurd claim. Until Eon Productions makes any official statements on the next movie, don’t believe the next news report you see. Your best bet? Have patience. Have faith. Even amidst two bankruptcies from MGM in the early 1990’s and again in the early millennium, Bond still came back. And he always will. We just need to wait. Whatever Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson have up their sleeves, they know what they’re doing. And when Bond comes back, we’ll have all but forgotten this rubbish we’ve read in the last 24 hours. After all, we have all the time in the world.