Daniel Craig ran on a dock, hurt his ankle, and hobbled “Bond 25” for a week. Shooting on location in Jamaica, Eon Prods. is likely well protected from any short-term ill effects: That’s what production insurance is for. However, for both the 51-year-old actor who portrays James Bond and the 57-year-old franchise he services, age is now a factor.
Here are some concerns for the Bond 25 team:
This One Needs to Be a Rebound
Released in 2015, “Spectre” grossed around $900 million worldwide; its 2012 predecessor “Skyfall” made an adjusted $1.2 billion. “Spectre” still turned a profit, but that’s a 25% downward trend that needs to be reversed. Domestically, “Skyfall” was the third biggest domestic hit, behind only “Thunderball” and “Goldfinger.” However, “Spectre” did over 77% of its business overseas. Even in these days of growing foreign impact, this was particularly high — and in North America, it had the lowest gross of Craig’s Bond titles.
A Shift In Distribution
All of the prior Craig titles, from “Casino Royale” through “Spectre,” were handled by Sony, a studio with a state-of-the-art international division. Now, MGM has teamed with Annapurna to release the film through a reinvented UA. All involved are seasoned veterans on the domestic side, but don’t have the same combined international reach. Overseas is being handled by Universal, unquestionably highly qualified.
Neither entity has the institutional history with the franchise nor the singular control Sony had. Two companies are hardly a barrier; “Titanic” split distribution between Paramount domestically and original producer 20th Century-Fox. But it does task Eon as the overseer to keep the release seamless.
It’s Been a Minute
Earlier production delays pushed release to early April 2020 from fall 2019. That will mean Bond 25 will be released nearly five years after “Spectre.” That’s not the longest gap; six years passed in the transition from Timothy Dalton to Pierce Brosnan (1989-1995). But it is the longest with the same Bond, and we live in a time of ADD audiences.
We are in an era when $2 billion Marvel films with overlapping characters can open mere weeks apart. Marvel and D.C. Comics usually have multiple episodes each year. Other standalone series rarely have breaks more than three years. With audience attention divided with greater competition, and a desire for immediate gratification, five years between films is an eternity.
Bond 25 is set for April 3 overseas, April 10 domestic. It’s not the only major title that month, but it falls between three blockbuster dates: “Godzilla Vs. Kong” and “Mulan” in March, and a Marvel title dated for May 1. Bond has breathing room, but Eon has no leeway if they needed to delay a few weeks.
The film is more than 10 months from release, but that still could cut things close. Filming has been under way for about six weeks. “Spectre” started a little under 11 months from its initial dates. But any extended stoppage would make meeting the carefully chosen date difficult.
Daniel Craig and the Bond Expiration Date
As written by Ian Fleming, James Bond was in his early 30s, and didn’t age dramatically across 14 novels. Sean Connery was 32 when “Dr. No” was released in 1962 and played him until he was 41. (He returned at 53 in the separately produced “Never Say Never Again.”)
Actors playing 007 have mainly been in their 40s George Lazenby’s single shot came at 30, Roger Moore went from 46-52, Timothy Dalton 41-43, and Pierce Brosnan 42-49.
Of course, we live in an era when senior citizenry is being redefined. Post-heart surgery, Mick Jagger is 75 and starting dance therapy to prepare for the Rolling Stones’ next tour. Joe Biden is running for president at 76; Bernie Sanders, at 77. Tom Cruise is 56 has two more “Mission: Impossible” entries planned.
But though Craig’s sprinting injury could happen at any age, at 51 it’s a reminder that the actor portrays one of the most physical active characters in the history of film, and it’s key to much of the series’ appeal. So apart from the need to literally get him back on his feet, there’s PR value in minimizing any damage done.
Meanwhile, the publicity serves as free advance marketing, and the interest shows the public still cares about James Bond movie as the continue late in its sixth decade.