Though it would seem that the recent Amazon/MGM acquisition wouldn’t be a creative stumbling block for the James Bond franchise, there are some who aren’t so easily convinced. With Amazon now acting as half owners of the 007 legacy, the other half belongs to Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson through their company, EON Productions. It’s their half that has the final say on all things Bond, and in the opinion of Skyfall writer John Logan, that fact is now more important than ever, and he has the story to prove it.
In a reaction to the big MGM purchase made for $8.45 billion, John Logan took to writing an op-ed piece for The New York Times. The major gist of his worrisome outlook on Amazon’s ownership comes down to the fact that Logan feels the e-commerce giant/streaming provider is going to try and exercise more creative control over the James Bond series. It's a decision that he feels would prevent scenarios such as the one depicted in this Skyfall anecdote:
Sam Mendes, the director, and I marched into Barbara and Michael’s office, sat at the family table and pitched the first scene between Bond and the villain, Raoul Silva. Now, the moment 007 first encounters his archnemesis is often the iconic moment in a Bond movie, the scene around which you build a lot of the narrative and cinematic rhythms. (Think about Bond first meeting Dr. No or Goldfinger or Blofeld, all classic scenes in the franchise.) Well, Sam and I boldly announced we wanted to do this pivotal scene as a homoerotic seduction. Barbara and Michael didn’t need to poll a focus group. They didn’t need to vet this radical idea with any studio or corporation — they loved it instantly. They knew it was fresh and new, provocative in a way that keeps the franchise contemporary. They weren’t afraid of controversy. In my experience, not many big movies can work with such freedom and risky joy. But with the Broccoli/Wilson family at the helm, Bond is allowed to provoke, grow and be idiosyncratic. Long may that continue.
Undoubtedly the introduction of Javier Bardem’s villain in Skyfall is one of the reasons why the film is such a beloved entry in Daniel Craig’s James Bond arc. Not only is Silva one of, if not the best Bond villain in the entire catalog of maniacs, he’s also a groundbreaker with his outward wooing of 007 during a semi-interrogation. If John Logan’s opinion is anything to go by, the traditional standards of focus groups and studio interference might have ditched that scene in a heartbeat.
There’s definitely room to discuss what the Amazon/MGM era will look like when it comes to James Bond, especially when the last time a corporate buyout interfered with the works, we saw six year pass without a new Bond film. By the time the legal debacle at the end of the ‘80s was settled, Timothy Dalton made way for Pierce Brosnan, and world geopolitics changed rather drastically. So if there’s any sort of friction cause by how Barbara Broccoli and EON Productions want to handle the 007 series in a post-Daniel Craig era, it could lead to another unexpected hiatus.
By the numbers, EON Productions and Danjaq LLC have been good stewards of Ian Fleming’s literary creation. Ever since Albert “Cubby” Broccoli and Harry Saltzman revved up the engines of the cinematic Aston Martin that is James Bond, the company has kept the British end up for almost 60 years with consistent excitement. It’s one of the many things Amazon should keep in mind as it starts to look over how it wants to manage MGM’s portfolio of titles, as moments like that playful introduction in Skyfall are part of what makes 007 someone to watch after all this time.
Of course, to get to the next era of James Bond history, we’ll have to first close out the current arc. That will happen once Daniel Craig officially says goodbye to the role, which will happen both when his replacement is cast and when No Time To Die makes its official rounds after its theatrical premiere. Currently set to part the curtain on September 30 in the UK and October 8 in the US, the 25th James Bond movie is now even more of an anticipated event, as it will be the precipice from which the next chapter of the Bond saga will spring forth.