The Year Ahead
8th January 2018
How did 2017 treat Bond fans and what to look for in the next 12 months
By MI6 Staff
In the golden era of following 007, even when there wasn't a Bond picture in production or slated for release, aficionados could watch for a bevy of product releases, or events. Now with the films on a three or four-year cycle, there’s plenty of downtime. 2017 marked one of the quieter years on record, with the will-he-wont-he of Daniel Craig’s decision-making and his ultimate return to the role, topping out as one of the major touchstones of the year.
In late 2016, Big Chief took over the licence to create lifelike figures of major characters and actors from the Bond series. They unveiled their first 1:6 scale figures with a flourish, and these wound up on Bond collector’s Christmas wish lists but with a hefty price tag. They shipped some eight months after opening pre-order in February 2017 but news has still yet to slip about the ship date of the fabled Sir Roger Moore in ‘Live and Let Die’ figure, held back after his sad and sudden passing last year.
Whilst the Big Chief line might be out of many people’s budget, the more modest miniatures, Funko Pop, introduced a line of Bond ‘bobbleheads’ including Blofeld, Odd Job and 007 himself. These are slated to ship in January – popularity pending, be on the lookout for more comical characterisations from the Bond oeuvre in 2018.
News emerged early in 2017 that Sony had rivals for the distribution rights to Bond when an unnamed Chinese firm looked to buy MGM. The production on Bond 25 crept along despite the uncertainty about distribution and the mayor of Dubrovnik confirmed he had been in talks with EON about a possible shoot in Croatia.
The charming and surprising George Lazenby documentary, ‘Becoming Bond’, debuted in March on Hulu to positive reviews and Dynamite, the comic book licence-holders continued to deliver original Bond adventures in pictorial form at a reliable pace, announcing ‘James Bond: Service’ and ‘Black Box’ in Q1 2017. Some of their attempts at spin-offs or longer-form products (think the ‘Moneypenny’ and ‘Felix’ spin-offs, ‘Casino Royale’) were met with mixed responses or tied up in re-writes. Despite a reasonably prolific number of publications and some big-name comic book authors associated with the Dynamite project, comic book sales continued a down-hill sales trend; a trend established ever since they published the first licenced story, VARGR, in 2015.
IFP commissioned Anthony Horowitz – who received praise for his original 2015 continuation novel, ‘Trigger Mortis’ – confirmed he had been given more unseen Fleming material to draw from in the composition of the plot for his yet-untitled sequel. Throughout the year, Horowitz posted cryptic progress reports to his twitter account, confirming in mid-December that he had finished a draft of what he was calling ‘Bond 2’. Ian Fleming Publications will return to the traditional Bond publisher, Jonathan Cape, after ‘Trigger Mortis’ was published by Orion. The book is slated for a release in Spring.
Steady too were the releases of the beautifully-illustrated folio editions of Ian Fleming’s classic Bond adventures. With London artist Faye Dalton continuing her illustrations, The Folio Society announced illustrated editions of ‘Dr No' in August and ‘Moonraker’ in October.
Elsewhere in the literary sphere Steve Cole wrapped up his duties as the steward of Young Bond, publishing his fourth adventure, ‘Red Nemesis’. The novel introduced a number of new characters to Bond’s world and played on the old enemy, the Soviet Union.
In the summer 2017, EON officially announced that 007 would be back in Bond 25, hitting US screens November 8, 2019 – expect a traditional UK premiere and release date prior. They also confirmed that “long time collaborators” Neal Purvis and Robert Wade would once again swoop back into their role as co-screenwriters. Although Purvis and Wade had every intention of handing off 007 penmanship duties to others at the end of the successful ‘Skyfall’, the pair were wooed back once more to polish John Logan’s ‘SPECTRE’.
Craig conned all the world’s media doing press for ‘Logan Lucky’. In almost every case, he was asked about his expected return to Bond and in all but one did he fool his interviewer, insisting that he had not made the decision. Stephen Colbert was the lucky journo, who, on his ‘Late Show’ quizzed Craig about a return. He admitted in August on the talk show that he’d been committed to the production since June and befuddled journalists since then.
Meanwhile in Solden, the sleepy alpine settlement which was a feature of ‘SPECTRE’, it was announced that the locale would be the new home of an avant-garde installation/exhibit with artwork curated by the art director of Craig’s Bond films, Neal Callow. The exhibit, titled 007 Elements, opens this winter.
The last four months of the year were dominated by speculation about a directorial choice for Bond 25. With all who follow the intricacies of the filmmaking process aware that it would be unlikely for Sam Mendes (‘Skyfall’, ‘SPECTRE’) to return, Barbara Broccoli and her team turned to scouting young talent. Denis Villeneuve (‘Blade Runner 2049’) has been the most vocal about his talks with Broccoli, specifically explaining he had no room in his schedule as he had committed to developing a big screen adaptation of the sci-fi classic, ‘Dune’. Other names in the hat were Frenchman Yann Demange (‘71’), and Scots David Mackenzie (‘Hell or High Water’).
2018 will offer the confirmation of EON’s decision on director – although don’t expect it to be anyone you’ve heard was on a short list – and many more rumours (some even credible) about locations and casting. All being well EON will hold their traditional Pinewood kick-off press conference toward the end of the year, possibly as late as mid-December after reshoots on ‘Solo’ pushed back the availability of studio space at the spiritual home of 007. The EON family will regroup at Pinewood this year (2018) and decisions and announcements forthcoming.
The release of Horowitz’s Bond novel is likely to be a touchstone in an otherwise lean year for 007 fans, whilst Dynamite ploughs on with their newest release, ‘James Bond: The Body’, coming later this month.
2018 is also forecast to be a leaner year than last as far as milestones are concerned. Whilst we celebrated 'Tomorrow Never Dies', 'You Only Live Twice' and 'The Spy Who Loved Me' the only major cinematic milestone for 2018 is the oft-derided 'Quantum of Solace', which will be ten years old in October. Meanwhile 'From Russia With Love', 'Live And Let Die' and 'Octopussy' celebrate lesser milestones of 55, 45 and 35 respectively. In the literary world, this year marks the 60th anniversary of Fleming’s 'Dr No' whilst John Gardner’s ‘Scorpius’ turns 30 and ‘The Facts of Death’ hits 20.
MI6 Confidential continues to serve a dedicated group of 007 aficionados width five magazines each year. 2018 will be little different. Each magazine is carefully crafted, rich in content and exclusive interviews, and illustrated with rare and wonderful imagery. The only regularly published James Bond magazine in the world will also continue to publish an annual special: a limited edition, perfect bound, 100-page magazine, honing in on one particular facet of the franchise. Readers who subscribe to receive all five issues save 20% off the cover price of the magazine.
This year will likly offer collectors more of the same, with Funko Pop, Big Chief, Dynamite, and Folio Society continuing to service their markets. A special highlight must be Moore’s ‘Live and Let Die’ diary, which is due for a reprint in June. Sir Roger’s poignantly-titled ‘À bientôt' was released posthumously last year.
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The opinions expressed in this review are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of MI6-HQ.com or its owners.