Is the James Bond curse a marketing ploy?

Is the James Bond curse a marketing ploy?_5ee33c58a0a52.jpeg

With so many reports of directors and actors leaving the new film, scripts being completely reworked, injuries and explosions, could Bond 25 really be cursed or is the production company simply seizing their opportunity for some free marketing?

Outdated culture

James Bond is often a pretty divisive character. Historically, he’s known for sipping cocktails and illicit behaviours. It’s safe to say that many younger people aren’t interested in the franchise, largely due to this lack of appeal.

The ideals are outdated, meaning Millennials who come into contact with much of the material peddled by the franchise might be shocked at the degree of sexism and racism. This could be why they’re much less interested and dismissive of the films and likely won’t be bothered about the new film when it’s eventually released.

Earlier this year, Idris Elba expressed his disappointment with the backlash he faced following rumours he could potentially replace Daniel Craig. In an interview with Vanity Fair, Elba noted that this was not due to his ability as an actor and his huge repertoire of successful roles, but was actually due to his skin colour. 

He noted that the racist backlash put him in a difficult position; if he did get the role but the movie flopped, he anticipated that there would be further criticism which would blame his ethnicity for the shortcomings.

However, Bond producer, Barbara Broccoli, backed the idea of a non-white actor taking up the role, noting that ‘it is time’

Is Bond even relevant anymore? 

Times have changed, and of course, when Sean Connery portrayed the iconic character in the sixties, his behaviours may have seemed fairly in keeping with the current social attitude. They just won’t fly now.

If Bond is going to evolve with the times, he can still be cool and respect women. He also doesn’t need to be an alcoholic, again, this isn’t really appealing to young people, or realistic. If he’s going to be any kind of effective spy, he’ll need to be on his toes, not half-cut.

In order to gain the attention of younger audiences, James Bond will need to make a u-turn and update his own personal brand. Although some might argue that his behaviours form a core part of his personality, modern society dictates that there’s no place for sexism, alcoholism and racism in anyone’s ‘Joie de Vivre’.

So about this curse…

First, the premiere date has already been moved twice, originally pegged as November 8th 2019, this was moved to February 14th 2020 then again to April 8th 2020.

Danny Boyle was announced as the director in May 2018, however, his involvement was cut short later that year, when he left the franchise due to creative differences. Reasons have varied from a disagreement over writers, producers who were less enamoured with the focus of the script and disputes over casting between Boyle and Craig

Boyle was then replaced by Cary Fukunaga. Which meant back to the drawing board for both the script and vision. 

Daniel Craig then injured his ankle on set, which meant flying back to the US for surgery and knocked filming off schedule for a fortnight. 

Multiple writers have been brought in to rework scripts, including Fleabag’s Phoebe Waller-Bridge, the second woman to ever receive a writing credit for a Bond film. The script changes were called upon to evolve the series and to ‘treat women properly’ – fancy that?! 

There have been headlines about how Rami Malek only agreed to play the lead villain character, providing there were no religious or ideological affiliations. Malek, who is of Egyptian descent, sought assurances from the director prior to signing on, likely due to the historic representation of people of colour within the films.

Bringing us on to Grace Jones, who was due to appear as a cameo role in the new film, but reportedly walked offset after discovering how few lines she has been given. Jones was reportedly under the impression that she would have a more sizable role.

Finally, it seems that some of the stunts and explosions have also gone awry, with three huge explosions tearing apart a section of the stage roof and wall panels and causing minor injuries to one of the crew members.

Curse or a ploy to get in the tabloids?

Negative news sure does spread quicker than positive news. It’s a natural human reaction to want to learn more about when things have gone wrong rather than right.

Whether the news had been leaked or been publicised, the obvious aim was to heighten anticipation for the film. There is the potential to intrigue people further by highlighting these key events to broaden the appeal, stay with me here…

New writers, better scripts, less prejudice… could this be a way to try and entice in the Millennial and Gen Z audiences who would typically shun the behaviours of the old Bond. Is this enough to get them to put their hands in their pockets and fork over their hard-earned cash to watch a franchise which typically goes against every moral fibre in their body? Is Waller-Bridges involvement enough? I’m not convinced, but time will tell.

Hot off the success of his role portraying iconic and much loved Queen frontman, Freddy Mercury, Rami Malek is likely to draw a crowd. His honest and out-spoken approach to his role solidifies that the outdated racist stereotypes of previous bad-guys are less likely to be present. This could potentially lead to clever writing which sees a modernised and more complex approach to being ‘the villain’. This move away from ‘gritty’ villains could see Malek channelling his brooding, hyper-intelligent Mr Robot persona into a truly terrifying nemesis.

Lastly, the fireballs, the accidents, the drama; is the production company trying to show that the franchise still has it? Of course, they still want to draw the adrenaline-seeking, explosion-loving fans who want all of the standard car chases, building destructions and imminent doom and it looks like the production company is desperately trying to demonstrate that the old Bond is still there, just maybe a little more woke.

Also published on Medium.


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