There’s no pleasure in it for me to poke holes in the latest 007 news, a story that claims Sony is about to offer Daniel Craig $150 million to return for two more films. I want nothing more than for that to be the case. Tomorrow is my birthday and the confirmation of this story would be the best present ever.
But like Harry Houdini before me, I'm honor-bound to expose dubious claims of the afterlife despite desperately wanting them to be true. So here’s what’s being reported this weekend as news by Radar Online, followed by a breakdown of the various and sundry side-eye I threw at it.
“The studio is desperate to secure the actor’s services while they phase in a younger long-term successor,” a source told Radar.
Craig, 48, “has played a genius hand,” said the source. “Everyone knows how much executives adore him, and the idea of losing him at such a crucial time in the franchise isn’t an option as far as all the studio honchos are concerned.”
“Daniel’s the key for a seamless, safe transition as far as Sony and Bond bosses are concerned, and they’re prepared to pay a king’s ransom to make it happen.”
And time is of the essence.
According to the source, Sony should be announcing any day that the studio is re-upping the distribution rights for the Bond series, meaning billions of dollars in revenue.
“Then they will shoot two more films, which will be made virtually back-to-back, preferably featuring Daniel as 007 before he passes the figurative baton to someone else for a third movie that will mark the start of the new era,” said the source.
Gosh, wouldn’t that be great? Huge if true. Not only would Craig get the chance to redeem the end of his run and break the Bond actor curse of ending on a stinker, but we at BMD could confidently post this as actual, factual news, and we would totally use this gif right now:
But we have some concerns. First red flag: Radar Online. Not sure if you’re familiar, but Radar Online is up (or down, I guess) there with the Daily Mail. Sometimes they post things that are true, but they’re not exactly the most credible primary source.
Second red flag: Sony is paying $150 million? Last we checked, Sony is no longer distributing the Bond films. If they’re renewing their deal with Eon Productions, that’s almost a more surprising development than the return of Craig. As has been widely reported, the studio had kind of a bum deal with the Bond franchise, and allegedly made less money on the billion-dollar Skyfall than producer Barbara Broccoli. As recently discussed here on BMD, there are probably some solid financial reasons for Eon retaining Craig in the process of luring a new studio (or for a new studio to pony up for his return); that the giant payday in question would come from Sony’s checkbook is a little jarring.
Third red flag: doing two films “virtually back-to-back” with Craig. (For the moment, we'll put aside the hard mathematical evidence that for the past twenty years, you can only get a good Bond film by waiting four years or more between installments.) This detail feels like one of those things where you sprinkle in some truth to make a lie seem more realistic, and indeed there were once talks of filming two 007 adventures back-to-back - namely Spectre and Bond 25. Here’s what Daniel Craig said about that back then, during the same interview in which he made his infamous "I'd rather slash my wrists" comment:
...There was a conversation at one point that went: “Let’s film two movies back to back.” I just went: “You’re out of your fucking minds.” In the nicest possible way.
So that’s a third red flag. And those are just the things to which we can concretely point. If we want to resort to gossip, as we get some distance from Spectre, I’m hearing more stories about what an unhappy experience that was for most people involved (one gossip says Craig gave his official notice to Eon in June of LAST year). And there are rumors about Eon and Sony being at each other’s throats during development and production (and spending) of Spectre, casting further doubt on the idea of Sony shelling out the aforementioned big bucks to lure back Craig.
On the other hand, it’s entirely possible that Sony is attempting to recalibrate this relationship, making a play toward keeping the franchise in-house, and that everything Radar Online has reported is true. (Note they use language like "set to offer Craig $150 million.") That still leaves the question as to whether Craig is at all interested in this deal.
So as much as we want this story to be true, it has the ring of a beautiful dream whose logic begins to unravel upon waking. We live in hope, but for now it must be a skeptical hope.