While No Time to Die producer Barbara Broccoli admitted today that the stewards of the 007 franchise don’t yet know how James Bond will return after Daniel Craig’s swansong as the super secret agent, she did allow, “We’ll figure that one out, but he will be back. You can rest assured James Bond will be back.”
Broccoli was speaking Saturday at Deadline’s Contenders Film: New York event joined virtually by fellow producer Michael G Wilson as well as co-star Rami Malek, special effects supervisor Chris Corbould and production designer Mark Tildesley.
MGM/Eon/Universal’s Cary Joji Fukunaga-directed No Time to Die went through four release-date changes amid the pandemic and had its world premiere September 28 at London’s Royal Albert Hall before opening to $113 million overseas. Its North American rollout began in early October.
In mid-November, it became the biggest Hollywood title of 2021 and the pandemic worldwide, and had grossed $756M through last Sunday, and it was vital to the team to ensure the movie was seen on the big screen.
Said Broccoli, “What was so important to us was that this film be shown in the cinemas because it has this beautiful landscape… It’s a visual feast in the way it’s been designed and shot. We’re just so thrilled we were able to open in cinemas.”
Added Wilson, “We’re so lucky that we hit the sweet spot and got it in the cinemas at the right time and the public was ready to go back to the cinema again and see films where they deserve to be, in the theater.”
No Time To Die kicks off in its opening sequence in a different fashion to previous Bonds, telling the backstory of Léa Seydoux’s Madeleine and introducing Malek’s villain Lyutsifer Safin. Broccoli credited Fukunaga with coming up with the idea which she called “very successfully done.” Noted Wilson, “It took us a while to get into the film — and 25 minutes before the titles, which is, I suppose, a record for us — but I think it earned it because you needed that backstory to really tell the full story of the film.”
For Malek, who called the Bond franchise “essentially the backbone of our cinematic history,” getting into the headspace of Safin was “quite difficult. I usually just try to find some way in through empathy and sympathy and finding a way into that person’s moral compass and it was quite difficult with Safin. I think, fortunately, we don’t share very similar DNA. So, it felt like a stretch and that was fun. I love a transformation and that’s what it felt like. I had to be almost the opposite of what Daniel was bringing, the antithesis of that, so that was a bit of a North Star in my own way as well.”
He also said of the opening scene, “Being on an ice lake in Norway that’s about to melt at any second, it doesn’t get more intense than that.”
Speaking to marrying the action set pieces with the emotional undercurrent of the story, Corbould said, “It’s really important to keep all the action reality based. On the James Bond films we’ve always had that mantra that we would not get too fantastical, but that’s what we achieved… the DB5 chase, the end sequence, the sinking trawler, it was all really powerful stuff and it’s really important the special effects are not fantastical and don’t take us out of the script and the characters.”
Added Tildesley, “I think the difficult or interesting thing is to try and weave the two things together so you have a set or an effect that helps enhance the story rather than just for the sake of it.” He pointed to the sequence in Matera, Italy as “an extraordinary stunt, but it’s incredibly tense at the same time. It’s telling a story about betrayal and all those things, nail biting and brilliant and trying to find those connections.”
No Time to Die marks Craig’s his fifth and final turn as Agent 007. After retiring from active service and heading to Jamaica, Bond receives a letter from an old friend at the CIA requesting his help finding a missing person. A simple search turns into the most dangerous mission the superspy has faced, with a mysterious new villain in Safin. The cast also includes Seydoux, Lashana Lynch, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Winshaw, Naomie Harris, Rory Kinnear, Jeffrey Wright, Billy Magnussen and Christoph Waltz.
Check out the panel video above.