An Oscar-nominated screenwriter who wrote two James Bond films has begged Amazon’s Jeff Bezos not to interfere in the creative processes of his newly acquired spy franchise.
John Logan, 59, who also received Academy Award nominations for Gladiator, The Aviator and Hugo, said he felt a cold when he learned that Amazon had bought MGM Studios for $8.45 billion last week.
Logan says he fears Amazon might try to interfere with the series’ violent plots, or even push for spin-off series that could water down the Bond brand.
Writing a guest essay for the for New York TimesLogan said the Bond films were a “family business” carefully nurtured by producers Barbara Broccoli, whose late father Albert “Cubby” Broccoli is believed to be the mastermind behind the success of the long-running franchise, and her half-brother Michael Wilson.
Logan said Bond’s lasting appeal was that it had protected the Bond character “through the thicket of moviemaking and the changing tastes of audiences.”
Logan acknowledged that the Amazon-MGM deal contained “strong guarantees of continued artistic control,” but questioned what guarantees there were that it would remain in effect.
John Logan, 59, who wrote the screenplay for Skyfall and Specter, starring Daniel Craig, above, has warned Amazon doesn’t want to exert artistic control over the James Bond franchise.
“What happens when a company like Amazon starts demanding a vote in the process? What happens to the camaraderie and quality control when there’s an Amazon overlord with analytics dissecting every decision? What happens when a focus group reports that they don’t like Bond drinking martinis? Or kill a lot of people?’
And he begged the studio’s new tech rulers, “Please let 007 drink his martinis in peace. Don’t shake it, don’t stir it.’
Broccoli and Wilson inherited the production rights from Albert in 1995. They have maintained the franchise through films starring Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Crag.
007 movies remain so popular that movie directors are hoping the latest installment, No Time To Die, will reinvigorate the COVID-ravaged cinema industry when it releases in November after multiple pandemic delays.
Writing a guest essay in the New York Times, Logan attributed the longevity and success of the 007 film franchise to the creative license afforded by the family business.
Logan begged Amazon, “Please let 007 finish his martinis in peace. Don’t shake it, don’t stir it’
Logan has been nominated three times for an Oscar for screenplays for The Gladiator, Hugo and The Aviator
The rights to the Bond films were shared by MGM and Eon Productions, owned by the half-siblings. MGM’s stake now goes to Amazon, but Broccoli and Wilson will keep a tight rein on the creative side, from plot to director and who gets to play the friendly MI6 agent, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Barbara Broccoli was on set almost every day during the filming of the most recent episode, No Time to Die, and chose Daniel Craig as Pierce Brosnan’s successor.
Craig will leave the franchise after No Time To Die is released, and Broccoli will also choose his successor.
“We are committed to continuing to make James Bond films for global theater audiences,” the half-siblings said in a statement this week.
Wilson and Broccoli are so senior at MGM that they were made aware of the sales days before it was completed, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Amazon CEO Mike Hopkins, who conducted the negotiations, personally contacted the couple to reassure them that their property was in good hands.
Jen Salke, Amazon’s head of original content, already has a relationship with Broccoli that is believed to help ease the transition.
The pair have reportedly resisted previous advances from studio executives looking to make a TV spin-off.
Logan, who also won a Tony Award for Best Play for Red in 2010, wrote the screenplay for 2012’s Skyfall, which grossed $1.1 billion at the Box Office, and the 2015 sequel, Specter, which grossed $880 million. .
The 24 Bond films released since Sean Connery starred in Dr. No, have collected nearly $7 billion at the global box office.
Logan wrote in the New York Times that the creative process of working with the Broccoli and Wilson was different from other films he had worked on.
Work sessions on ‘Skyfall’ and ‘Spectre’ were like lively discussions around the dinner table, with Barbara Broccoli and her half-brother Michael Wilson letting all the unruly children speak.
“Every crazy aunt or eccentric uncle got a vote. We discussed and debated and came to a solution, as families should do, without outside voices in the room.’
Logan said that when he and director Sam Mendes pitched an idea to Broccoli and Wilson to create a “homorotic” scene between Bond and the villainous Raoul Silva, played by Javier Bardem, in Skyfall, they immediately agreed.
“They didn’t have to research this radical idea at any studio or company – they instantly loved it. They knew it was fresh and new, provocative in a way that keeps the franchise contemporary. They weren’t afraid of controversy.’
Bond had chased a number of terrifying enemies, both real and fictional, in the past, including “the Cold War, Goldfinger, Jaws, disco and Ernst Stavro Blofeld, multiple times,” Logan wrote.
He hoped the ‘powers that be at Amazon’ would appreciate Bond’s ‘uniqueness’ and allow the family business to continue ‘unfettered’.
“Bond is not ‘satisfied’ and he is not just another commodity,” Logan wrote.
Daniel Craig poses with Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson as he is revealed as the new James Bond in 2005
Barbara Broccoli attends the world premiere of the new Bond movie ‘Casino Royale’, Odeon Leicester Square (left) and Jeff Bezos attends Amazon Prime Video’s Golden Globe Awards After Party at the Beverly Hilton Hotel
Logan has been nominated for three Academy Awards for screenwriting, including Best Original Screenplay for The Gladiator
Daniel Craig plays James Bond in 2012’s Skyfall