Dame Judi Dench's final turn as James Bond's boss M has helped movie mogul Harvey Weinstein win an appeal to lower the age rating for the actress' new film. The Brit brought her Skyfall character back from the dead for a skit aimed at winning over bosses at the Motion Picture Association of America's Classification and Ratings Administration Board, who had slapped a restrictive 'R' rating on her film Philomena.
The ruse has now paid off as executives at The Weinstein Co. have won their appeal to land a family-friendly PG-13 rating.
Producers argued that the film's two 'f' words did not warrant an 'R' rating.
The film's star Steve Coogan joined TWC executives at the appeals hearing in Los Angeles on Wednesday (13Nov13).
A jubilant Weinstein says, "We owe this victory to Barbara Broccoli, producer of the James Bond series, Daniel Craig and Sam Mendes who because of their relationship with Judi Dench gave permission to spoof the ratings system using the M character.
"We know that went a long way into shedding light on the themes of the movie and the fact that the PG-13 rating was correct. We are glad the MPAA has a good sense of humour and, with the co-operation of Barbara and her team, it was proven once again no one does it better than James Bond. And my sincerest congratulations to Steve Coogan, who went to the MPAA and defended the case personally."
Coogan also wrote the screenplay for the film, about an Irish woman on a hunt for the son who was adopted as a child without her permission.
Dame Judi Dench has brought her James Bond character M back from the dead to appeal a restrictive U.S. rating for her new movie Philomena. The British acting icon portrayed the head of the Secret Intelligence Service MI6 in seven of the Bond films, until she was killed off in 2012's Skyfall.
However, Dench has revisited one of her most famous roles for a campaign video as part of producer Harvey Weinstein's bid to convince censors at the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to lower the 'R' rating for Philomena, a true story about a Catholic woman who tries to track down the son she was forced to give up for adoption at birth.
During a TV appearance in America on Thursday (07Nov13), Weinstein debuted a clip of the video, in which Dench appears in her late character's London office and quips, "Just when you thought I was dead..." She then begins to detail a new job for a mystery agent, stating, "I have an important mission for you. Are you familiar with MPAA?"
Weinstein reveals he sought the permission of Bond bosses before shooting the video, explaining, "With the blessing of Barbara Broccoli and the Bond team, M has returned from the dead to fight this battle. The appeal is on Wednesday, and M has risen from the dead."
The Hollywood producer is determined to win a revised PG-13 rating for the emotional drama to allow children over 13 to see the film without parental guidance, because he is convinced there is nothing offensive in the movie.
He says, "There are two F-words in the movie - you're allowed one F (for a PG-13 rating)... The movie is the gentlest, most wonderful true story, filled with humour and joy. They should just put 'PG-13 strong language' on this and make an exception."
Dench's co-star Steve Coogan also features in the campaign video, which will premiere in full on the comedy website FunnyorDie.com.
Philomena is scheduled for release in the U.S. later this month (Nov13).
Weinstein has become a regular MPAA visitor in recent years and won a ratings appeal in 2010 after movie bosses gave his film The Kings Speech a hard R rating. He also challenged them over the NC-17 rating of another movie, Blue Valentine.
The brother and sister team behind the James Bond franchise are to be honoured with the 2014 David O. Selznick Achievement Award at the Producers Guild Awards in January (14). Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli will join the likes of movie icons Stanley Kramer, Saul Zaentz, Clint Eastwood, Billy Wilder, Brian Grazer, Jerry Bruckheimer, Roger Corman, Steven Spielberg and Laura Ziskin, who have previously picked up the prestigious prize.
Announcing the news on Wednesday (30Oct13), PGA Awards co-chairs Lori McCreary and Michael De Luca released a joint statement that read: "Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli are the driving force behind one of the most cherished franchises in the history of film. Thanks to the consistency and steadfastness of their creative vision, generations of moviegoers have been able to share the adventures of one of our iconic heroes. We look forward to their continuing to bring thrilling exploits and cinematic masterpieces to audiences worldwide, and we are delighted to honor them with this year's David O. Selznick Achievement Award."
British actor Idris Elba has spoken out to dismiss growing speculation he will replace Daniel Craig as the next James Bond. Current 007 Craig has a five-picture deal with Bond bosses and is expected to step down from the role in the next few years, and his Skyfall co-star Naomie Harris fuelled speculation about Elba being lined up as a possible replacement when she revealed The Wire star had met with producer Barbara Broccoli.
However, Elba is adamant stories about secret meetings and contracts is just gossip.
He tells Britain's Daily Mirror, "It's just a rumour - but what a compliment. I'm flattered by the notion of it. I'm also encouraged that audiences are being more colour-blind these days."
If Elba does land the role, he will make history as the first black James Bond.
Sam Mendes is returning to the director's chair for the follow-up to his hit James Bond epic Skyfall. Mendes insisted he would not be back for the 24th film in the 007 franchise after the 2012 release of Skyfall, which became the most successful movie in James Bond history, but he recently admitted he wouldn't make a final decision about the job until after the premiere of his new West End play Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Now Mendes is hoping to continue his winning streak after signing on to helm the next Bond project, set to be released in the U.K. on 23 October, 2015.
Skyfall scribe John Logan will also return to pen the script, while Daniel Craig will reprise his role as the British superspy.
A statement from Mendes reads, "I am very pleased that by giving me the time I need to honour all my theatre commitments, the producers have made it possible for me to direct Bond 24. I very much look forward to taking up the reins again, and to working with Daniel Craig, Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli for a second time."
Sam Mendes has confirmed reports suggesting he is in talks to direct the follow-up to hit Bond film Skyfall. The moviemaker insisted he would not be back for Bond 24 shortly after the release of the last film in the 007 film franchise, which became the most successful in series history - but now it appears he's softening to offers from producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson.
At the London premiere of his new theatrical reworking of Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on Tuesday (25Jun13), Mendes revealed he hasn't ruled out a return to the world of Bond.
Asked if he would be making the next Bond film, he said, "I don't know yet. I'm in discussions over the 'B' word (Bond), and I won't make a decision until this (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) is open."
The only certainty about the new Bond movie is Daniel Craig will be back as the superspy, while reports suggest Penelope Cruz is being courted as a Bond girl. Cruz is married to Javier Bardem, who played villain Silva in Skyfall.
Batman trilogy director Christopher Nolan is reportedly in early talks to take charge of the next James Bond movie. According to Britain's Daily Mail, the filmmaker is in the middle of "informal talks" with Bond producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson.
But insiders claim the negotiations aren't aimed at Nolan directing the follow-up to Skyfall; they're more geared towards ideas for the Bond 24 film and beyond.
A source tells longtime Mail correspondent Baz Bamigboye, "It does no harm for Broccoli and Wilson to talk with Nolan, even if nothing happens this time round."
When Hollywood.com visited the set of Skyfall in May of 2012, director Sam Mendes described his vision with excitement and trepidation. With a filmography comprised of mostly smaller, character-driven films, it was the first time the American Beauty director would step up to do a full-blown action movie. And in a franchise he loved: Mendes gushed over Bond like any die hard fan would. As we learned when the movie arrived in theaters later last year, he was exactly what the franchise needed. Skyfall amounted to one of the best 007 missions in the character's history.
After Skyfall's mega-success — the movie took over $1.1 billion worldwide and is now the seventh highest grossing film of all time — many believed producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson would woo Mendes back for a second round. With screenwriter John Logan reportedly returning to pen the next entry, a second go for the Skyfall director became more and more of a possibility. But in a bittersweet move, it now appears that Mendes will put Bond aside to pursue other projects.
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“It has been a very difficult decision not to accept Michael and Barbara’s very generous offer to direct the next Bond movie," Mendes explains to Empire Magazine."Directing Skyfall was one of the best experiences of my professional life, but I have theatre and other commitments, including productions of Charlie And The Chocolate Factory and King Lear, that need my complete focus over the next year and beyond."
Like many previous Bond directors, Mendes made sure to keep the door open for his possible return to the series ("[I] very much hope I have a chance to work with them again sometime in the future"), but Empire confirmed with Broccoli and Wilson that the search for a replacement is now very much on. Who will take the reins after Skyfall's critical and financial success? While many look straight to the blockbuster filmmakers who define the modern era — your Spielbergs, your Nolans, your Whedons — here are six of our suggestions of directors could hit the high bar set by Mendes, but in diverse new ways. Skyfall was brilliant, but the prospect of a fresh entry is unequivocally exciting.
The Zero Dark Thirty director is at the top of her game after seeing two politically-driven films nominated for a wealth of Oscars, and more importantly, the raves of audiences across the globe. She's one of the most ferocious action directors working today and, while her recent work rips its ideas from the headlines, she has experience working with pulpier material (we can't be the only ones still watching Point Break on a monthly basis). Bigelow would effectively continue the realistic edge established by Skyfall, which used cyber-terror and the morality of spy work as a catalyst for its adventure.
Nicolas Winding Refn
When Daniel Craig stepped into the shoes of 007 for Casino Royale, director Martin Campbell took the stunts to even bigger heights. Mendes took the opposite approach: Skyfall has plenty of action, but it is intimate to claustrophobic levels. Drive director Refn has been eyeing up Hollywood blockbusters — he recently bowed out of a remake of Logan's Run starring regular collaborator Ryan Gosling — and he shares Mendes' sensibility for the small-scale. Drive isn't an action movie, it just feels like one. It doesn't shy away from the shocking, the twisted, or the grisly. We don't need an R-rated James Bond movie, but a director unafraid to challenge convention and character tropes is exactly what the series needs to do to keep itself on its toes.
RELATED: Why Isn't There a Female Equivalent of James Bond?
Alfredson's Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy was a slow burn spy movie — maybe a bit too slow for its own good. But what it gets right is the terrifying prospect of being too deep, lost in a sea of facts, and the mind games that come with solving an internal mystery. As Bond continues to develop as a character (a new approach in the Craig-era), Alfredson could leverage Skyfall's momentum into a full-fledged "thinking man's" Bond movie. Imagine the snippy banter scene between Craig and Javier Bardem played out through an entire movie, tension bubbling over in every moment. That's what Alfredson would bring to the table.
If you saw We Need to Talk About Kevin, you know that Ramsey has an eye like few filmmakers working today. Like Mendes, she doesn't have many movies in her oeuvre that scream "Bond director." Yet Ramsey's skill set feels perfectly aligned with what a successful Bond director has to accomplish: take a specific scenario with a specific dramatic angle and let it blossom with a fury of imagery. One thing Broccoli and Wilson understand more than any producers working with major blockbusters today is the need for a vision. Not all major tentpoles need to look the same. Ramsey could prove that a sweeping action movie could also look like an artfully crafted indie.
RELATED: 'Skyfall' Stuntman Reveals How They Devised and Pulled Off the Movie's Big Set Pieces
Speaking of artfully crafted, Park Chan-wook has made a career out bloody revenge films that speak to the darkest aspects of human nature. The Korean director has a modern classic under his belt, with the 2003 manga adaptation Oldboy, and his English debut Stoker (currently in theaters) is an exercise in mood and is incomparable to any American director's output. Having taken a uniquely British approach with Skyfall, a follow-up film has the opportunity to jump to the other end of the spectrum by capturing the essence of another part of world. Make Bond a fish out of water and use Park Chan-wook's sensibilities to do it. And a purely surface level reason: have you seen the hammer fight in Oldboy? Enough said.
After knocking a Bond short film produced for the 2012 Olympics out of the park, we already know Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, 28 Days Later) is capable of energizing 007 with his signature kineticism. He has said in the past that he wouldn't want to direct a feature-length Bond movie, preferring low-budget movies that allow him to stretch his muscles than Hollywood blockbusters that are helmed by committee. But maybe Skyfallwill sway him. Bond is a franchise that demands a director's stamp. Boyle would press down hard and leave quite a colorful one.
Who would you pick as a director for the next Bond movie? Let your imagination run wild in the comments.
Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches
[Photo Credit: Sony Pictures]
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The 23rd installment of the 007 franchise, starring Daniel Craig as the suave superspy and directed by Sam Mendes, was an instant hit with audiences and critics alike upon its release in October (12), landing the biggest seven-day gross takings of all time in the U.K.
It has now broken all box office records by raking in $150.8 million (£94.2 million) in 40 days, overtaking the previous record held by Avatar, which earned just over $150 million (£94 million) in 2009.
In a statement, Bond producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli write, "We're overwhelmed with gratitude to the cinema-going audiences in the U.K. who have made Skyfall the highest grossing film of all time.
"We are very proud of this film and thank everybody, especially Daniel Craig and Sam Mendes, who have contributed to its success."
The film, which stars Daniel Craig in the most successful Bond film in the franchise's history, marked the fifth time Purvis and Wade have joined forces to write a 007 movie since 1999's The World Is Not Enough.
The British screenwriting duo spoke about their time working on Bond movies at a writing masterclass in the Al Rayyan Theater at the Doha Tribeca Film Festival in Qatar on Monday (19Nov12).
Purvis says, "When we were originally asked to come in to meet the Bond people, we weren't expecting to be walking straight into a meeting with Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson (Bond producers). We certainly were not expecting to be kept around for 15 years. We were going to stop with Quantum of Solace, but it's good to go out on a high with Skyfall."
Wade adds, "We're very happy to have done five Bond movies, I think we've gotten it to a good place. I know that (Skyfall co-writer) John Logan and Sam Mendes have come up with a plot for another one, which takes the pressure off (us) because these films take up a lot of time."