Is anyone surprised the folks behind the 24th James Bond film are making the movie's title and casting news a media event?
American movie goers will need to wake up by 6 a.m. EST Dec. 4 to watch the streaming press conference from Pinewood Studios at 007.com.
The spy franchise is merely following the modern blockbuster template. Tease the product months before the release date, make each step in the creative process a media event and goose fan anticipation in every way possible.
It helps if people still care about the films in question.
It’s one reason the 007 franchise not only endures but may be the healthiest, economically speaking, it’s ever been. “Skyfall,” the franchise’s 23rd James Bond feature, raked in more than $1.1 billion worldwide. Here are five reasons why:
- No Gadgets, No Problem: The Bond movies supply its stars with some ingenious tools to save the day, particularly during the Roger Moore era. After all, Moore’s reign came at a time when “Star Wars” ruled pop culture, and gadgets drew a crowd. In recent years, the franchise cut back on those nifty toys in favor of throwback weapons – guns and fists.
- Bond Gets Monogamous: Sean Connery and Moore played Bond like the ultimate ladies man, bedding a string of beauties in between action sequences. Cultural expectations started to shift as Moore gave way to Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan. Suddenly, a playboy Bond seemed archaic in some circles. The modern Bond still woos women, but it’s typically one at a time. Films like “The Living Daylights” (1987) and “Casino Royale” (2006) hinged on our hero falling for just one lucky lady.
- Grit Is Good: It’s hard to imagine Connery’s Bond suffering the kind of testicular torture Daniel Craig endured in “Casino Royale.” The Craig incarnation brought a grittier, more rough and tumble Bond to the multiplex, a change tied directly to current cinema tastes. Craig’s Bond gets bloody, kills with alacrity and doesn’t mind getting his tux stained along the way. Expect more of the same in the 24th feature.
- New Blood: The Bond series survives serial casting changes without missing a beat. Each new Bond brings something new to the character, from the humor Moore added to the franchise to Craig’s no-nonsense demeanor. Not every pop culture figure can be reinvented so easily – remember the backlash Shia LaBeouf faced at the prospect of stepping into Indiana Jones’ shoes. And, as a result, when Craig decides to retire his License to Kill another, younger actor will step in and likely maintain the series’ momentum.
- Placement … Product Placement: How do the bean counters behind the franchise pay for those stunts and flashy location shoots? For starters, the franchise got into the product placement game like most movie productions these days. That meant our hero started favoring Heineken beer over martinis, even the shaken variety. Audiences apparently didn’t seem to mind.