Spy Movie News – June 1 2021

Contributed by: Dan Silvestri and Tom Pizzato - Spy Movie Navigator

Here is our Spy Movie News for June 1 2021!   Hot industry news as Amazon gobbles up MGM, Barbara Broccoli speaks out, James Bond and Marvel, Black Widow, Operation Mincemeat, Schwarzenegger a Spy?, Mark Strong and the Kingsman Franchise, Face/Off 2 ; and more!

INDUSTRY NEWS 

Amazon Buys MGM for  $8.45 Billion 

Although it was anticipated, Amazon bought MGM for $8.45 Billion on May 26th.  This is the first tech company to buy a studio.  However, it doesn’t appear to be about making content, but rather about getting access to the MGM catalog.   Amazon needs content to continue to lure Amazon Prime customers.  This acquisition buys them a lot of content, including James Bond.  Amazon had been the leader in the streaming game as they launched Prime in 2005, well ahead of most of their competitors.  Now the streaming industry has caught up. 

An article on CNBC.COM talks about the anti-trust regulators being likely to approve this deal.  However, there could be roadblocks as the District of Columbia just sued Amazon on antitrust grounds.  The article believes it will be approved because they aren’t leaders in this content space and there is a lot of competition.  Plus, they mention that Amazon doesn’t have a lot of new things to acquire without antitrust concerns. 

What concerns us here at Spy Movie Navigator is Jeff Bezos.  Yes, he’s stepping down as CEO in July, but he will be Executive Chairman of the Board.  Will he allow James Bond movies to be made that will likely look better in a theater on a big screen than in a home theater or mobile device?  Bond is designed to be big.  That’s not where Amazon has historically played.  Might Bezos get rid of theatrical releases totally for MGM’s movies?   These are just some of the concerns we have. 

In another article, this time on Variety.com, James Bond producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson say: “We are committed to continuing to make James Bond films for the worldwide theatrical audience”. That article says No Time To Die is still on track for the October 8th release date.   We need to remember that Barbara and Michael have final say on everything from the film’s marketing and distribution plans to the actor who plays James Bond.  This was part of the deal when Cubby Broccoli made the initial deal with MGM for financing and distribution rights.  

Ok, to have a bit of fun with this ‘why we’re concerned that Amazon bought MGM’ idea: Is it just us, but does Jeff Bezos remind us of a cross between Blofeld and Elliott Carver from the James Bond movies?   He’s smart, rich, manipulative, wants to control everything, maybe he’s a bit of a megalomaniac (ok, we’re just kidding here).  Like Telly Savalas and Donald Pleasence’s Blofeld he’s bald.  Like Elliott Carver, he owns a newspaper, The Washington Post so he can control some of the news. Like Savalas’ Blofeld he can control what people eat in some regard since he owns Whole Foods.  Makes us go Hmmm…. 

You can read about the acquisition (here) on CNBC.com. You can find the Variety article here. 

US Members of Congress Push Back On Amazon-MGM Deal 

Well, as you might imagine US politicians can’t keep their hands off corporations.  And anything that gets them in the news trying to fight for the little guy will be taken advantage of. 

Democrat US Senator Amy Klobuchar is pushing for a Department of Justice investigation into the Amazon-MGM deal.  She says: “This is a major acquisition that has the potential to impact millions of consumers “The Department of Justice must conduct a thorough investigation to ensure that this deal won’t risk harming competition.” “This is also a reminder of why we need to fund our antitrust agencies so they can take on investigations of multi-billion dollar deals,” 

This appears to be a bipartisan topic as Republican US Rep Josh Hawley also said ““This sale should not go through. Amazon is already a monopoly platform that owns e-commerce, shipping, groceries & the cloud. They shouldn’t be permitted to buy anything else. Period.” 

We guess Amazon or MGM didn’t give them enough support in the last election cycle. 

You can read all about it (here) on Variety.com 

Are Outdated COVID Guidelines Hurting Hollywood? 

William Earl pens an interesting article talking about the costs of testing for COVID, Union agreements, and advances in technology are coming to a head.  The high cost of COVID safety measures is hurting movie profits.  It was way back in September 2020 that the basic agreement with the big unions was signed. A lot of progress since then in testing should lower costs. However, the agreements from September are getting in the way.  It’s estimated that 10-20% of a filmmaker’s budget goes to COVID-related expenses.  Testing prices have been slashed in half or more.  And new testing is available. 

You can read William Earl’s article (here) on Variety.com. 

JAMES BOND 

Should James Bond Adopt The Marvel Cinematic Universe Model? 

An interesting article on digitalspy.com talks about the pros and cons of James Bond taking more of an MCU approach to release schedules.  The article notes that even with Bond’s 46-year head start, by the end of this year MCU will have released more movies, 27, than Bond has in almost 60 years.  The article talks about releasing more James Bond movies more frequently. One of the big hindrances there is the possibility of Bond overload for the viewer, the Bond actor, and the writers.  Also, there would likely have to be spin-offs.  There was a script developed for a spin-off for Jinx from Die Another Day.  And a rumor of a spin-off of Wai Lin from Tomorrow Never Dies. 

It’s an interesting read and you can check it out (here) on Digitalspy.com. 

BLACK WIDOW 

Black Widow Releases New Trailer With Cool Chase scene 

ON July 9th, Disney will release Black Widow in theaters and Disney +.  To help with the hype, they released a new trailer with a nice short chase scene with a unique way of foiling the chaser.  You can catch this trailer and a related story (here) on CinemaBlend.com.  One thing we like from the article is that this movie will be unique in that most of the characters seemingly don’t have superpowers.  He hope that is true.  We at SpyMovieNavigator.com focus on spy movies and most of the MCU doesn’t fall into that category.   Black Widow does which makes us curious to see how that is handled. 

OPERATION MINCEMEAT GETS A RELEASE DATE 

The WWII drama Operation Mincemeat starring Colin Firth and Kelly MacDonald is set to release in the UK and Ireland on Jan 7, 2022.  We haven’t seen the US release date yet but we can’t wait.   This movie is based on an actual WWII espionage plot that we’ve mentioned in several podcasts.  A dead body is given credentials and placed by the British to throw off the enemy. It will great to see this story on the big screen. 

You can find out more (here) on variety.com. 

DeObia Oparei CAST IN THE GRAY MAN

We’ve been talking about this movie for a while now.   They’ve announced that DeObia Oparei has joined the cast of The Gray Man.  DeObia is probably best known for his role as Areo Hotah  in “Game of Thrones”.  He joins this star-studded cast that includes Ryan Gosling, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Billy Bob Thorton, Alfre Woodard, Regé-Jean Page, and others.  The Gray Man is based on the first installment of The Gray Man book series and the hope is that this can become a spy movie franchise in the likes of James Bond or Mission: Impossible. 

 You can read more about this (here) on Deadline.com.    

THE GOVERNATOR GETS A SPY SERIES 

Netflix has landed Arnold Schwarzenegger for a live-action eight-episode global spy adventure. Monica Barbaro will play his daughter.  The show doesn’t have a title or release date yet.  You can read more (here) on MovieWeb.com. 

WILL MARK STONG RETURN TO THE KINGSMAN FRANCHISE? 

Ok, so his character Merlin may have died in the last Kingsman movie, Kingsman: The Golden Circle.  That doesn’t keep Mark Strong from wanting to come back for another shot at it.  He tells Jon Fuge: “I was quite sad, I think, as were a lot of people, when he comes to his dynamic end, shall we say? At the end of the second one. I think there is a third one, and that universe, anything can happen as you well know.” 

As fans of this series and of Merlin, in particular, we like to see him get the chance to come back in a future Kingsman movie. 

The third Kingsman movie, The King’s Man is slated to release on December 22, 2021.  It’s been pushed back quite a few times so we hope this time it happens. 

You can read move (here) on MovieWeb.com. 

JOAN ALLEN WOULD LIKE TO BE BACK IN FACE/OFF 2 

Joan Allen says she hasn’t been contacted to resurrect her role as Sean Archer’s wife, Eve in the upcoming Face/Off 2.  She says she will return.  The director, Adam Wingard says that John Travolta and Nicolas Cage will return.  It will be interesting to see how much of the rest of the cast returns, like Joan Allen.    

You can read more about this (here) on MovieWeb.com 

IN MEMORIAM 

Frank McRae (1941-2021) 

We are saddened to report that Frank McRae, who played Sharkey in Licence to Kill passed away on April 29, 2021. 

Neil Connery (1938-2021) 

Sean Connery’s younger brother, Neil passed away on May 9th. He was probably known mostly for his role in Operation Kid Brother (1967) which was a spoof on James Bond that included Daniela Bianchi and Adolpho Celi of James Bond fame. 

You can read more about Neil on Jamesbond007.se here. 

Graeme Ferguson (1929-2021) 

Graeme Ferguson who was one of the founders of IMAX passed away on May 8, 2021.  The giant screen editions of the action spy movies are the way to see them.  Big movies need big screens.  The upcoming No Time To Die is the first 007 movie shot with IMAX film cameras.  None of that would have been possible without Graeme Ferguson’s efforts.

Romy Walthall (1963-2021)

Romy Walthall died May 19, 2021. For spy movie fans, she played Sean Archer’s secretary in Face/Off.

You can read more about Romy in this article on Variety.com.

 

That wraps up this edition of Spy Movie News for June 1, 2021.

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