If you didn’t already know, we reported last week that MGM was bought for over $ 8 billion in a groundbreaking deal with Amazon. The purchase gives the online retail giant access to studio facilities and a huge catalog of popular movie and television items.
Barbara Broccoli and half-brother Michael Wilson.
This week Logan posted a comment in the New York Times in which he clearly states that the Amazon deal is bad news for Bond.
Logan paints a picture of the evolution of Bond history that feels more like a family get-together, with writers and producers sitting around dinner and breaking story beats. They argue until consensus is reached, with Broccoli and Wilson presiding like patient parents.
With the intrusion of a corporate interest like Amazon, Logan sees this environment threatened.
“The current deal with Amazon gives Barbara and Michael, who own 50 percent of the Bond empire, an iron assurance of continued artistic control,” writes Logan. “But will this always be so? What happens when a grueling company like Amazon begins to demand a voice in this process? What happens to camaraderie and quality control when an Amazon overlord uses analytics to analyze every decision? What happens when focus groups say they don’t like Bond drinking martinis? Or kill so many people?
He talks about what often happens in big studio films where there are far too many cooks in the kitchen. Everyone has a say, and most will want to make things easier, more digestible, and tastier. Sometimes you see it in movies that don’t quite gel or that have weird little Frankenstein pieces that feel like studio clutter, pinned to please the test audience or to explain plot points. Maybe you’re watching a movie with a complicated storyline and all of a sudden you have some ADR dialogue explaining exactly what the characters are doing. Usually you don’t even need it. But that was probably a line added in the post because someone in the studio wanted the audience to get information by hand.
Logan doesn’t want that.
“In my experience, this is what happens to films when such concerns enter the creative process,” he writes. “Everything is watered down to the most painful and easily consumable version of itself. The film becomes a harmless shadow of a thing, not of the thing itself. There are no rough edges or touches of cinematic madness, as original ideas and voices are replaced by commercial ones Concerns, corporate oversight, and survey data are subsumed. I wonder if such an extraordinary studio film as dizziness would have survived if that pressure had existed then. Not to mention radical films like Citizen Kane, The red shoes, Hut in heaven, and Bonnie and Clyde. ”
I’ve felt this frustration many times on big studio films. They have the most money but the least risk. They could be making these new radical films, but instead they want to make films that will appeal to the broadest possible audience. Often, as Logan says, what we end up with is watered down, easy-to-consume popcorn movies.
And popcorn movies can be fun. I love a thoughtless watch every now and then. But I also want to be challenged as a spectator.
Why is Logan particularly concerned about Amazon?
“It is not necessarily an advocate or guardian of artistic creativity or original entertainment,” he writes. “In the context of the larger company, Amazon Prime Videos are not primarily about artists. It’s about attracting and retaining customers. And when larger companies start having a say in iconic characters or franchises, companies tend to want more, not better, and the difference in quality can vary widely from project to project. (See: the rapidly expanding war of stars Franchises at Disney and the DC Comics franchises of Superman, Batman, and others at Warner Bros.) ”
Notice the smear at war of stars. The most recent trilogy we discussed didn’t start off with the most thorough planning.
“The Bond films really are the most bespoke, hand-made films I’ve ever worked on,” writes Logan. “That’s why they’re original, thorny, eccentric, and special. They were never created with lawyers and accountants and e-commerce mass marketing survey researchers behind the scenes.”
Logan concludes by saying that Bond is not “satisfied”. He’s a character that really matters to a lot of people, especially since he’s been around for so long.
What do you think? Weigh in the comments.