Live-streaming the announcement of a film may seem only natural in 2014, except when it comes to Bond, as in, yes, James Bond. The title and cast of the 24th 007 film–which is due out next year–will be broadcast over the Internet at 007.com on Thursday at 11 a.m. UK time (6 a.m. ET/ 3 a.m. PT) from Pinewood Studios near London.
The 007 franchise, after all, is the oldest thriving film property, dating back to 1962, when Sean Connery starred as a martini-swilling secret agent in Dr. No, the first of over two dozen Ian Fleming novels that have been adapted to the big screen.
Five decades-plus later, the films are still mega-event blockbusters. The last installment, 2012’s Skyfall, with gritty blonde Daniel Craig in the lead, grossed $1.1 billion at the box office and nabbed two Academy Awards.
Yet for all of the franchise’s ability to remain remarkably relevant to contemporary audiences, Bond films have always adhered to a stubbornly old-school–and tightly-controlled– marketing playbook wherein details such as the Bond car, the girl, the villain and the actor playing Bond himself have been slowly dribbled out over the course of months leading up to the film’s release. Needless to say, none of this information was ever released over the Internet.
This has all been according to the design of Bond producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson who wield an extraordinary amount of control when it comes to 007. Broccoli is the daughter of original Bond producer Albert “Cubby” Broccoli, whose producing deal was negotiated in 1961, when Bond films were released by United Artists, a studio that was famously hands-off and artist-friendly. Because UA operated mainly as a distributor and marketer, filmmakers were given an incredible amount of autonomy. To wit: a clause in Broccoli and Wilson’s deal give them final say on all creative decisions so long as they stay within the film’s budget. The producers don’t necessarily invoke that–it behooves them to play nice with Sony, which now produces the films in partnership with MGM –but it’s fair to assume that everything you see on the screen passes muster with the duo.
The live-streaming decision seems to be the result of a few things. One, the reality of the Internet, particularly fan boys on the Internet, is that it’s become virtually impossible to keep anything secret anymore when it comes to casting decisions or car designs on popular films. The sight of an actor headed toward Pinewood leads to a blog post, which leads to a frenzy of speculation, which leads to headaches for the filmmakers and studio executives. Doling out all of the information early and at once, returns messaging control to the producers. The announcement also steals a page from the Marvel playbook, wherein cast and movie announcements become Apple-like live events, avidly watched and anticipated by fan boys, i.e. the most vocal and passionate conveyors of film news on the Internet.
The only question is how much new news the Bond announcement will actually yield. Craig and Skyfall director Sam Mendes are already confirmed, and it’s been widely speculated that Ralph Fiennes as M, Ben Whishaw as Q and Naomie Harris as Miss Moneypenny will all return.
But perhaps “news” is not the point–other than the fact that Bond is coming back. Get ready.