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The soap opera behind the Bond saga: a family business of broccoli, spies and millions


Barbara Broccoli and her brother Michael Wilson, who share the rights to 007 with Amazon after buying this MGM, want to continue to maintain creative control of the only major Hollywood franchise that has always been a matter of a single last name (and it is not Bond)

James Bond moves, but will continue to receive orders from the same bosses. Amazon's purchase of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) entails the acquisition of 50% of the mother of all the great Hollywood franchises: After almost 60 years squeezing its license to kill and drinking

dry martinis

, 007 is still so fresh and sought after as never before. But Bond won't be


Star Wars

. Jeff Bezos' firm may finally be incorporated into its



the old films of the saga, until now only available to rent or buy on Google Play or Apple TV, but invisible on any platform. Of course, it is more difficult to multiply the breads and fish based on derivative products, as Disney does with the Skywalker clan. The handicap has a name: it's called Broccoli, Barbara Broccoli.

Bond has been a family business for six decades, and the second generation, made up of Barbara Broccoli (Los Angeles, 60 years old) and her brother by mother Michael G. Wilson (New York, 79 years old), does not renounce the last word in everything that refers to 007: from the casting or the composition of its cocktails to the most unknown line of the script. And his plan remains unchanged: dose deliveries as before and continue to release them in theaters. They underlined this in a statement as soon as the purchase was announced: "Our commitment is to continue making James Bond films for film audiences around the world." That goes for

No Time to Die

, which opens on October 1 after a few delays due to the covid-19 pandemic, and for those to come.

After the agreement, John Logan, co-writer of


(2012) and


(2015), vindicated in

The New York Times

that Bond's success is based precisely on that care with which Broccoli and Wilson take care of every detail and warned of the risks of Bezos's embrace: “What happens if a corporation as aggressive as Amazon begins to demand a voice in the process?

What happens with camaraderie and quality control if there is an Amazonian supreme chief who with data management controls every decision?

What happens when a discussion group reports that they don't like Bond drinking martinis?

Or kill so many people? "

The duel would be worth seeing.

Not only have the Broccoli never given up creative control, they, like their hero, have always had their way.

A matter of perseverance.

And money.

Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson at the London premiere of 'Casino Royale' in 2006 Dave Hogan / Getty Images

From broccoli to millionaire sagas

The family is credited with the cross between cauliflower and turnip greens from which the vegetable that bears their name, broccoli, came out and its introduction into the United States.

The son of a couple of Sicilian farmers who emigrated from Calabria to Queens (New York) - supposedly taking such a precious product with him - Albert R. Broccoli was associated in 1960 with Canadian Harry Saltzman and acquired the rights to the character.

In 1975, the United Artists Company (UA) took 50% of Saltzman.

That part is the one that has been changing hands: first it went to MGM when it absorbed the UA and, now, to Amazon.

Broccoli, on the other hand, always kept his, which was only for his pockets: he never wanted to share it. In 1985, Sean Connery, the first film Bond, claimed 225 million in court, according to Robert Sellers in his biography of the actor. The matter was closed with an out-of-court settlement whose content is top secret. And if there was never a first sword among the payroll of Bondian filmmakers before the Sam Mendes of



Specter, it

was largely due to the producer's refusal to allow any director to take a portion of the benefits. In his memoirs

My World is my Bond

, Roger Moore, 007 seventies, explains that Steven Spielberg, after directing



Encounters in the third phase

, told him that he would love to shoot a Bond movie.

Moore excitedly told Broccoli.

"Do you know what percentage he would want?", He snapped.

It never happened.

Producer Albert Broccoli poses with the poster for 'Moonraker' in California in 1979.tom nebbia / Getty Images

For Barbara Broccoli, 007 is her life. In 1962, when he was a year and a half, he was already on the set of

Agent 007 against Dr. No

, and until the age of six or seven he believed that Bond was a real person, as he told

The New York Times

. At 17 he was an advertising assistant in

The Spy Who Loved Me

(1977). Since then, she and her brother have worked in all the films, although they did not take the reins until


(1995), released months before the death of the patriarch. His stepson and daughter, apparently a skilled negotiator, have since won even the two battles that he could not win.

The first battle was that of the rights to the first novel,

Casino Royale

, which Broccoli and Salzman were unable to acquire because Gregory Ratoff had already done it for $ 6,000 in 1955. From there, Charles K. Feldman perpetrated in 1967 a disgraceful parody of the saga (in that

Casino Royale

Peter Sellers gave life to Bond). The failure was resounding and the rights remained in a drawer of the Columbia production company.

The second battle was more hectic, stirred even. For his novel

Operation Thunder

, Fleming recycled a never-filmed script - for budgetary reasons - that he had worked on prior to his deal with Broccoli and Saltzman. But the courts granted co-writer Kevin McClory rights to the story and some elements of it, such as the Spectra organization and the character of its leader, Ernst Stavro Blofeld, Bond's arch nemesis. McClory reached an agreement to participate, in 1965, as a screenwriter and producer in the adaptation of the novel, and obtained that from 1971, Blofeld and Spectra stopped appearing in the films. In 1983, McClory produced a remake of

Operation Thunder


Never Say Never Again.

, regardless of the official series (Sean Connery returned as a mature Bond, although then Roger Moore had already been the star of the saga for six installments, and even the title itself is a nod to the actor's refusal to return to the secret agent skin).

And in the mid-nineties he tried to start

a parallel saga

together with Sony, which had acquired Columbia and with it

Casino Royale


Roger Moore and Albert Broccoli at the 1981 Oscars.Ron Galella / Ron Galella Collection via Getty

That attempt was shipwrecked in 1999, when the Broccoli and MGM regained the rights to that initial novel thanks to an agreement. The book would be the basis for

Casino Royale

(2006), a glittering reboot of the saga with Daniel Craig offering the darkest version of the character seen on screen. And in 2013, seven years after McClory's death, his heirs closed another classified content out-of-court settlement that settled a half-century litigation and in which MGM and the Broccoli recovered Blofeld, who would once again challenge Bond in



This is not the last pulse won by those new family partners who have in 007 their diamond for eternity and who will now deal with Bezos.

When, after starring in that fourth film, Craig went so far as to affirm that he would rather cut his wrists than repeat as Bond, Barbara only replied that she had no intention of letting him go.

And the actor returned to serve their majesties the Broccoli, of course.

There are families in which money is always enough.

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Source: elparis

All news articles on 2021-07-28

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