Daniel Craig's criticisms of his own character and movie are, predictably, still much in the news. Indeed, the Toronto Star's Vinay Menon wrote that such comments are "generating more pre-release publicity than any other actor who played Bond" ever did "in the past." That may or may not be true, given the series' long history (and the weak memory entertainment journalism displays). Still, Mr. Menon is quite right when he remarks that Bond is "making so many headlines for this apparent 007 self-loathing, previous Bonds are protectively jumping into the fray." Which in turn amounts to still more pre-release publicity, and, when Roger Moore comments on the prospect of a gay or female Bond (intentionally or unintentionally pushing that easiest, laziest of buttons, identity), publicity about the publicity about the publicity.
At times like these it seems worth remembering that, long before George Lucas or Steven Spielberg even went to film school, the makers of the Bond films not only invented the action movie, but the cinematic blockbuster. It was Goldfinger, in fact, which initiated the style of their release: a combo of massive publicity and wide release (a then unprecedented 1,100 reels) aimed at scoring big in the first weekends, front-loading the income; while supplementing the revenue from ticket sales with a colossal merchandising push, that escalated in subsequent films. When Thunderball hit theaters in America, so did sixty million dollars worth of James Bond merchandise, including such unlikely items as James Bond cough syrup, and James Bond toast, an excess that elicited some critical remarks from then-James Bond Sean Connery, who called the movie's opening "a Frankenstein monster. The merchandising, the promotion . . . they're thoroughly distasteful."
Indeed, Connery was given to grumpy interviews and criticism of his franchise before Craig was even born. They didn't seem to be part of the routine of publicity then, but one may wonder if, in this age when the sheer torrent of conventional puff pieces has desensitized us to their style of kiss-assery, this may not be a new strategy for grabbing attention--the Bond films once again pioneers in the publicity realm that others will follow, other actors, other directors, calculatedly displaying such unpleasant "spontaneity."
I can't say for sure that this is what will happen in the coming years. How well this works out, how repeatable it proves to be, remain to be seen. Still, I wouldn't be shocked if it did.
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My Posts on James Bond