With myself and the rest of the Gazette team just back from summer holidays, it’s fair to say that cinema trips weren’t a priority as I braved the paint-stripping rains of Donegal for a couple of weeks.
However, those two weeks saw plenty of interesting cinema news stories rolling around, so here’re two of them, as iconic characters look set to face some shake-ups on the big screen.
First up, and the ongoing will-he, won’t-they mutterings about Idris Elba taking over as the new Bond took another tangible step closer to a hoped-for reality thanks to some cryptic mutterings, tweets and Hollywood buzz.
The unnamed Bond film currently being worked on – set to be Daniel Craig’s last outing – has hit a bump in the road with director Danny Boyle just abandoning the project over ‘creative differences’, but even though that film hasn’t even been shot yet many eyes are looking out for double-oh Idris for the following film.
Idris has been an outsider name long attached to the Bond franchise, with plenty of fans seeing the charismatic actor as a natural fit, despite the powers that be in charge of the Bond brand resisting change to Bond’s identity.
Frankly, the more-or-less insistence that Bond is a white guy, as Bond author Ian Fleming wrote at the time as the ‘classic English gentleman spy’, has kept the character dipped in amber, even though Judi Dench took over as M with ease.
However, it’s now believed that the Broccoli family (largely the guardians of Bond’s cinema image) are keen to add some diversity to the role, to possibly update Bond for the modern multicultural, multiethnic world.
While Idris finally getting the gig could leave some Bond fans shaken, not stirred, I’m also hoping that he gets his license to kill with a shot at the role.
To lose one a-lister from your next cash cow film project is unfortunate, but to lose two is a big problem – a problem for Paramount to solve over its increasingly troubled Star Trek franchise.
The rebooted films have been something of a curate’s egg, with Star Trek Beyond (2016) pleasing critics but barely crawling through cinemas at impulse power, rather than warping by in a blaze of glory.
You may have seen the headlines about ‘the two Chrises’ (Pine, as Captain Kirk, and Hemsworth, as Kirk’s dad) bailing on the project as they were unhappy with the money they were offered.
While it remains to be seen if this is negotiating/posturing over salary negotiations, many cinemagoers and Trek fans may not know that a more earthly force seems to be affecting the two Chrises, and the Trek franchise’s future: China.
Digging into the Trek malaise during the summer break, I found a number of fascinating articles and content pointing out that Chinese investors were a key part of the last Trek film, but they largely took a bath on returns, with Trek crashing and burning hard in China.
While the Marvel films and similar blockbusters tend to do roaring business in China, the Chinese market is generally very resilient to Sci-Fi fare, with the likes of Trek, and even Star Wars, far from beloved IPs there.
As such, Chinese investors aren’t rushing to help bankroll the next Trek film, and Paramount’s recent films haven’t exactly been spectacular hits, leading to belts being tightened, lower salaries being offered, and the rebooted Trek franchise’s future looking rocky.
Things also aren’t looking much better for its small-screen iteration, with Star Trek: Discovery – warping back onto Netflix with a second series soon – alienating fans, and proving a costly acquisition for Netflix.
Perhaps that’s why the almost 80-year-old Patrick Stewart popped up very recently to say he’s returning as Captain Jean-Luc Picard, to continue baldly going where his character hasn’t gone before with his own spin-off Trek series.
Whether we get to see Idris as Bond, or Stewart back again as Picard, here’s hoping that the big and small screen gods make it so…