Conventions

“James Bond: Vampire Hunter?” – Not Yet

Happy Saturday. It’s the weekend. So let’s again be a bit blog “lighthearted.

Evidently it is also that time again. Current “James Bond” actor Daniel Craig is making his last Bond film. We are hearing talk about who might be the next “Bond”:

If the producers want Idris Elba, it’s only their choice. I suspect in the end it won’t be him for this reason. Given Craig is playing “Bond” one more time, in late 2019, the earliest Elba would be Bond would be 2021/22, so Elba would be 50 years old – the oldest ever film debut age-wise based on a book character who author/creator Ian Fleming had placed in his early 30s.

And major action film-going audiences are not that 50-plus demographic; they are half that age and even younger. One would have thought that even if producers did want to cast a black actor, they would aim for a younger man. Simply put, Elba is probably too “mature” now to play “James Bond” on screen.

How far from the original books the producers wish to cast and stray is up to those producers. They are obviously empowered to decide given their contractual relationship with “Bond” author Ian Fleming’s literary estate. Clearly above all they want to make money and will cast a lead actor whom they believe will be best for their film franchise.

[At Bletchley Park, “James Bond” art exhibit, which ends in October. Photo by me, 2018.]

I write they are their films for this reason. I noted this several years ago. It’s worth repeating.

The public tends to treat “James Bond” as “public domain.” For example, Amazon is full of (apparently self-published) “Bond” books. But that they are out there doesn’t mean they are okay.

Such books are copyright-infringing. (My guess is most are just too “small fry” for “Bond” lawyers to bother about.) Technically, you cannot YET LEGALLY publish a “James Bond story” without permission from Ian Fleming’s literary estate. His “James Bond” character is NOT in the public domain.

[At Bletchley Park, “James Bond” art exhibit, which ends in October. Photo by me, 2018.]

So, yes, you can certainly self-publish, say, your dream tale: James Bond: Vampire Hunter. However, you are NOT legally free to do that without permission. If you do, you are leaving yourself exposed to getting a threatening “cease and desist” letter in the mail.

[At Bletchley Park, “James Bond” art exhibit, which ends in October. Photo by me, 2018.]

That’s because as Fleming’s original books are from the 1950s, they and the Bond character are mostly still in copyright around the world. (Aside from one or two early books ONLY in Canada for some odd, local Canadian legal reason, I believe.) “Bond” overall is not yet the equivalent of a century old “Sherlock Holmes” or a two centuries’ old “Elizabeth Bennet” (Pride And Prejudice); “he” is not YET “the world’s” property. “He” is still owned by someone(s).

[“About Ian Fleming publications…” At Bletchley Park, “James Bond” art exhibit, which ends in October. Photo by me, 2018.]

Similarly, I suppose, this. My wife, a “Jack Reacher” fan, told me the other day that “Reacher” living author Lee Child has said Tom Cruise (age 56), who plays Child’s “Jack Reacher” in the films, is due to be replaced. Indeed I found a Daily Mail (err, so it must be true) July article that reports that Child had said if a Netflix series is made, another actor will play ”Reacher” because Cruise doesn’t do television.

That will make many “Reacher” fans ecstatic. Many have NEVER liked – to put it mildly – Cruise as “Reacher” in the films. Their reason?: He is NOTHING like “Reacher” is written in the books.

In reaction to her bringing that up, I joked: “But who could actually play ‘Reacher’? What major actor is 7 feet tall, blond, and menacing like ‘Reacher’ in the books?” At the risk of incurring the wrath of any “Reacher” fans who may be reading this post, I’ve actually liked Cruise as “Reacher”… but I have NOT read any of the novels, so I defer to you, of course. 🙂

[At Bletchley Park, “James Bond” art exhibit, which ends in October. Photo by me, 2018.]

Fleming had a say in the early 1960s about Sean Connery initially playing the “James Bond” film role. I won’t here even hazard a guess at what Fleming – who died in 1964 – might think about current debates about who should play his created character. He would probably be astounded just at discovering the character’s incredible longevity, worldwide reach, and cultural impact since 1964: “Bond” has become what every author dreams to write; “he” is globally one of the best-known fictional characters ever.

I think about this issue now as a writer, and I suspect I’m not alone. If you too write ORIGINAL fiction, you probably also take your copyrighted characters seriously and are protective of them. Yes, they are meant to be read and enjoyed by readers, of course, but they are nonetheless still yours, written for your own reasons, and not meant YET to be altered or trespassed upon by even well-meaning fans.

[Excerpt from Conventions: The Garden At Paris. Paperback. Click to expand.]

So, obviously in consultation with film producers, only I get to make the decision. If my wife survives me, it becomes her decision. After we are both gone, until my copyright expires it will then be my two nephews and my niece, and after that their kids, who decide who plays “Carolina Beckington,” “Rosalie de La Rochefoucauld,” “William Short,” and “Robert Rutherford,” etc., and all of my other characters, on screen.😉

Have I made myself clear?😂😂😂😂😂

Have an entertaining weekend, wherever you are!😊🇬🇧

2 replies »

  1. It certainly appears incredibly difficult to closely match the actual literary characters when making a movie. Personally, I will be in mourning—positively a decline—when Daniel Craig retires. I have a certain, ahem, fondness for him . . . as Bond, of course! 🙂 One of my favorite cast lists would have to be that of The Book Thief even down to the voice of the Death as the narrator. The actors were so perfectly selected, I didn’t even notice any discrepancies if there were any although that might have had something to do with the fact that the script followed the book so closely. Markus Zusak must have had some heavy influence to make that happen. In regards to Reacher, ask your wife what she would think about casting Armie Hammer. He was excellent in the remake of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and while he’s not seven foot, he is six foot five and blonde. She might approve. 🙂

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    • I too like Craig as Bond. Apparently, though, as Connery came to, Craig now dislikes the role. But I think his “Casino Royale” is the best Bond film since Connery played the role. On Reacher: I hadn’t thought of Hammer as Reacher.🤔 I saw that U.N.C.L.E. and I enjoyed it. It will be interesting to see who succeeds Cruise.😊

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