Hacked Sony emails indicate that both Mexico and Sony may have offered millions to make script changes to the Bond film Spectre.
In the video below, CBS reports that Mexico may have paid Sony Pictures up to $20 million dollars to change the upcoming Bond film Spectre to show the country in a better light.
The video, titled “Secret Agent for Sale,” says hacked Sony emails indicate that Mexico offered up to $20 million in tax incentives and other perks to improve their image in the big budget Bond movie.
James Bond: Secret Agent for Sale?
Sony Pictures isn’t exactly in a position to turn down easy money. The studio spent an estimated $300 million on the movie’s production. That’s about $100 million more than they spent on the previous Bond film, Skyfall. This comes not long after a highly publicized hack of the company’s private information cost them an estimated $500 million or more from cancelled movie releases and other fractured deals.
Mexico asked for changes to the Bond film’s script that would improve their public image. The country’s public perception has been dragged down by years of public scandal, drug wars, mass killings and government corruption.
The requested script changes include showcasing modern Mexico City buildings and ensuring the movie’s villain wouldn’t be Mexican. They also requested that one of the movie’s “Bond girls” be portrayed by a known Mexican actress. In fact Mexican actress Stephanie Sigmund was given a major part in the film.
Emails released in the hack seem to indicate that Sony agreed to all of Mexico’s requested changes.
Mexico Buys Bond: Not Surprising
Matthew Belloni, executive editor at The Hollywood Reporter explains that Mexico’s requests shouldn’t come as a shock.
“Movies are very influential. If the next James Bond film grosses a billion dollars, that’s a lot of people who will see that movie and could be influenced by the portrayal of particular towns, particular governments.”
Belloni also says he thinks leaked news of the deal is embarrassing to Sony.
Sony declined to comment on the deal, but sources say the altered scenes only take place in the film’s final four minutes.
Sony Tells Daniel Craig: “Hold Our Phone for $5 Million Dollars”
A second product placement deal leaked in hacked Sony emails includes an offer made to Daniel Craig. Sony reportedly offered Daniel Craig $5 million just to hold their new Sony Xperia Z4 smartphone in the Spectre film. Craig and the film’s director Sam Mendes apparently refused. The reason? Bond only uses the best.
One of the hacked emails, from the head of Worldwide Business Affairs and Operations Andrew Gumpert, reads:
“BEYOND the $$ factor, there is, as you may know, a CREATIVE factor whereby Sam and Daniel don’t like the Sony phone for the film (the thinking, subjectively/objectively is that James Bond only uses the ‘best,’ and in their minds, the Sony phone is not the ‘best’).”
While it’s interesting that Sony would offer Daniel Craig $5 million to hold their new phone, maybe the real story here is that Craig and Mendez were able to turn down the company’s offer. After all, Sony is paying the tab for the Bond movies these days, and it’s Sony that signs both men’s paychecks.
This isn’t the first time Sony has angled to market one of their phones as the “Bond phone,” as the ad below shows.
Product Placement: Not Just for Bond
James Bond isn’t the only one who takes money to paint a country or a phone in a better light. Reports that pop star Rihanna took $125,000 to put the Ray Ban sunglasses brand name in a song may be fictitious. However, product history has a long history in songs, movies and other forms of entertainment.
Snoop Dogg, Cee Lo Green and Lady Gaga have all dipped their hand in the product placement till. In fact, instances of product placements in song lyrics and other venues are up drastically in the past 15 years. In 2010, yearly spending on product placement in video games alone was estimated at over $1 billion. See our article, “Did Rihanna Really Get $125K to Mention Ray-Ban?” for more.
James Bond is Here to Stay
Will paid creative changes to Bond movies stop anyone from shelling out their dollars at the box office? Likely not. The previous Bond film, Skyfall took in well over a billion dollars worldwide. Judging by the buzz around Spectre, this installment in the Bond saga will be no exception to the moviegoing rule. Plus, the film doesn’t look too bad, since it stars Christoph Waltz as Ernst Blofeld and hearkens back to Bond’s fun-filled past with the cat-petting villain. Watch the official teaser trailer below.