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 Posted:   Jan 18, 2021 - 1:32 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

In Pierce Brosnan’s third Bond outing, 1999’s THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH, Bond uncovers a nuclear plot while protecting oil heiress “Elektra King” (Sophie Marceau) from her former kidnapper, an international terrorist who can't feel pain (Robert Carlyle).

After Neal Purvis and Robert Wade finished their version of the script, director Michael Apted wanted the character of Elektra King to be further developed. The studio suggested that Apted's then wife, screenwriter Dana Stevens, do a polish on the script. Stevens worked uncredited on the script for three weeks, increasing the importance of both Elektra and M, but this version pushed 007 too much into the background. Bruce Feirstein was asked to deliver a final rewrite, making sure that James Bond remained the focal point of the film.

Maria Grazia Cucinotta originally auditioned for the part of Elektra King, but Michael Apted didn't think her English was good enough to play her convincingly. Cucinotta gladly accepted the smaller role of the Cigar Girl, as she really wanted to be in a Bond movie. MGM preferred Sharon Stone for the role of Elektra.

Sophie Marceau, Pierce Brosnan, and Michael Apted on the set of THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH

Before the shoot even began, a set was being built in Turkey, and was almost finished. One day when Michael Apted was touring around Istanbul, a bombing took place. Therefore, shots that included the cast were never shot in Istanbul, according to Apted, due to security reasons. Not a single cast member went to Istanbul. The shots of Robert Carlyle and his men getting off the boat on the jetty at “Elektra's” (Sophie Marceau's) palace were shot in the tank at Pinewood against a bluescreen or greenscreen. This was the first James Bond movie to be shot in Pinewood Studios since THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS (1987). Shooting in the French Alps also proved to be impossible due to avalanches, so the scenes were shifted to Spain.

The scene in which Bond grabs the cables on the Millennium Dome required extraordinarily difficult stunt work. In the final cut, Michael Apted intentionally left in a shot of one of the stuntmen missing a cable he was attempting to grab. Apted included the miscue in order to highlight how difficult the scene had been to film, and as an honor to the stunt performers who worked on the movie.

David Arnold’s score for the film was released by Radioactive/MCA Records. La-La Land released an expanded version of the score in 2018. The $135 million production was the highest grossing Bond film to date, with a $362 million world-wide take.

Desmond Llewelyn (Q) died in a car accident soon after this movie was released. Llewellyn said just before his death that he was planning to appear in the next Bond movie. The video release was dedicated to Llewelyn, and featured a tribute montage of his appearances in seventeen Bond movies over thirty-six years.

Pierce Brosnan and Desmond Llewelyn in THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH

 Posted:   Jan 18, 2021 - 4:37 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

ENIGMA was the name of the code system used by the Germans during World War II. A convoy is setting out from the U.S. to England and the Soviet Union with urgently needed supplies. Two Nazi U-Boat wolf packs are lying in wait somewhere on the high seas. The Germans have switched codes and have added a fourth tumbler to their Enigma machines on the U-Boats. The code breakers at Bletchley, England have to start over again to break this new variant of the Enigma code. In desperation, the government brings back the man primarily responsible for breaking the original Enigma submarine code variant known as "shark," a brilliant mathematician named “Tom Jericho” (Dougray Scott). The only problem is, Jericho suffered a nervous breakdown after breaking the shark code, and no one knows if he will hold up under the strain this time. One of the reasons for Jericho's collapse was a broken romance with the beautiful “Claire Romilly” (Saffron Burrows), a woman who also works at Bletchley.

Michael Apted directed the 2001 thriller. ENIGMA was the final feature film with a full music score composed by John Barry. DECCA released the score. The film was little-seen in the U.S., grossing only $4.3 million. The international take of $11.4 million was much better. Michael Apted was nominated as Best Director at the British Independent Film Awards. He lost to Jonathan Glazer for SEXY BEAST.

 Posted:   Jan 19, 2021 - 12:39 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

After running away fails, a terrified woman (Jennifer Lopez) finally says ENOUGH and empowers herself in order to battle her abusive husband (Billy Campbell). Director Michael Apted was initially wary about working with Jennifer Lopez, as he had heard rumors that she was a diva. However, he found her to be completely professional throughout the shoot.

David Arnold’s score was released by Varese Sarabande. The $38 million production barely broke even in the U.S., with a $40 million gross. Overseas grosses were a disappointing $12 million.

 Posted:   Jan 19, 2021 - 10:57 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

AMAZING GRACE told the true story of idealist William Wilberforce (Ioan Gruffudd), who maneuvers his way through Parliament, endeavoring to end the British transatlantic slave trade. Benedict Cumberbatch plays Prime Minister William Pitt, and Albert Finney is John Newton, a former slave trader turned Anglican clergyman and abolitionist. Newton would go on to write the words for the hymn "Amazing Grace."

Production company Walden Media, a family-based entertainment company, surprised director Michael Apted by not being interested in portraying Wilberforce as a youthful leader. They were initially opposed to the casting of Ioan Gruffudd, despite his appearance in the Fantastic Four film franchise. Apted placated them by ensuring the rest of the cast was filled with seasoned veterans.

Michael Apted on the set of AMAZING GRACE

The scene where William Wilberforce sings "Amazing Grace" at the card house was sung by Ioan Gruffudd at that moment. Michael Apted had no idea whether or not Gruffudd could actually sing. Little did he know, Ioan is an accomplished soloist and choir singer. With a little practice, Ioan performed for the first time on-set while the cameras were rolling, all much to the surprise of the cast, crew, and director.

Sparrow Records/EMI released David Arnold's score for the 2007 release, as well as a separate CD of new recordings of traditional hymns inspired by the film. The picture did well for a film with its subject matter, racking up a $32 million world-wide gross.

 Posted:   Jan 20, 2021 - 3:08 AM   
 By:   KeV McG   (Member)

Great stuff as usual, Bob.
A pleasure to read.
Your thread has inspired me to replay some of the scores, mentioned in here, that I own and even purchase one (for a decent price) that I didn't, save for a suite on compilations (Gorillas In The Mist).

 Posted:   Jan 20, 2021 - 12:47 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

Walden Media must have been pleased with the work that Michael Apted did on AMAZING GRACE, since they next hired him to direct 2010’s THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER, the third of the “Chronicles of Narnia” series of films. In the film, “Edmund and Lucy Pevensie” (Skandar Keynes and Georgie Henley), along with their priggish cousin, “Eustace Scrubb” (Will Poulter), return to Narnia, three years after their last departure. Once there, they join the voyage of “Caspian” (Ben Barnes) on the ship Dawn Treader to find the seven lords who were banished when Miraz took over the throne. This perilous journey brings them face to face with many wonders and dangers as they sail toward Aslan's country at the edge of the world.

Michael Apted chose to remove Prince Caspian's Spanish accent, as he didn't like it, and it didn't service the character well. Simon Pegg replaced Eddie Izzard as the voice of Reepicheep, as Apted felt his voice was more mature and serious.

Michael Apted and Georgie Henley on the set of THE VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER

Apted had been warned by Gore Verbinski (PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN) and Peter Weir (MASTER AND COMMANDER) not to film on the open seas, as it's simply too problematic and unpredictable. Instead, a giant gimbal was constructed in a studio, so the Dawn Treader set could be rocked as if at sea.

The first film in THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA series, THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE (2005) grossed $745 million. The second film, PRINCE CASPIAN (2008) did not fare as well as expected at the box office, grossing only $420 million. So, the Walt Disney Company decided for budgetary and logistical reasons not to co-produce and co-finance this, or any of the following chapters of the Narnia series. Paramount Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Universal Studios, Columbia Pictures, Lionsgate and Warner Bros. all lobbied to take on the franchise, with Fox getting the nod. Ironically, Disney would end up owning the film anyway with their acquisition of 20th Century Fox. On top of the $140 million budget of VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER, another $100 million was spent on marketing. The film grossed a disappointing $416 million, and to date, no further films from the seven-book series have been forthcoming.

THE VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER was composer David Arnold's fourth collaboration with Michael Apted. Arnold’s score was released by Sony Classical.

 Posted:   Jan 20, 2021 - 11:10 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

CHASING MAVERICKS was Curtis Hanson's final film as a director. Johnny Weston co-starred as young surfer “Jay Moriarity,” who discovers that the mythic Mavericks surf break, one of the biggest waves on Earth, exists just miles from his Santa Cruz home. He enlists the help of local legend “Frosty Hesson” (Gerard Butler) to train him to survive it. Weston was hired with no prior film or commercial acting work. He was discovered via an audition video he submitted to a casting website where anyone who's looking for modeling or acting work can sign up, create a profile, and audition for work.

As shooting on this true-life story neared its end, Curtis Hanson had to pull out for health reasons. Michael Apted directed the last three weeks of principal photography. Stepping into Curtis Hanson's shoes at such short notice was a daunting experience for Apted. He arrived on a Sunday, and started working the next day with a cast he'd never met, a crew he didn't know, and on locations he'd never seen.

When Hanson proved to be in too poor of health to return, Apted ended up overseeing all of the post-production work and completing the final cut of the film without Hanson's involvement. Apted received a co-directing credit on the film along with Hanson.

Although filmed for only $20 million, CHASING MAVERICKS still bombed at the U.S. box office, grossing only $6 million. The score by Chad Fischer claimed one of the 10 tracks on the Sony CD of songs that was issued from the indie rock soundtrack.

 Posted:   Jan 21, 2021 - 10:52 AM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

Michael Apted’s final fiction film was UNLOCKED, a thriller that follows “Alice” (Noomi Rapace), who years ago worked for the CIA as an interrogator, helping to crack numerous terrorist operations. Now, after a disaster in Paris, she’s taken a desk job in London, laying low. When evidence surfaces that a top Muslim community leader is trying to communicate with known terrorist Mercer, the CIA hopes to call Alice back into duty, needing her special set of skills before leads are lost. With help from old mentor “Eric” (Michael Douglas) and MI5 Agent “Knowles” (Toni Collette), Alice is tasked with the interrogation of a courier, only to discover that the entire operation is a sham. Now on the run, Alice struggles to put together available loyalties, eventually finding a tentative partner in “Jack” (Orlando Bloom), an ex-Marine who’s caught up in the terrorist hunt.

Michael Apted was inspired to cast Orlando Bloom after seeing him in the 2013 crime drama ZULU. Stephen Barton’s score for the 2017 film did not get a release. The film had a limited release in the U.S. and did poorly overseas, with only a $4.7 million worldwide gross.

 Posted:   Jan 21, 2021 - 10:30 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

Michael Apted’s final film project was the latest installment of the UP series, 2019’s 63 UP. That series and his other documentaries had prompted the International Documentary Association to give Apted their Career Achievement Award in 1999.

Apted had started another television series in 2003, MARRIED IN AMERICA, which follows seven American couples from a wide variety of backgrounds, as they are about to embark upon marriage. Only one other installment of the series, MARRIED IN AMERICA 2, was produced, in 2006.

In 2018, Michael Apted was given an Honorary Life Member Award from the Directors Guild of America. In 2003, Apted had been made President of the DGA.

Michael Apted was awarded the C.M.G. (Companion of the Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George) for his services to the British film and television industries in the 2008 Queen's Birthday Honors List.

Speaking about the UP series, Apted once remarked: “There aren't many pieces of work, especially in film, that have the patience or the longevity or the time to honor the drama of ordinary life. And after all, the drama of what we all have to go through - children, jobs, marriage, the things that touch us - is the big drama of life, far more so than the drama of movies and television.”

Whether it is the drama of real lives of that of fictional ones, Michael Apted leaves a legacy of film that will continue to enrich and entertain people for years to come. Bon voyage, Michael.

 Posted:   Jan 22, 2021 - 4:06 AM   
 By:   KeV McG   (Member)

Just a heads up that one of his earliest films, P'TANG YANG KIPPERBANG (1982 TV movie), is getting a showing on Film 4 in the UK in the early hours of next Tuesday morning (25th Jan - 2.00am).
This was one of the first films shown on the newly launched Channel 4 in the UK (shown on its second day in existence).
It's a sweet, innocent little drama, set in post war England, about a young boy wanting to kiss a childhood sweetheart.
I remember watching it back when it was shown. I was but a wee teenager myself.
It's a quirky, good natured drama. Nothing big or dramatic, but the world seems a better place after you've watched it.
I remember the boy is obsessed with cricket and narrates the story in a cricket style commentary.
The odd title refers to a password, used by the boys, to gain access to their gang hideout (if my memory serves me).

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