Some friends and I noticed something very subtle in the first official behind-the-scenes exposé of SPECTRE that was released a while back. Here’s the video, if you haven’t seen it:
At about the 30-second mark, there’s an interview with Associate Producer, Gregg Wilson. Gregg is the son of Michael G. Wilson, stepson of the late Albert “Cubby” Broccoli, the original producer of the Bond films. Michael G. Wilson has served as Executive Producer for the Bond franchise since Moonraker (1979). His sister, Barbara Broccoli, joined him as Executive Producer on GoldenEye (1995) and the two have been the sole voice for the films on behalf of the Broccoli family since Albert Broccoli passed away in 1996.
(From left to right, director Sam Mendes, Michael G. Wilson, Barbara Broccoli, & Daniel Craig)
I have often wondered what might happen to the Bond franchise at a point at which Barbara and Michael G. retire from producing the films. It is extremely rare, and special, in Hollywood to have a blockbuster franchise essentially “owned” by a family. A Bond movie doesn’t get made unless Barbara and Michael G. want to make it. Having this family influence, I feel, has attributed to the character’s enduring popularity.
Bond movies aren't studio-made, in the sense of Disney's Marvel Cinematic Universe. Yes, there is a studio, but these films maintain a level of creative and artistic independence. The family works in conjunction with the studio, respectful of it corporate needs, always remaining fiscally responsible, not reckless, with the brand. But the family has the ultimate say on how Bond is presented on screen. This has allowed the movies to breathe, endure, re-invent themselves, and remain relevant through each passing era.
I honestly can’t think of another mega-budget franchise today where creative ownership lies with the producers, not the studio. The closest might have been George Lucas until he sold Lucasfilm to Disney.
Would the Broccoli family follow a similar path? Perhaps on the verge of retirement, Barbara and Michael G. could have decided to sell their “rights” to Bond to Sony, for example, for a billion dollars. Would this be the end of a dying breed of the independent producer with the ultimate voice?
Seeing the interview with Gregg Wilson in the SPECTRE exposé put a smile on my face.
As Associate Producer, Gregg, by all appearances, seems to be following in the footsteps of his father and his aunt, learning how to make a Bond movie the old fashioned way, the family way, by rising through the ranks.
Michael G. Wilson’s experience on a Bond set goes as far back as Goldfinger (1964) with an uncredited “Third Assistant Director” role. His first credited role was as “Special Assistant to Producer” on The Spy Who Loved Me (1977). Barbara Broccoli’s first role was as “Executive Assistant” on Octopussy (1983) before becoming an Associate Producer on The Living Daylights (1987).
Gregg Wilson got his start as “Development Assistant” on Die Another Day (2002), worked as an Assistant Editor on Casino Royale (2006) and officially became an Associate Producer with Skyfall (2012).
I don’t recall seeing any interviews with Gregg in any documentaries for Skyfall but find it particularly poignant seeing him as the first crew member introduced for SPECTRE.
Cubby was keen on having his family with him on location while shooting Bond films, and this gave him the opportunity to have his children learn the family business. It certainly seems Gregg is following the family tradition, and in doing so, he is allowing the tradition of this family to continue.
It will be interesting to see how Gregg’s influence rises through each new Bond film. I’d have to imagine we will eventually see his name as Executive Producer alongside Barbara and Michael G. before one day taking over the reigns entirely.
Should this be the case, there will be something comforting in knowing there will still be a family voice speaking louder than a corporate voice as the keeper of this amazing and historical film franchise, which continues to withstand the odds and remain intact generation after generation.
All because of “family.”