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How long can James Bond resist the call of a TV spin-off? | James Bond

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James Bond’s next mission should be a TV spin-off as 007 contemplates his future in the streaming era, according to experts, but the secret agent’s gatekeepers are wary of moving away from the multiplex.

The Bond films have proved a consistent draw for millions of cinemagoers since Dr No was released nearly 60 years ago, with the last two entries in the franchise, Skyfall and Spectre, making a combined $2bn (£1.5bn) at the global box office.

However, the rise of Netflix, Disney+, Apple TV+ and Amazon Prime is already reshaping Hollywood as studios scramble to launch their own streaming services and spin-offs. Last year, Netflix’s subscriber numbers rose 22% to 203 million while worldwide box office revenues, hammered by Covid, fell by more than two-thirds.

The world’s biggest film studio, Disney, has achieved critical success with the Marvel offshoot Wandavision and the Star Wars series The Mandalorian on its Disney+ platform, with streaming experts pointing to Bond as an obvious candidate for the switch to TV after his 26th outing in No Time to Die.

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Who could be the new James Bond?

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Daniel Craig has played Bond in five films since 2006: Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, Skyfall, Spectre and No Time to Die. Here are the latest odds on who will take over as the next 007, as supplied by the bookmaker William Hill.

Tom Hardy – 5/2 odds

Hardy is no stranger to action-espionage films, having starred in Christopher Nolan’s Inception and The Dark Knight. The 44-year-old earned plaudits for his role in films such as Mad Max and The Revenant, and notably declined to speak about 007 when rumours first surfaced in 2017.

Regé-Jean Page – 3/1

Page, 31, who played the dashing Duke of Hastings in Netflix’s period drama Bridgerton, has been the internet’s choice to land the role amid news that he will star alongside Bond actor Ana de Armas in The Gray Man. In the past year there has been a high demand for Page, who will also feature in Dungeons and Dragons.

James Norton – 3/1

Norton’s Hollywood credentials have continued to grow, from appearances in Grantchester to Happy Valley. The 36-year-old’s turn as Alex Goodman in the crime drama McMafia and more recently in Netflix’s Things Heard & Seen have thrust him further into the spotlight.

Luke Evans – 6/1

Evans, 42, has said he would “jump at the chance” to play Bond. The Welsh actor is best known for his roles as Owen Shaw in Fast and Furious 6 and as Bard the Bowman in The Hobbit. Most recently, he starred alongside Nicole Kidman in Amazon’s Nine Perfect Strangers.

Idris Elba – 8/1

There has been plenty of chatter ever since Elba, 49, posted a photo on Instagram with that Bond caption back in 2018. Known for his high-octane action stunts in the hit BBC crime drama Luther, many hope he will be the first Black Bond.

Henry Cavill – 8/1

Cavill was almost cast as 007 ahead of Craig, having auditioned for Casino Royale. With much being made of the suitability of the 38-year-old’s muscular physique and his turn as Superman, the time could be ripe for him to take up the mantle of 007.

Suranne Jones – 9/1

Jones, the star of the BBC’s underwater thriller Vigil, has been added to the list of potential candidates. The 43-year-old, who plays DCI Amy Silva in the drama, also won plaudits for her roles in the BBC’s Dr Foster and Gentleman Jack.

Lashana Lynch – 10/1

There were rumours that Craig’s current co-star Lashana Lynch, 33, was being set up as the next Bond, but it’s since been revealed she’s playing an agent in her own right.

Henry Golding – 25/1

The Crazy Rich Asians star could become the first British-Asian Bond, having described the vacancy as an “opportunity for change”. Golding, 34, has said he’s more than happy to play Bond.

Jodie Comer – 200/1

The 28-year-old Killing Eve star could be in the running after declaring her willingness to play Villanelle in a Bond crossover, particularly with the Fleabag and Killing Eve creator Phoebe Waller-Bridge as one of the lead Bond screenwriters.

Other names that have been touted include the Game of Thrones and Bodyguard star Richard Madden, The Night Manager’s Tom Hiddleston and Peaky Blinders’ Cillian Murphy.

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“There is always value in expanding the universe of IP due to superfans and audiences for different mediums,” says Andrew Uerkwitz of the US financial firm Jefferies, who adds that Marvel’s successful move into films, TV and video games indicates the potential.

“It would make sense to do the same with the Bond series.”

Singling out Disney’s TV success with the Marvel and Star Wars brands, Michael Pachter, a Netflix analyst at the investment firm Wedbush Securities, says: “I think that valuable IP [intellectual property] and valuable brands can be very successful if used across multiple formats. And absolutely, Bond is that valuable because it has lasted nearly 60 years. It’s a lasting franchise.”

Expectations of a Bond spin-off were raised this year when Amazon bought the studio that distributes the franchise, MGM, for $8.5bn (£6.2bn). This gave Jeff Bezos’s e-commerce behemoth co-ownership of the films with Eon Productions, a family-run business controlled by Barbara Broccoli – the daughter of the original Bond producer, Albert R Broccoli – and her half-brother Michael G Wilson.

Eon retains creative control of the franchise, right down to who plays Bond, the marketing campaigns behind the films and whether 007 appears in a mini-series. So far, Broccoli and Wilson have ruled out a TV foray, even with the backing of a new business partner that is spending $465m alone on one series of its Lord of the Rings TV adaptation.

When Total Film asked Broccoli this year whether she was against a spin-off, she said: “You got it. We make films. We make films for the cinema. That’s what we do.” Wilson added: “We’ve resisted that call for 60 years.”

One British producer with experience of making programmes for streamers, meanwhile, suggests a TV 007 could be construed as “Bond-lite”.

“One of the unique selling points of Bond is it is sumptuous and at massive scale,” says Kate Harwood, the managing director of Euston Films, which has made shows for the US streaming service Hulu.

“I say this with love, but you wouldn’t want to be turning it into Spooks, or [Amazon’s] Jack Ryan. They’re great but doing it with Bond I think you would be cruising for a bruising. It is a brand, a movie brand, but of course you could. But it is not about could. With the Marvel Universe there are lots of different characters and producers can go in at many different levels, but there is only one Bond.”

Instead, Bezos and Amazon – which has 200 million Prime subscribers worldwide – are likely to focus on other MGM properties among the newly acquired studio’s 17,000 TV shows and 4,000 films, which include the Rocky series, Legally Blonde, The Pink Panther and Robocop.

Announcing the deal in May, Bezos said he looked forward to “reimagining” MGM’s vast back catalogue for the 21st Century.

But for the James Bond franchise, the next reincarnation will be whoever replaces Daniel Craig – on the big screen.

Franchise conundrums

Franchises are not just the backbone of today’s cinema but its entire eco-skeleton. Yet how film-makers navigate the evolution of a known brand without alienating nostalgists can decide whether they are set for life or cancelled for ever.

Rocky

Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa in the 1985 film Rocky IV.
Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa in the 1985 film Rocky IV. Photograph: Allstar/United Artists

Bond’s gatekeepers can take inspiration from the happy makeover of one of MGM’s key brands. Forty years after Sylvester Stallone’s pugilist threw his first punch, the studio released Creed, starring Black Panther’s Michael B Jordan, directed by the Oscar-nominated Ryan Coogler, and featuring Stallone – and many of the original cast in supporting roles. The strong dotted line to the first films sated fans and kept things kosher, but the franchise was successfully freshened, diversified and lent real credibility by the canny choice of the cast and crew.

Harry Potter

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, 2005.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, 2005. Photograph: Album/Alamy

Substantial revenue lies untapped in the JK Rowling’s universe, currently hobbled by controversies surrounding the author’s own views, and the tarnished reputation of Johnny Depp, the star of the prequel series Fantastic Beasts (replaced by Mads Mikkelsen for the third instalment). Further diversification will be a prerequisite to bring along the generation that grew up with the first Harry Potter films. The eventual transfer of Rowling’s Cursed Child sequel stage plays to the cinema requires immaculate management.

Pink Panther

Peter Sellers as chief inspector Jacques Clouseau in the 1968 film The Pink Panther Strikes Again.
Peter Sellers as chief inspector Jacques Clouseau in the 1968 film The Pink Panther Strikes Again. Photograph: United Artists/Allstar

MGM’s chief untapped asset is the slapstick classics starring Peter Sellers as a hapless detective – which for a younger audience may play like relics from an unimaginably baffling (and dubious) era. Yet this lack of brand awareness may be an advantage for a modern update: clear blue water can easily be pumped between any new iteration and the movies still revisited by a substantially older generation.

Star Wars

BB-8, John Boyega and Kelly Marie Tran in the 2017 film Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
BB-8, John Boyega and Kelly Marie Tran in the 2017 film Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Photograph: Lucasfilmdisney/Allstar

Hardcore Star Wars fans are second only to James Bond devotees when it comes to keeping the film-makers up to speed with their suggestions. But while Daniel Craig’s appointment sparked a relatively inoffensive blog outraged by the prospect of a blond Bond, many of the new Star Wars cast – were subject to large-scale racist hate campaigns. How the franchise can evolve while keeping traditionalist aficionados on side presents a considerable challenge.

Fast & Furious

Elsa Pataky and Dwayne Johnson in the 2011 Fast Five: Fast & Furious.
Elsa Pataky and Dwayne Johnson in the 2011 Fast Five: Fast & Furious. Photograph: Jaimie Trueblood/Universal Pictures/Allstar

The unlikely success of the soapy saga about a group of ethnically mixed pals in small vests and whopping motors will finally run out of gas in 2024, with a two-part, 10th film finale. Creative later hires such as Jason Statham, Charlize Theron and Helen Mirren have broadened the appeal, but the post-2024 future looks uncertain, with most of the key cast then well into their 50s. A series featuring their sprogs seems the obvious initial offering; a stage transfer involving huge trucks met with mixed reviews.

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Russian-backed rulers of Costa Rican hacktocracy? • The Register

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In brief The notorious Russian-aligned Conti ransomware gang has upped the ante in its attack against Costa Rica, threatening to overthrow the government if it doesn’t pay a $20 million ransom. 

Costa Rican president Rodrigo Chaves said that the country is effectively at war with the gang, who in April infiltrated the government’s computer systems, gaining a foothold in 27 agencies at various government levels. The US State Department has offered a $15 million reward leading to the capture of Conti’s leaders, who it said have made more than $150 million from 1,000+ victims.

Conti claimed this week that it has insiders in the Costa Rican government, the AP reported, warning that “We are determined to overthrow the government by means of a cyber attack, we have already shown you all the strength and power, you have introduced an emergency.” 

Experts who spoke to the AP said they doubt actual regime change is likely, or the goal; Emsisoft analyst Brett Callow told the newswire that the threats are simply noise, and not to be taken seriously.

Callow may be right: News unfolding late this week suggests that Conti has gone offline, and may be breaking into several subsidiary groups. Its political ambitions in Costa Rica may just be a distraction, albeit one that could also turn a tidy profit. 

NSA: Trust us, no post-quantum encryption backdoors

The NSA wants to ease everyone’s concerns now: Even though it’s been involved in the US government’s post-quantum encryption research, the spy agency won’t have a backdoor.

Speaking to Bloomberg while discussing the National Institute for Standards and Technology’s post-quantum encryption competition, NSA Director of Cybersecurity (and Christmas-tree hacker) Rob Joyce said the new standards being developed are so strong that “there are no backdoors.” 

That would be a departure from previous encryption standards, which the NSA is believed to have had ready access to – until foreign spies acquired a copy of the backdoor software for their own use. The Biden administration recently announced additional funding for post-quantum encryption research, which aims to develop a form of protecting sensitive data so secure that even a quantum computer couldn’t crack it. 

The US has been actively working to develop encryption standards able to stand up to quantum computers for some time; Joyce claimed to Bloomberg that the NSA has had its own post-quantum encryption algorithms for several years, but those aren’t part of the NIST competition or available to the public. 

Despite spending tens of millions to address the security problems posed by quantum computers, the NSA also readily admits that it has no idea when, or even if, quantum computers able to crack modern public key cryptography will be realized. 

Frustrated IT admin gets seven years for deleting company databases

A former database administrator from China who wiped out his employer’s financial records has been sentenced to seven years in prison as a result.

Han Bing, who managed databases for Chinese real estate brokerage Lianjia, allegedly used his administrator access and root privileges to log in to two of Lianjia’s database servers, and two application servers, where he wiped financial data and related applications that took the company’s entire finance system offline, said Chinese news sources. 

Bing was reportedly disgruntled with his employer. He repeatedly warned them of security flaws in Lianjia’s finance system but felt ignored and undervalued, Lianjia’s ethics chief testified in court. Bing’s actions directly cost the company around $27,000 to recover data and rebuilt systems, but that doesn’t include the impact of lost business.

Bing was caught when Lianjia questioned everyone with access to the financial systems who had permissions to do what Bing did, of whom there were only five. The company claims that Bing acted suspiciously when asked to present his laptop for inspection, refusing to provide his password and claiming privacy privileges. 

The company said it suspected none of the laptops would show traces of the attack, but wanted to see how those it questioned would react. Investigators were later able to recover logs that pointed to Bing’s laptop’s IP and MAC addresses, and crosschecking logs against security footage put Bing in the right place at the right time to be the guilty party.

Apple patches a whopping 98 separate vulnerabilities

Apple has had a busy week: In a series of security updates released Monday and Wednesday, the iMaker patched 98 separate vulnerabilities out of its various software platforms.

The updates in question cover most every bit of software Apple makes: WatchOS, iOS and iPad OS, macOS Monterey, Big Sur and Catalina, Xcode, tvOS, Safari and iTunes for Windows were all included. Most of the vulnerabilities are from the past few months, but one common vulnerability and exposure (CVE) number covered by the updates dates back to 2015.

A few of the vulnerabilities covered by this week’s glut of Apple patches were rolled out previously for one system, but not others, as was the case with CVE-2022-22674 and -22675, which were patched in macOS Monterey, but not older versions, in April. Those vulnerabilities were reportedly being actively exploited at the time. 

Malicious applications executing arbitrary code with kernel privileges appears to be the most common type of hole being closed in this round of patches, though some do stand out, like Apple Watch bugs that could let apps capture the screen and bypass signature validation.

On iOS, vulnerabilities patched include websites being able to track users in Safari private browsing mode, while macOS users are being protected against apps being able to bypass Privacy preferences and access restricted portions of the filesystem.

Russian-backing Chaos ransomware variant is pure destruction

Cybersecurity firm Fortinet has discovered a variant of the Chaos ransomware that professes support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but appears to have no decryption key to rescue victims in Putin’s regime. 

The variant appears to have been compiled with Chaos’ GUI customization tool as recently as May 16, Fortinet said. The researchers said they’re unsure how the Chaos variant infects its victims, and said the variant doesn’t act any differently than typical Chaos ransomware. 

Like other forms of Chaos, it enumerates files on infected systems, and irrevocably damages any larger than around 2MB by filling it with random bytes. Anything smaller is encrypted, but recoverable with a key. Chaos also typically attacks commonly used directories like Desktop, Contacts, Downloads and Pictures, which are encrypted entirely. 

Here’s where this Chaos variant differs: It’s overtly political, and instead of offering contact info and a ransom demand, the malware simply says “Stop Ukraine War! F**k Zelensky! Dont [sic] go die for f**king clown,” along with a pair of links to sites claiming to belong to the Information Coordination Center, but offering no information otherwise. Files are also encrypted with a “f**kazov” extension, likely referring to the Ukrainian Azov Battalion.

Fortinet said that this Chaos variant appears unique in the sense it appears designed to be file-destroying malware. “This particular variant provides no such avenue as the attacker has no intent on providing a decryption tool … clearly, the motive behind this malware is destruction,” Fortinet said. 

The FortiGuard team behind the research warns that with its GUI, Chaos ransomware has become a commodity product, and it expects additional attacks of this variety to emerge. ®



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UCD-led research finds potential treatment for advanced eye cancer

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The team said their research could help improve treatment options for advanced uveal melanoma, which currently has a poor survival rate.

An international team of researchers led by University College Dublin (UCD) have uncovered a potential treatment for a type of cancer that effects the eye.

The researchers looked at uveal melanoma (UM), the most common form of eye cancer which is diagnosed in 50 to 60 people in Ireland each year. The team explained that UM begins in the middle layer of the eye, but if it spreads to the liver and other parts of the body, patients have a poor survival prognosis.

Future Human

In their study, the team aimed to uncover treatment options for the advanced stage of this eye cancer, as it becomes very difficult to treat once it has spread.

The researchers focused on a drug called ACY-1215, which is currently in clinical trials for other solid tumours and blood cancers. This drug belongs to a relatively new group of anticancer drugs called histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDACi).

“We wanted to understand how ACY-1215 works to prevent tumour cell growth and spread, in the context of UM,” said postdoctoral researcher Dr Husvinee Sundaramurthi.

Histones are proteins that provide structural support for DNA in cells, allowing DNA to be tightly packaged together. The researchers said these proteins act like a spool that a thread of DNA can wrap itself around.

In the study, the team used the drug ACY-1215 to interfere with the histones in advanced UM cells, to stop the processes involved in their survival and growth.

“We uncovered the particular molecules that may be involved in the anticancer effects the drug ACY-1215 has in advanced UM cells,” said study lead Prof Breandan Kennedy.

“This study will pave the way to look more closely at the benefits of using HDACi, specifically ACY-1215, as a suitable treatment option for advanced UM.”

Kennedy said that by understanding the therapeutic potential of the small molecules involved in the anticancer effects, researchers can improve UM patient care and create personalised treatment strategies.

The international research team involved groups from Spain, Sweden and Ireland. Funding was provided through grants from the Irish Research Council, in collaboration with Breakthrough Cancer Research, UCD’s TopMed10, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions CoFund Programme and Horizon 2020.

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Crypto is starting to lose its cool – just look at El Salvador | Rowan Moore

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To its evangelists, bitcoin is a frictionless, empowering form of money that liberates citizens of the world from the shackles of banks and national governments. To sceptics, the cryptocurrency is a tool of kleptocrats and gangsters, environmentally monstrous in its consumption of energy, a digitally glamorised Ponzi scheme whose eventual crash will most hurt those least able to afford a loss.

Confidence may or may not have been enhanced by the unveiling, by President Nayib Bukele, of images of a proposed bitcoin-shaped Bitcoin City in El Salvador, funded with a bitcoin bond, the currency’s logo embedded in the central plaza, a metropolis powered with geothermal energy from a nearby volcano. Bukele, the self-styled “coolest dictator in the world”, a former publicist who wears baseball caps back to front, has already made El Salvador the first country to adopt bitcoin as the official currency. “The plan is simple,” he said. “As the world falls into tyranny, we’ll create a haven for freedom.”

Leaving aside the worrisome Pompeii vibe of the city’s location, some shine has come off the president’s vision with the news that the country’s investments in cryptocurrency have lost 45% of their value, that it scores CCC with the credit rating agency Fitch, and that the perceived risk of its bonds is up there with that of war-torn Ukraine. And Bukele’s talk of freedom doesn’t sit well with Amnesty International’s claim that his recent state of emergency has created “a perfect storm of human rights violations”.

But why worry about any of this when you have shiny computer-generated images of a fantasy city to distract you?

Unsecured credit line

Boris Johnson waves his arms behind a podium with the Elizabeth line sign.
The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan looks on as Boris Johnson gives a speech at Paddington station on 17 May 2022. Photograph: Reuters

The use of constructional bluster by populist leaders – Trump’s wall, for example – is not in itself anything new. See also the island airport, garden bridge, Irish Sea bridge, 40 new hospitals and 300,000 homes a year promised but not delivered by Boris Johnson, and the nuclear power stations he has implausibly pledged to build at a rate of one a year.

Last week his fondness for Potemkin infrastructure took a new twist. Rather than over-promise illusory schemes and under-deliver them, he decided to take credit for something actually built, the £19bn Elizabeth line in London, formerly known as Crossrail, whose central section opens to the public on Tuesday. “We get the big things done,” he boasted to the House of Commons, choosing to ignore the fact that the line was initiated under a Labour prime minister and a Labour mayor of London. He almost makes Nayib Bukele look credible.

Behind the red wall

Characters from The House of Shades gather around a table on stage
Mounting misery: The House of Shades. Photograph: Helen Murray

If you want a light-hearted night out – a date, a birthday treat – then The House of Shades, a new play by Beth Steel, might not, unless you are an unusual person, be for you. It is a cross between Greek tragedy and what was once called kitchen sink drama, a story of ever-mounting misery set in a Nottinghamshire town from 1965 to 2019. It covers the collapse of manufacturing, the rise of Thatcherism, the promises of New Labour and the disillusionment that led to “red wall” seats voting Conservative in 2019.

It features illegal abortion, graphically portrayed, and the effects of inflation, both newly significant. All presented at the Almeida theatre in the famously metropolitan London borough of Islington, not far from the former restaurant where Tony Blair and Gordon Brown did the 1994 deal that shaped some of the events in the play. There’s irony here to make this audience squirm. Which, along with several other not-comfortable emotions, is probably the desired effect.

Rowan Moore is the Observer’s architecture correspondent

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