Now that the first Young Bond adventure, Silverfin, has become a bestseller in the United Kingdom, Hollywood has reportedly come knocking.
Several articles published in British newspapers this Sunday (Guardian Unlimited, Sunday Herald) suggest that sooner or later Higson’s Young James Bond will make it to the big screen. Publisher Puffin Books for example argues the phenomenon will grow into a serious challenger to the biggest names in the children’s crossover market, but the Ian Fleming estate, which is in charge of administering the original Bond author’s works and commissioned Higson’s book, is determined to withstand Hollywood pressure to make a film until the new works are established in their own right.
"We are not doing a film deal yet because we are confident that the books can stand alone for a while. Book buyers everywhere keep telling us they would buy the title even if it was nothing to do with a strong brand like Bond, simply because it is so well written," said Corinne Turner of the Fleming estate. "We know Miramax, who are publishing the book in the United States, are very interested in the film rights too, and so are some of other big names, but we are holding off. The next Higson book will come out in January and we have the manuscript already. The estate has done other continuations of the Bond story in the past – Kingsley Amis wrote one, for example – but we wanted to see if we could take the story back in time. We wanted to go back to Ian’s original style."
Zoe Watkins of Ian Fleming Publications adds in The Sunday Herald that, “There has been a great deal of interest in the film rights across the board.” Watkins says she expects if the books sold well they would be turned into films, but there is no timescale at present. “We are concentrating on getting the books out there and established in their own right,” she said.
But according to the Guardian, this hardline strategy has not stopped film companies like Miramax and DreamWorks from making heavy pitches. The studios have spotted the commercial potential of a "Harry Potter" film series. The estate has also been approached by British film companies, including Heyday Films, the English company that makes the Harry Potter movies for Warner Bros. “We have looked at it, but no decision has been made yet,” said a spokesman.
Charlie Higson himself thinks that a Young James Bond movie has to be shot in Scotland. "I thought I should take James Bond to Scotland, because Ian Fleming said in the obituary that his father was Scottish and the family was from Glencoe." He added: "I just thought it made sense to send him up there and show a bit of that world, particularly as I think it’s a fantastic bit of the world. It is such dramatic, bleak, empty countryside, it lends itself perfectly to the kind of action adventure that James Bond goes on. Scotland is so photogenic and fantastic."
However, it seems that Eon Productions, makers of the adult James Bond films (who are current prepping Casino Royale for 2006), automatically control ALL film rights to Bond, young and old, and it is highly unlikely to see them making a movie of SilverFin anymore than they would make a movie of the 007 continuation novels by John Gardner and Raymond Benson. So – is this news only part of the SilverFin marketing campaign? Or has Ian Fleming Publications and Hollywood discovered a loophole in Eon’s tightly held films rights?
Pre-order the U.S. hardcover edition of SilverFin (April 27, 2005)
Pre-order the U.S. paperback edition of SilverFin (April 27, 2005)