Written by Kevin Collette
On Thursday, November the 9th, less than a week after Eon’s first official London screening of their latest instalment in the most prolific series of films of the world, Carta Mundi, the Belgian company which created the official cards and casino chips for Casino Royale offered its own luxurious private event.
The place: Brussels magnificent Grand Casino, of course…
Bond aficionados will remember that Carta Mundi was already an official Die Another Day licensee. This time around though, the Belgian company went a step further, creating and designing the official Poker and casino chips used by Bond against Le Chiffre in the Montenegro Casino sequence.
My Belgian TV crew and myself arrived a little earlier–for security reasons, the casino insisted on checking personally each I.D’s of the guests, but we had been warned by the efficient Carta Mundi P.R and were put straight on a ‘safe list’.
Although a very ‘hush hush’ event–where we were promised indeed to see large extracts of the movie, various animations around Casino Tables amidst scantily-clad dressed Casino female assistants, and official presentation of the Casino Royale products–I managed to be one of the very few foreign TV journalists invited to attend the selected event–thanks to the adorable Carta Mundi P.R and staff.
You can view the TV report that appeared on the VTM channel by following [this link](http://www.vtm.be/asx/vtmnieuws/vtmnieuws13uur_Do.asx). Scan forward to the 30th minute of the News Program of Thursday, November the 9th.
After being asked for our own I.D cards (and given back a permanent nominative Casino Credit card-type Pass in return), the guests were ushered on to the first floor, toward the private screening room. Decorated with laser-created Bond silhouettes, very Maurice Binder’esque, on the walls, the room itself looking like a Ken Adams creation–complete with CASINO ROYALE labelled Director’s chairs for the audience to sit on (and… leave WITH. The first gift from Carta Mundi to its Journalist audience) was quickly filled with guests and journalists alike.
Two persons then introduced themselves, both high ranked Carta Mundi executives. they then proceeded on explaining the complex relationship between official Licensees and Production companies (Carta Mundi has also some Harry Potter, Yu-Gi-Yo and various Warner cartoon characters licenses so far).
They explained they were positively delighted when discovering the script of ‘Bond 21’–which was to feature real trilling scenes set at Poker tables in a Casino… a dream come true…
The Carta Mundi people then explained that they provided Eon with more than a thousands Poker playing cards (and proposed Eon with literally tons of different designs for the main set Card decks).
Followed a basic Q&A session–mostly from people totally unaware of the Bond universe I may add…
And then we were treated with the screening of the complete trailer of Casino Royale, with the news DTS sound system–needless to say, the audience was… speechless.
Having myself already seen last week the movie at the Paris one and only Press screening, I had fun looking at the flabbergasted faces of my international colleagues.
We were then invited to a drink, prior to the (gargantuan) buffet lunch. And which drink but a… Vesper cocktail of course! (Word of warning there: the Vesper is a bit traitorous. After two or three, you start to see Smersh agents everywhere!).
Having brought some ‘accessories’ with me (a vintage Fleming dust jacket designed original 1953 hard cover edition of CASINO ROYALE, a fake PPK, etc, etc) we proceeded to shoot tons of pics for various magazines in the deserted Casino. We had the whole Casino just for ourselves and it was a bit weird to walk between one-armed bandits and Poker or Baccarat tables unoccupied.
I had unfortunately another pressing engagement to attend to in a distant Belgium City, so had to leave earlier than expected.
A last unsuspected surprise was waiting for me at the exit: Carta Mundi offered each of its guest a Deluxe Casino Royale chips and deck cards box–artistically decorated with the film logo.
A nice touch for one of the best Promotional events I ever attended in my career.
All thumbs up for the Belgian flawless organisation.