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There was plenty of bonding Wednesday night as producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli received the 2022 Pioneer of the Year Award from the Will Rogers Motion Picture Pioneers Foundation. It is the first time since the pandemic began that the gala celebration was able to be held.
For nearly three decades, Broccoli and Wilson, her half-brother, have controlled the blockbuster James Bond franchise. The most recent installment, No Time to Die, was one of the most successful films of the pandemic, earning north of $774 million globally. The pic marked Craig’s fifth and final turn as the iconic spy. In 2012, his film Skyfall became the first title in the series to cross $1 billion at the global box office.
Craig made a surprise appearance at the dinner, where he and Michelle Yeoh — who starred in Tomorrow Never Dies alongside Pierce Brosnan as 007 — were on hand to present the award to Wilson and Broccoli. United Artists Releasing president Erik Lomis’ kept the crowd in high spirits as guests were served dinner, as did former MGM chief Jonathan Glickman (UAR distributes films from MGM, home of the Bond franchise. Universal had overseas duties on No Time to Die).
Yeoh — star of this year’s indie breakout hit Everything Everywhere All at Once — had the room laughing when pronouncing that 60 years old is the new 20, and that it is so “cool to be 60 and still hot!”
A tradition for more than 70 years, the Pioneers Award recognizes leaders in the motion picture industry whose career achievements and commitment to philanthropy are exemplary. It is one of the most prestigious tributes in the entertainment industry and within the philanthropic community.
Wilson and Broccoli have produced nine of the 25 Bond films since taking over leadership of the London-based Eon Productions, the company founded by their father, Albert R. Broccoli, and Harry Saltzman.
The evening’s agenda also included a performance by Sam Smith of his Spectre theme song “Writing’s on the Wall,” for which they won the Oscar for best original song in 2015. (It was the second Bond theme song to earn an Oscar after Adele’s title track for Skyfall).
Broccoli and Wilson are ardent supporters of the theatrical experience and refused any attempts to send No Time to Die straight to streaming because of COVID-19. MGM is home of the Bond films, a prized franchise that was top of mind when Amazon paid $8.5 billion to buy MGM (the deal closed earlier this year).
The annual Pioneers dinner benefits WRMPPF’s Pioneers Assistance Fund, which provides financial assistance to individuals in the motion picture distribution and exhibition community who are experiencing an illness, injury or other major life event.
Broccoli is currently producing Macbeth on Broadway, directed by Tony winner Sam Gold and starring Craig and Ruth Negga, which is set to open April 28. She is also collaborating with Whoopi Goldberg and Chinonye Chukwu on the Emmett Till drama Till, scheduled to be released next month.
Past Pioneer of the Year honorees include Tom Cruise, Donna Langley, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, Elizabeth Banks, Jim Gianopulos, Dick Cook, Michael D. Eisner, Alan Horn, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Kathleen Kennedy, Sherry Lansing, Jack Warner, Darryl F. Zanuck and Cecil B. DeMille.
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