Producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson Photo / Mark O’Connell

Massive congratulations to producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson for being awarded 2024’s Irving G. Thalberg Award by the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences.

Known as ‘The Producer’s Award, this Oscar will mean a great deal to Bond’s production captains. Their father Albert R. Broccoli received the same honour back in 1982 and it represented a very personal and landmark moment for him and the EON family. Barbara Broccoli is only the second woman (after Kathleen Kennedy) to receive the Thalberg in its very long, prestigious, and intermittent history.

When it comes to cinema and the arts, there are not many independent production companies that are still both companies and independent. There are very few production companies that maintain their family-run traits and control. There are even fewer movie franchises that surpass sixty continual years and twenty-five films with maybe not the original captains, but the founding ship’s wheel.

Yet, since 1961 London-based EON Productions and its second generation of captains Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli have done just that. Both have now been in the Bond game longer since their father, Cubby Broccoli. Just as Bond was presumed tired in the water, they rejuvenate the franchise, win Academy Awards and box-office prowess, stand firm during a pandemic and have the crosshairs of every news publication in the world focused on who might be the next James Bond 007.

In the years since Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson returned Bond to the pop-culture psyche with 1995’s GoldenEye, they have also nurtured, supported and spotted a series of movies underlining a sense of story, a sense of a director’s voice, a sense of a female cinematic voice and an independent spirit that does not always have box-office gamechanger on its agenda. The Silent Storm (2014), Radiator (2014), Nancy (2018), Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool (2017), The Rhythm Section (2020), Ear for Eye (2021) and Till (2022) are all female stories often directed by women with Barbara Broccoli and EON taking a willful stance to bring more than just guns, Astons and Bond’s machismo to our movie screens. As Thalberg himself was famous for, they have kept an eye on younger talent, produce outside the box and quietly support, nourish and maintain more than just cinema attendances.

The Thalberg Award is not presented every year. Only when the merit, respect and career momentum dictates it. Just five producers have been awarded the Thalberg Award in since 2000 alone. Previous winners have included Darryl F. Zanuck, Walt Disney, Samuel Goldwyn, George Lucas, Cecil B. DeMille, Stanley Kramer, Alfred Hitchcock, Billy Wilder, Steven Spielberg, Clint Eastwood, Norman Jewison, John Calley, Francis Ford Coppola, Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall.

Irving Thalberg was a dynamic, loved, prolific and instinctual American film producer. Born with a heart disease that foretold he would not last long into his thirties, he defied the clinicians and Hollywood itself. He helped set up what became MGM (a studio close to the 007 history). He was made head of MGM at twenty-six in 1925, produced over four hundred films, co-authored the game-changing Production Code, and launched the careers of the golden mainstays of the classical Hollywood system. Producer Darryl F. Zanuck described him as ‘the most creative producer in the history of films.’

“The recipients of this year’s Governors Awards have set the bar incredibly high across their remarkable careers, and the Academy’s Board of Governors is thrilled to recognize them with Oscars. The selection of Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli is a testament to their success as producers of the fan-favorite Bond series and their contribution to the industry’s theatrical landscape.”

Academy President, Janet Yang

At the 54th Academy Awards held on March 29th 1982, founding Bond producer Albert R. Broccoli received the Thalberg from Roger Moore. In his 1998 autobiography When the Snow Melts – The Autobiography of Cubby Broccoli, Cubby describes Thalberg as ‘Hollywood’s wunderkind, a man much respected, admired and feared…Unlike some of the other studio chiefs, he was a refined and polite gentleman, and unquestionably one of the great creative forces in our industry.’ Broccoli remembers how Thalberg died at the viciously cruel age of thirty-seven and how he watched just how the Los Angeles film community honored its best. ‘I stood on Wilshire Boulevard – ‘, he remembers, ‘- and had my first glimpse of how Hollywood saluted its fallen heroes. Around 10,000 people lined the route to the Temple on Wilshire to watch 1,500 mourners file in.’

‘He was as good a role model for an aspiring producer as one could find.’

ALBERT R. BROCCOLI, ‘when the snow melts’ / 1998

The Thalberg meant a great deal to Cubby Broccoli. The fact two of his children rightly receive this new dedication is beyond apt.

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