Bond 24: The calm before….

Bond 24 logo

It’s a little more than a month before Bond 24 is supposed to start production. Yet, compared to 2011, as Skyfall was gearing up to start principal photography, there’s a bit of a vacuum.

In 2011, some of the major casting had become known: Ralph Fiennes, Javier Bardem, Naomie Harris, Ben Whishaw and Berenice Marhloe had all been reported.

For that matter, there were (correct) reports what the title would be. One major plot twist — that Judi Dench’s M was being killed off — was reported IN THE SPRING OF 2011. By this time in 2011, it had also been reported that Harris would be revealed to be the new Miss Moneypenny.

Bond 24? Not nearly as much has come out. The last big Bond 24 scoop was that scribes Neal Purvis and Robert Wade were summoned to do a rewrite of John Logan’s script. Since then, there have been reports about the casting of a secondary Bond woman and some reports about locations.

Even Baz Bamigboye, the Daily Mail scribe who gets a lot of 007 scoops, has been quiet of late.

For a lot of fans, all of this is just fine. They don’t want spoilers. Still, for a movie that’s going to be the followup to a billion-dollar blockbuster, there’s not as much buzz as you might expect.

That will probably change shortly. Still, it’s an oddly quiet time.

Purvis & Wade deliver Bond 24 draft, Daily Mail Says

Robert Wade, left, and Neal Purvis.

Robert Wade, left, and Neal Purvis.

Neal Purvis and Robert Wade have delivered their rewrite of Bond 24, which is “substantially different” than earlier drafts, THE DAILY MAIL’S BAZ BAMIGBOYE REPORTED.

According to the newspaper, the start of production for Bond 24 has been approved for “late November/early December.”

Bond 24’s original writer was John Logan, who rewrote Purvis and Wade’s earlier drafts of Skyfall. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer announced in late 2012 that Logan had been hired to write both Bond 24 and Bond 25. Originally, the plan was for a two-movie story arc but director Sam Mendes said in April that plan had been scrapped.

Here’s an excerpt of Bamigboye’s latest story:

‘Everyone’s excited, and all systems are pumping away at full speed,’ my 007 informant told me, adding that Purvis and Wade’s script is ‘substantially different’ from Logan’s.

‘There was an awful lot of work to do. It was a big job. The impression given was that Purvis and Wade were hired to add jokes — but it was a bigger deal than that,’ an executive at one of the studios associated with the Bond films explained.

The last comment is a reference to Bamigboye’s June story that Purvis and Wade being hired to rewrite Bond 24’s script. That article had a line that Purvis and Wade had been “asked to ‘punch up’ the script and sprinkle in more gags, emphasising the witty repartee between Daniel Craig’s 007 and Naomie Harris’s Miss Moneypenny, and focusing on the interplay between Bond and Ralph Fiennes’s M.”

The new Bamigboye story also says “Mendes almost went down on his knees to persuade Purvis and Wade to return to the Bond fold. The director had a lot of making up to do, I was told.” Mendes had brought in Logan to do rewrites for the Skyfall story begun by Purvis and Wade. The reporter says all involved did their Bond 24 work professionally.

Bamigboye had a number of scoops about Skyfall and Bond 24 proven correct, including that Naomie Harris was playing Moneypenny in Skyfall and that Logan had been hired initially to write Bond 24.

If the Daily Mail scribe’s latest story is correct that the Purvis-Wade draft is substantially different, that suggests they’ll get a Bond 24 writing credit. That would be their sixth of the 007 film series.

Bond 24 questions: the writers edition

Robert Wade, left, and Neal Purvis.

Robert Wade, left, and Neal Purvis.

Neal Purvis and Robert Wade are back? There’s been no official announcement but it was reported last month by The Daily Mail’s Baz Bamigboye that the writers were retained to rewrite John Logan’s efforts.

Bamigboye had a number of Skyfall and Bond 24 scoops proven correct. Example: he wrote that Purvis and Wade were initially not going to be back for Bond 24, while their Skyfall co-scribe John Logan would be the new 007 film’s writer. Purvis and Wade subsequently confirmed they were leaving the series. Until, it now seems, things changed.

How extensive will Purvis and Wade’s Bond 24 script work going to be? If the duo end up getting a credit, you’ll know it will have been substantial.

The Writer’s Guild has extensive guidelines on how much work a scribe (with a team of writers such as Purvis and Wade counted as a single entity) should do to get a screen credit. A writer or writing team must contribute more than 33 percent of the finished product for an adapted script, 50 percent for an original one. Bond 24 falls under the adapted category since it uses a character who originally appeared in a novel.

Getting a credit isn’t as simple as counting lines of dialogue. A credit is supposed to reflect “contributions to the screenplay as a whole,” according to the guild. It’s possible, for example, for a writer to change every line of dialogue but for the guild to determine there’s been no significant change to the screenplay.

In any case, if Bond 24’s credit reads something like, “Written by John Logan and Neal Purvis & Robert Wade,” Purvis and Wade will have done more than revamp some dialogue or tweak a scene or two.

Is this unusual?It’s the normal method of operation for both movies in general and James Bond movies in particular. Even 007 films that had only one writing credit had contributions from other writers. For example:

–From Russia With Love had a solo screenplay credit for Richard Maibaum, but also an “adapted by” credit for Johanna Harwood, while Len Deighton did work that didn’t earn a credit.
–You Only Live Twice had a “screenplay by” credit for Roald Dahl but an “additional story material” credit for Harold Jack Bloom, the film’s first writer.
–On Her Majesty’s Secret Service had a Maibaum solo credit for the screenplay but an “additional dialogue” credit for Simon Raven, who rewrote dialogue in some scenes.
–Tomorrow Never Dies had a “written by” credit for Bruce Feirstein. Other writers took a whirl without credit between Feirstein’s first draft and his final draft.

As far as anyone knows, Live And Let Die really represented the work of only one writer (Tom Mankiewicz), and he did plenty of rewrites himself.

Is this any reason to be concerned? The Daily Mail also reported the start of Bond 24 filming was pushed back to December from October. If true, that should still be enough time for Bond 24 to meet its release date of late October 2015 in the U.K. and early November 2015 in the U.S.

What should fans look for next? The date of the press conference announcing the start of Bond 24 filming. There should also be a press release. If Purvis and Wade get a mention in that press release along with John Logan, that’ll be a sign they did a fair amount of work on the script.

Repeat after me, ‘Writing a James Bond movie is hard’

Bond 24 writer, err co-writer, John Logan

Bond 24 writer, err co-writer, John Logan

John Logan is learning a lesson that the likes of Paul Haggis, Bruce Feistein, Jeffrey Caine and Michael France learned before him. Writing a James Bond movie is hard.

You can be a hero one day (Logan after Skyfall, Feirstein after GoldenEye, Haggis after Casino Royale) and out the door the next (Feirstein for a period during Tomorrow Never Dies until he got asked back, Haggis after Quantum of Solace).

Screenwriting in general is tough. If you’re in demand, you make a lot of money. If you’re not, it can be humbling. Studios make fewer, more expensive movies. With the stakes so high, there are all sorts of people — directors, stars, studio executives — looking over your shoulder. Bond movies take it a step further. You have the Broccoli-Wilson family, which has controlled the franchise for more than a half century. They have definite ideas of what they like and don’t like.

Screenwriters don’t tally up a lot of multiple 007 screen credits. An Oscar winner such as Paul Dehn had only one. Other one-time only scribes include John Hopkins. Roald Dahl and Michael France. Some writers toil without even getting a credit, such as Len Deighton and Donald E. Westlake, hardly slouches as authors.

All of which is a long way of saying it’s remarkable that Neal Purvis and Robert Wade have been summoned, according to Baz Bamigboye of the Daily Mail, for a sixth turn writing a James Bond movie, taking over for Logan, who, in turn, rewrote their script for Skyfall. The only writer who has more Bond screenwriting credits is Richard Maibaum (1909-1991) with 13. Maibaum had the advantage of a long-standing relationship with producer Albert R. Broccoli.

Maibuam and the Purvis-Wade team have one thing in common. They’ve taken their share of flak over the years. The British film historian Adrian Turner, in a 1998 book about Goldfinger, made it clear he didn’t think much of Maibaum, painting Dehn as the one who brought the Goldfinger script into shape. Purvis and Wade, meanwhile, get criticized on Internet message boards and social media by some fans as hacks. It helps to have a thick skin.

Feirstein, Haggis and Logan were the final writers on three significant 007 hits: GoldenEye (reviving the franchise after a six-year hiatus), Casino Royale (a reboot of the franchise) and Skyfall (the first billion-dollar Bond film). They got invited back but in the cases of Feirstein and Haggis it was hardly easy going. Something similar may be going on with Logan. He was hired to write a two-film story arc, but that plan got scrapped as part of the price to get Skyfall director Sam Mendes back for Bond 24.

The situation undoubtedly is even more complicated and can only really be appreciated by those who’ve gone through the same grind. But the basic lesson still stands. It’s hard to write a James Bond movie.

Purvis and Wade return to rewrite Bond 24, Daily Mail says

Robert Wade, left, and Neal Purvis.

Robert Wade, left, and Neal Purvis.

Five-time 007 screenwriters Neal Purvis and Robert Wade have been hired to revamp John Logan’s Bond 24 script, Baz Bamigboye of the Daily Mail reported.

The move also means that the start of production has been delayed until December, according to Bamigboye, who had a number of scoops about Skyfall proven correct. (CLICK HERE for examples.)

Here’s an excerpt:

Purvis and Wade have been asked to ‘punch up’ the script and sprinkle in more gags, emphasising the witty repartee between Daniel Craig’s 007 and Naomie Harris’s Miss Moneypenny, and focusing on the interplay between Bond and Ralph Fiennes’s M.

Bamigboye originally reported that Purvis and Wade wouldn’t return for Bond 24 and that Logan — who rewrote their Skyfall script — had been hired. Purvis and Wade later confirmed their departure and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer announced that Logan had been hired to write Bond 24 and Bond 25.

Originally, Bond 24 and Bond 25 were supposed to be a two-movie story arc. That plan was jettisoned as part of the deal to get Skyfall director Sam Mendes back for Bond 24. Mendes himself confirmed all that in April.

PREVIOUS POST: PURVIS & WADE, AN APPRECIATION

Our updated Bond 24 accuracy list

Sam Mendes

Sam Mendes

Thanks to Sam Mendes, the accuracy of some additional Bond 24 reports can be evaluated.

Bond 24 and Bond 25 originally were to comprise a two-part story but the plan was jettisoned: The DEADLINE HOLLYWOOD site said in October 2012 that Bond 24 and Bond 25 were to be a two-movie story arc.

Then, BAZ BAMIGBOYE OF THE DAILY MAIL WROTE in February 2013 the plan was deep sixed and they’d be stand alone movies.

Mendes, in his April 10 interview on the PBS Charlie Rose show confirmed pretty much all of this. The move away from the two-part approach was part of the reason why the Skyfall director agreed to come back for Bond 24, he told the host starting around the 18:00 mark of the show.

Unfortunately, Mendes was in the middle of explaining that when Rose interrupted him with a question and no more was said on the subject. Check

What follows is text of a previous post with appropriate updating.

John Logan hired to write Bond 24: reported by the U.K. Daily Mail on OCT. 25, 2012.

John Logan hired to write both Bond 24 *and* Bond 25: Reported by the Deadline Hollywood Web site on OCT. 26, 2012.

WHAT HAPPENED? Barbara Broccoli in an interview on the Crave Online Web site published NOV. 12, 2012 denied it.

Congratulations on signing John Logan for two more scripts.

Barbara Broccoli: Well, we are working on another film in the future but we actually haven’t announced that we’re going to do two. We don’t know what we’re going to be doing.

Oh, so what was the news that he had a two-story arc?

Barbara Broccoli: That was a Hollywood announcement, not from us if you notice.

However, the same week, Gary Barber, the CEO of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, said on a conference call with investors that Logan had been hired to write the next two Bond films. Check.

Sam Mendes, after saying he wouldn’t direct Bond 24, is considering doing just that: reported by Deadline Hollywood in a story on May 28, 2013.

WHAT HAPPENED. Mendes, in an interview on the Stage News Web site published June 12, 2013 confirms that’s happening.

Mendes, whose Bond debut as director of Skyfall last year turned out to the most commercially successful of all the 007 films, grossing more than £100 million at the domestic UK box office alone and over $1 billion globally, added that he is in discussions to direct the next Bond film.

“But nothing is going to be determined until Charlie and the Chocolate Factory [now previewing at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane] has opened,” he said. “I’m literally here from 8.30am to midnight every day, and it occupies every inch of my attention. So we’ll make decisions about that once Charlie has opened.”

Mendes ended up signing on for the project and an announcement of that, along with a fall 2015 release date for Bond 24 was announced last year. Check.

The Daily Mail was the first to report (also in a 2012 story linked above) that the writing team of Neal Purvis and Robert Wade were departing the Bond film series. The writers confirmed that development with on Collider.com. Check.

All of this is a reminder that news about Bond 24 is likely to leak out before any official announcements, similar to WHAT HAPPENED WITH SKYFALL. The trick — as stated before — will be to figure which reports are on target (despite denials) and which aren’t.

John Logan tells Empire that Bond 24 first draft almost done

Bond 24 writer John Logan

Bond 24 writer John Logan

Bond 24 scribe John Logan tells EMPIRE IN AN INTERVIEW that he’s nearly done with the first draft of Bond 24’s script.

Here’s an excerpt, beginning with a quote from Logan:

“The new movie continues the themes of Skyfall. Some of the characters and themes that we began to introduce in Skyfall will play out, I hope successfully, in the next movie.”

(snip)

A more direct line of questioning was required. Will we see the return of Quantum? “No comment.” Will we see Blofeld in Bond 24? “No comment.” Will there be any other Double-0 agents? A pause, which gave us a quantum of hope. “Ah… no comment!”

While coy, the interview represents the most concrete news the new movie’s script since Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer announced in November 2012 that Logan would write Bond 24 and Bond 25. That announcement confirmed media reports that Eon Productions had denied just days earlier.

Logan wrote the later drafts of 2012’s Skyfall, revamping work done by Neal Purvis and Robert Wade. Logan, so far, is the only writer assigned to Bond 24.

It remains to be seen what Skyfall themes Logan is talking about. The movie’s villain was killed as was Judi Dench’s M. It also introduced a new M (Ralph Fiennes) and Moneypenny (Naomie Harris).

For the full Empire interview with Logan, CLICK HERE.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 141 other followers