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.

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