About all those ‘Who will be the next 007?’ articles

Over the last two or three years there have been more “who will be the next James Bond?” articles than the blog can count. The latest example: A Jan. 7 article on the U.K, edition of Esquire’s website.

Esquire goes through a number of the usual suspects — Tom Hardy, Henry Cavill, Idris Elba and Tom Hiddelston, among them.

Meanwhile, hard-core Bond fans ask why? After all there’s no vacancy for the part. Daniel Craig has been announced to star in Bond 25. And he apparently has more clout than other 007 actors, with his name mentioned in the same breath (in press releases) as Eon Productions principals Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson.

Here’s one guess.

The general public, over almost 60 years of Eon’s film series, has been conditioned to having a new Bond actor emerge every decade or so. Sometimes, the tenure is longer (Roger Moore’s 1973-85 run), sometimes less (George Lazenby’s single film, Timothy Dalton’s two). But overall, a decade or so has emerged as the expected run.

After 10 years? The entertainment media starts getting antsy. Moore seemed to be done after 1981’s For Eyes Only yet came back for two more movies. But by that point, Moore was signing up for one movie at a time.

Daniel Craig has been the Bond of record since October 2005, when he was announced as the star of 2006’s Casino Royale. During Craig’s run, there have been one four-year break (between Quantum of Solace and Skyfall) and one of longer than four years (between SPECTRE and the February 2020 release date for Bond 25).

Craig, to date, has only equaled the number of 007 films by Pierce Brosnan. No matter. There’s an element of the fan base, not to mention the entertainment media, that wants to know what’s new?

Essentially Craig is going through what Roger Moore experienced between 1981 and 1985. Roger’s coming back. Great. But who’s the new guy going to be? Craig turns 51 on March 2. Moore turned 58 the fall after A View to a Kill came out.

Bond 25 is scheduled to start production in early March. So maybe this will die down for a while. Still, don’t be surprised if the “who’s going to be the next Bond?” fervor doesn’t reignite sooner than later.

007 questions before Bond 25 starts filming

So how do you transition from the end of SPECTRE to the start of Bond 25?

In less than two months, Bond 25 is scheduled to start filming in time for a Feb. 14, 2020 release. Naturally, the blog has a few questions.

001: How do you transition from the end of SPECTRE to the start of Bond 25? Cary Fukunaga, the director of Bond 25, has said that Bond 25 will continue a “character arc” that began with 2006’s Casino Royale.

At the end of 2015’s SPECTRE, it appeared the Daniel Craig 007 had retired as an Double-O agent. So how do you get from there to a new adventure?

002: How do you reconcile the various Bond 25 scripts? The current effort began with a treatment (i.e. detailed outline) by Neal Purvis and Robert Wade. Then, that was put off to the side because director Danny Boyle and his writer John Hodge pitched an idea that supposedly was great. Then, a few months later, Eon thought better and Boyle and Hodge walked away.

There were many stories published during 2018 (See the blog’s sister site, The Bond 25 Timeline for details).

But Eon owns all those ideas. Will the final script reflect some or all of those ideas? In some cases, ideas from submitted scripts end up in Bond films years later. Also, it was reported last week that Paul Haggis (involved with writing Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace) had worked on Bond 25’s script.

We’ll see how this plays out for Bond 25.

003: How much leeway does director Fukunaga have for Bond 25? Eon Productions gave Sam Mendes a lot of leeway for Skyfall and SPECTRE, including granting Mendes his choice of composer (Thomas Newman in both movies) and director of photography (Roger Deakins in Skyfall). Does Fukunaga get that kind of love from Eon for Bond 25?

004: If the answer to 003 is not so much, does David Arnold get a chance to return to score Bond 25? Arnold, composer of five 007 scores (behind only John Barry’s 11) has been away for more than a decade. Much of that absence stemmed from Mendes’ relation with Newman. Does Arnold get a chance to come back?

005: Does Bond 25’s budget grow, stay the same, or shrink from SPECTRE’s? During the Sony hacks (hacked emails and other documents), it came out that SPECTRE’s budget was on pace to go past $300 million. Supposedly, the budget was closer to $240 million (after factoring in all the product placement and Mexico tax credits). It’s always easier to spend more — as long as a studio is willing to cut checks.

006: How energized are Bond 25’s lead producer and star? Over the extended break, Eon Productions boss Barbara Broccoli has worked on “indie-style” small films while star Daniel Craig has worked on other projects. Meanwhile, Craig said back in 2016 that “everybody’s just a bit tired.” Is everybody rested up now?

007: Does Universal’s involvement with Bond 25 change things? Sony Pictures (through its Columbia Pictures brand) released the last four 007 films (2006-2015). Now, a joint venture between MGM and Annapurna Pictures will handle U.S. distribution while Universal will handle international distribution. Does Universal change things? There’s no way to tell for now.

Writer rosters for Eon 007 films

SPECTRE’s crowded writer title card.

This week, the Geeks Worldwide website said Paul Haggis had turned in a Bond 25 draft, rewriting work by Neal Purvis and Robert Wade.

If so, Haggins joins a growing roster of Bond 25 scribes, including the team of Purvis and Wade as well as John Hodge.

As it turns out, that’s probably more routine than not. Here’s an incomplete list of screenwriters who took a whirl at Eon’s 007 film series.

Dr. No: Richard Maibaum, Johanna Harwood, Berkely Mather (credited), Wolf Mankowitz (uncredited)

From Russia With Love: Richard Maibaum (credited for screenplay), Johanna Harwood (credited for adaptation), Len Deighton (uncredited).

Goldfinger: Richard Maibaum, Paul Dehn (credited). In addition, Wolf Mankowitz sold an idea to Harry Saltzman — Goldfinger disposing of a gangster (initially Mr. Springer, but Mr. Solo in the final film) in a car crusher. Mankowitz’s fee was 500 British pounds in cash, according to the book Adrian Turner on Goldfinger.

Thunderball: Richard Maibaum, John Hopkins (credited).

You Only Live Twice: Roald Dahl (credited for screenplay), Harold Jack Bloom (credited for additional story material).

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service: Richard Maibaum (credited for screenplay), Simon Raven (credited for additional dialogue).

Diamonds Are Forever: Richard Maibaum, Tom Mankiewicz (credited).

Live And Let Die: Tom Mankiewicz (credited).

The Man With the Golden Gun: Richard Maibaum, Tom Mankiewicz (credited).

The Spy Who Loved Me: Christopher Wood, Richard Maibaum (credited). Tom Mankiewicz, Cary Bates, Sterling Silliphant, Ronald Hardy, Anthony Burgess, Derek Marlowe, John Landis, Anthony Barwick (uncredited).

Producer Albert R. Broccoli, in his autobiography, When the Snow Melts, said he and his wife Dana really came up with the shooting script.

“One day Dana and I were at our home in California and we had all these scripts, close to a dozen of them, spread out all over the room,” according to the autobiography, written with Donald Zec. “We sat and talked for hours with Dana scribbling ideas down on paper. We rewrote the whole story…Lewis (Gilbert, the director) said it was the first time a producer had come to him with a storyline that worked.”

Moonraker: Christopher Wood (credited), Tom Mankiewicz (uncredited).

For Your Eyes Only: Richard Maibaum, Michael G. Wilson (credited).

Octopussy: George MacDonald Fraser, Richard Maibaum, Michael G. Wilson (credited).

The Living Daylights: Richard Maibaum, Michael G. Wilson (credited).

Licence to Kill: Michael G. Wilson, Richard Maibaum (credited).

GoldenEye: Jeffrey Caine (credited for screenplay), Bruce Feirstein (credited for screenplay), Michael France (credited for story), Kevin Wade (uncredited).

With Tomorrow Never Dies, only Bruce Feirstein received a writing credit despite several writers working on the film.

Tomorrow Never Dies: Bruce Feirstein (credited), Donald E. Westlake, Nicholas Meyer, Daniel Petrie Jr., David Campbell Wilson (uncredited).

The World Is Not Enough: Neal Purvis and Robert Wade (credited for screenplay and story), Bruce Feirstein (credited for screenplay), Dana Stevens (uncredited).

Die Another Day: Neal Purvis and Robert Wade (credited).

Casino Royale: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Paul Haggis (credited)

Quantum of Solace: Paul Haggis, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade (credited), Joshua Zetumer (uncredited).

Skyfall: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, John Logan (credited). Jez Butterworth (uncredited).

SPECTRE: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, John Logan (credited for story and screenplay), Jez Butterworth (credited for screenplay).

Haggis joins Bond 25 writer roster, website says

Paul Haggis, who helped launch the Daniel Craig era of 007 films, has become part of the roster of Bond 25 writers, according to a website called Geeks Worldwide.

Haggis shared the screenplay credit for Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace with the writing team of Neal Purvis and Robert Wade.

Geeks Worldwide said Haggis turned in a Bond 25 draft dated Nov. 22, 2018.

Purvis and Wade began the Bond 25 scripting efforts in 2017. Then their effort was cast aside when director Danny Boyle and writer John Hodge pitched an idea. Hodge was announced as Bond 25’s writer in May 2018. Then Boyle and Hodge left the project. The Purvis and Wade story reportedly was revived and Cary Fukunaga hired to direct.

The website, also known as GWW, describes itself as covering “video games, comics, movies, television, and cosplay.”

Haggis did the later drafts of Casino Royale. The scripting process of Quantum of Solace was more muddled with reports of discarded storylines. Besides Haggis, Purvis and Wade haring the final writing credit for Quantum, Joshua Zetumer performed uncredited rewriting during filming.

UPDATE (12:05 p.m. New York time): Since Haggis was last involved with the 007 film series, he has become a controversial figure because of rape allegations and the #MeToo movement.

A total of four women have made allegations of sexual misconduct, including two rapes (see this January 2018 story in The Hollywood Reporter).

In a court filing, Haggis denied a rape allegation while saying he had consensual sex (see this August 2018 story by The Associated Press via The Wrap).

The Haggis legal team has suggested the writer-director is being targeted by the Church of Scientology (see this December 2018 story in The Daily Beast.) Haggis is a former member.

If Haggis has indeed contributed to Bond 25’s scripting, it remains to be seen if all this becomes part of Bond 25’s publicity.

2019: End of the 007 film news drought

Figuratively, the 007 drought is ending.

Welcome to 2019. If all goes as planned there will be actual news on the 007 film front after the second-longest hiatus in the history of the series.

In a little over two months, filming is supposed to begin on Bond 25.

While there isn’t much known, the series star (Daniel Craig) has completed his non-007 projects from this hiatus. Presumably, he’ll be training to get into Bond-like shape.

Barbara Broccoli, the boss of Eon Productions, is back dealing with large-budget film issues after spending part of the past three years with modest, small-scale films (both in terms of budget and box office) such as Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool and Nancy.

And, of course, Eon’s non-007 spy film, The Rhythm Section is scheduled for release next month.

For all the continuing questions and concerns about Bond 25 (including the wasted months with director Danny Boyle, who left the project), something real is on the verge of happening. Something more real, at least, that British bookies adjusting their odds on who the next 007 actor will be.

There will probably be some kind of press event ahead of the early March start of production. Based on what happened with Skyfall in 2011 and SPECTRE in 2014, a title may be revealed. Maybe some cast members will be introduced.

In any case, unless something drastic happens, the drought is about over. Happy new year.

Happy New Year 2019 from The Spy Command

Our annual greeting

It’s the end of another year. Here’s hoping for a great 2019 for readers of The Spy Command.

And, as Napoleon Solo reminds everyone, be sure to party responsibly this New Year’s Eve. Happy New Year, everyone.

Forever and a Day: Mixing 1950 with 2018

U.K. cover image for Forever and a Day, Anthony Horwitz’s second James Bond continuation novel.

Yes, there are spoilers. Stop reading if you don’t want to see them.

Art reflects the time when it was produced. So it is with Forever and a Day, the second James Bond continuation novel by Anthony Horowitz. The story mixes a 1950 setting with 2018 sensibilities.

When the novel was announced, Ian Fleming Publications emphasized how it would be a prequel to Casino Royale, Ian Fleming’s first Bond novel. (Horowitz’s first Bond novel, 2015’s Trigger Mortis, was set in 1957 after the events of Goldfinger.)

Specifically, IFP’s marketing emphasized how the new novel would show Bond being promoted to the Double-O section and depict his first mission with the code number 007.

Horowitz’s story emphasizes the time period. It’s just five years after World War II ended and there’s plenty of uncertainty. The reader is treated to a bit of M’s philosophy in managing the Double-O section and how it reflects what’s occurring in 1950.

At the same time, there is a 2018 mind-set present.

The female lead, Joanne Brochet, aka Sixtine, aka Madame 16, is introduced as a mysterious character. Before the novel ends, she’s like a more subtle version (at least in personal style) of Jinx from the Eon 007 film Die Another Day. Just to be clear, Sixtine is a much more developed character than Jinx. But they’re comparable in their abilities to inflict death.

By the time I finished the novel, I imagined what it would be like if Sixtine were a character in an Eon 007 movie. She’s Bond’s equal in every way. She takes her destiny in her own hands. She’s not passive.

In Forever and a Day, it turns out Sixtine is even better at killing than Bond is. She makes clear to Bond they will only make love on her terms. And she’s older than Bond.

Bond himself changes because of their relationship. When he first meets Sixtine, there’s this passage: “She was about ten years older than him and, for Bond, that made her at least fifteen years too old to be truly desirable.” The agent feels considerably differently when they part ways.

Horowitz utilizes two villains. With one, Horowitz describes Fleming-style physical characteristics. It’s a Horowitz take on a classic trope. The other villain, however, reflects current-day U.S. politics despite the 1950 setting This occurs when this character gives his “big villain speech.”

Just to be clear, I enjoy big villain speeches when done well. The one Horowitz writes keeps you reading. But I couldn’t help but notice the similarities to what’s happening in 2018 with talk (via the villain) of why the U.S. should be more isolationist.

One other note: Whether intentional or not (my guess is not), the plot of the villains has a strong resemblance to a villain’s plot in a certain Roger Moore 007 film. The dynamics aren’t identical. The movie villain expects to get even richer; Horowitz’s villain expects the opposite but is doing it for a far different reason.

This, of course, doesn’t figure into the theme of 2018 creeping into Horowitz’s 1950 tale. But it is there.