A recap of Bond 25’s writing process

Daniel Craig in SPECTRE’s gunbarrel

Last week, outlets (starting with Baz Bamigboye of the Daily Mail) reported that Neal Purvis and Robert Wade have resumed work on Bond 25. But things still remain a bit confusing.

With that in mind, here’s a recap of how we got to this point.

March 2017: Bamigboye reports Purvis and Wade have been hired to write Bond 25.

July 2017: The hiring of Purvis and Wade is confirmed in an Eon Productions press release that announces a fall 2019 release date for Bond 25.

December 2017: Barbara Broccoli, in a podcast for The Hollywood Reporter says Purvis and Wade are still hard at work on Bond 25’s story.

February 2018: Deadline: Hollywood reports that Danny Boyle, under consideration to direct Bond 25, devised an idea with writer John Hodge. According to the entertainment news site, Hodge was writing up a script based on that idea. If the script would be accepted, then Boyle will direct.

March 2018: Boyle essentially confirms the Deadline story during a public appearance.

May 25, 2018: Eon announces that Boyle will direct Bond 25, which will have an “original screenplay” by John Hodge.

Aug. 21, 2018: Eon announces Boyle has left Bond 25. Hodge isn’t mentioned but the writer later confirms he, too, is no longer involved.

Sept. 6, 2018: The MI6 James Bond website publishes a story that a Hodge script “was a re-working of a draft completed by long-term series stalwarts Neal Purvis and Robert Wade.” and it is “now being touched up again with changes being made to reflect the wishes of the producers and Daniel Craig.” (emphasis added) This is a new twist, given how the May 25 press release didn’t mention Purvis and Wade.

Sept. 13, 2018: Bamigboye reports that Purvis and Wade have been re-hired to work on Bond 25. The story says a Purvis and Wade treatment had been approved by Eon and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer before Boyle and Hodge arrived. A treatment is like a detailed outline. It is not the same as a script draft with its dialogue and stage directions. Anyway, Bamigboye’s story is confirmed by Variety and Deadline: Hollywood. Like Bamigboye, those outlets say Purvis and Wade are turning their previous treatment into a full script.

There it is, contradictions and all. Is it possible that Hodge was working from the Purvis and Wade treatment and not a script draft?

 Maybe. But nobody seems to know at this point.

As a result, it’s hard to tell how developed the story really is.

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Surprise, surprise: P&W working on Bond 25, Baz reports

Robert Wade, left, and Neal Purvis. (Paul Baack illustration)

Veteran 007 film scribes Neal Purvis and Robert Wade are — again — working on Bond 25, Baz Bamigboye of the Daily Mail reported.

The duo “have had their licence renewed and have bonded with Bond again,” Bamigboye wrote. It is their 007th Bond film writing assignment.

P&W were hired last year to write Bond 25, which was referenced in a July 24, 2017 announcement. However, in 2018, director Danny Boyle and his writer, John Hodge, pitched an idea. Boyle confirmed that in March. And a May 25, 2018 announcement only referenced Boyle directing with Hodge scripting and no mention of Purvis and Wade whatsoever.

Boyle and Hodge exited the project last month. So, P&W are “back in action again,” to evoke an old 007 film poster.

Here’s the key excerpt from Bamigboye’s new story:

‘The Purvis and Wade treatment they wrote earlier was already signed off before the bromance with Danny Boyle and John Hodge began,’ a Hollywood executive close to the production explained.

Purvis and Wade, working on their seventh 007 thriller, will develop their ‘treatment’ into a script.

However (and, by this stage of the soap opera, you knew there had to be a “however”), more changes likely are in store once a Bond 25 director is selected, Bamigboye wrote.

Bamigboye, since 2011, has had a series of scoops proven correct (including that Purvis and Wade had been hired to write Bond 25 in the first place, something he reported in March 2017).

Meanwhile, Bamigboye also had this line about Bond 25: “The whole thing’s a hot mess and (Eon Productions’s Barbara) Broccoli has been in Los Angeles meeting a variety of film-makers who might take over directing duties.”

Bond 25 questions: The “Mr. Obvious” edition

Omega advertising image released hours before Eon Productions announced Danny Boyle was exiting as Bond 25 director.

Baz Bamigboye of the Daily Mail, who is known for getting 007 film scoops correct, finally weighed in and said that director Danny Boyle departed Bond 25 because Eon Productions wanted to bring in a new writer to replace his man, John Hodge.

As a result, the blog has a series of “Mr. Obvious” questions.

Did Boyle and Hodge do their due diligence before signing on for Bond 25? The 007 film franchise has a history of bringing in multiple writers to massage scripts.

In the early days, Richard Maibaum replaced Johanna Harwood and Len Deighton on From Russia With Love. Paul Dehn replaced Maibaum on Goldfinger. Tom Mankiewicz replaced Maibaum on Diamonds Are Forever.

More recently? Well, this decade, John Logan replaced Neal Purvis and Robert Wade on Skyfall. Purvis and Wade were summoned to replace Logan on SPECTRE. On both films, Jez Butterworth did work (but only getting a credit on SPECTRE).

Assuming Bamigboye is correct, neither Boyle nor Hodge should have been surprised when Eon wanted a new scribe. Hell’s bells, Maibaum dealt with that sort of thing over 13 separate 007 films.

Did Eon Productions do its due diligence before bringing on Boyle and Hodge? In 2017, Eon hired Purvis and Wade do the script for Bond 25. But that work got cast aside when the possibility arose of getting Boyle as director. But Boyle wanted his man, Hodge, to write it.

Boyle has a reputation for doing unique films and Hodge is one of his main collaborators. So you’ve got to figure they have a certain way of working.

Yes, Boyle said he was a James Bond fan. Everybody (especially if they’re British) says they’re a James Bond fan when they hire on to work for Eon. But did Eon’s Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson really think through whether Boyle could adapt to working for Eon?

What role does Daniel Craig have in all this? Bamigboye’s story said Craig was a key figure in wanting a new writer to take over from Hodge. But is that really a big deal?

Before the cameras rolled on Goldfinger, Sean Connery objected to some of Paul Dehn’s ideas (such as ending the moving with “curtains” being drawn). The 1998 book Adrian Turner on Goldfinger goes into this in detail.

Tom Mankiewicz, in the documentary Inside Diamonds Are Forever, described a meeting he had with Connery. The star weighed on various issues, according to the screenwriter. So it’s not unprecedented for stars of Bond films to let their opinions be known. Granted, Craig had a co-producer title on SPECTRE, something Connery never got when he toiled for Eon.

Producers wanted to replace Hodge as B25 writer, Baz says

Bond 25 producers wanted to replace John Hodge as the film’s writer, which precipitated Danny Boyle’s exit as director, Baz Bamigboye of the Daily Mail wrote in a column.

Boyle “quit when Daniel Craig and fellow producers insisted on replacing screenwriter John Hodge,” Bamigboye said.

Bamigboyle has a record of 007 scoops being proven as correct during the lead up to Skyfall and SPECTRE. However, the scribe was away from the action last week when Boyle’s departure for “creative differences” was announced.

The Daily Mail item didn’t identify the other producers. Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson of Eon Productions are the producers of record, Craig, star of the last four 007 films, received a co-producer credit for SPECTRE. Last week’s Boyle announcement carried all three of their names.

Boyle and Hodge pitched an idea for Bond 25 that Eon bit on. That caused the producers to set aside another script by Neal Purvis and Robert Wade the duo worked on last year. Hodge then wrote a script incorporating his pitch with Boyle.

The entertainment reporter only wrote a short Bond 25 item.

Bamigboye said producers are under “a lot of pressure” to find a replacement for Boyle. The column said a replacement needs to be “prepared to be ruled over by Mr Craig.”

“Several studio sound-stages were booked for the picture,” Bamigboye also wrote. “Problem is: do they hang on to them, or give them up?”

Bond 25 pre-announcement accuracy scorecard

A reader of the blog, @EiriniMakr on Twitter, suggested a post about inaccurate things published about Bond 25.

Well, we’ll go one step further. What follows is a look at major examples of what panned out, what didn’t and what was muddy.

DEFINITELY RIGHT

Craig was coming back: The Page Six gossip operation of the New York Post said Feb. 22, 2017 that Daniel Craig was indeed coming back to play 007 in Bond 25. It had another item to that effect on April 3, 2017. The New York Times has its own story about Craig’s return on July 24, 2017.

All of these were published before Craig announced in mid-August 2017 that he was returning (2:06 mark).

Purvis & Wade were (initially) hired to write Bond 25: Baz Bamigboye of the Daily Mail reported on March 9, 2017 that six-time 007 screenwriters Neal Purvis and Robert Wade had been hired to write Bond 25. This was confirmed in a July 24, 2017 announcement that the movie would have a November 2019 release date in the United States.

Danny Boyle would direct Bond 25: Variety reports Feb. 20 that Boyle was in contention to direct Bond 25. Deadline: Hollywood comes back Feb. 21 with a story that Boyle’s participation depends on whether an idea he has developed with writer John Hodge (and that Hodge is writing as a script) is accepted.

On May 25, it was announced Boyle is directing from a script by Hodge.

DEFINITELY WRONG

The Daily Mail says May 18, 2016 that Daniel Craig turned down an offer of 68 million British pounds to play Bond in two more films. Problem: Craig says in a public appearance in New York in October 2016 that there are “no conversation going on because genuinely everybody’s just a bit tired,” Also, Craig ended up coming back.

Radar Online says Sept. 3, 2016 that Sony Pictures was offering Daniel Craig $150 million to do two more James Bond film. Problem: Sony’s involvement as a Bond film distributor ended with 2015’s SPECTRE. The Bond 25 distribution wouldn’t be settled until last month and Sony wasn’t part of it.

The Mirror says July 29, 2017 that Bond 25 will be based on a 007 continuation novel by Raymond Benson titled Never Dream of Dying. Problem: Benson says on social media that he was never contacted by the Mirror and that he can only assume the story was a fabrication. Also, Eon Productions has been notoriously adverse to using Bond continuation novels as the basis of its films. A sequence from Kingsley Amis’ Colonel Sun was adapted for SPECTRE but you have to dig deep into the end titles to find acknowledgment of it.

Archivo 007, a fan website, says Dec. 2, 2017 Christopher Nolan is “more than likely” to direct  Bond 25. Problem: Didn’t happen. Nolan said in a BBC interview in February he wasn’t going to direct the film.

The Sun says April 26 that filming on Bond 25 “has been put back to later next year” because Daniel Craig’s wife, actress Rachel Weisz, is pregnant. ProblemThe May 25 official announcement about Boyle, Hodge, et. al., specifies that Bond 25 is to begin production Dec. 3.

MUDDY

This section involves stories that are plausible but aren’t likely to be confirmed definitively

Deadline: Hollywood says on July 26, 2017 that  Denis Villeneuve, Yann Demange and David Mackenzie are the “frontrunners” to direct Bond 25. Variety says the same day that Demange is the leading contender. (Variety also said Daniel Craig was likely to return.)

Some Bond fans were extremely enthusiastic about Villeneuve. And the director said in a November podcast that, ” “I had some contact” regarding Bond 25. But Villeneuve said he was is working on a new version of Dune and that was that.

So taking Villeneuve at this word, one of those three directors had been contacted about directing Bond 25. Were Demange and Mackenzie also under consideration? No way to know at this point.

Bond 25 announcements confirm director, distribution

Daniel Craig

Official announcements about Bond 25 being directed by Danny Boyle and its distribution were issued early Friday.

Versions were on the official James Bond website and official James Bond feed on Twitter.

They followed a story late Thursday by Deadline: Hollywood that Universal would distribute the movie internationally while a joint venture between Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Annapurna Pictures would distribute it in the United States. The story also said Boyle was confirmed as director.

The announcements also confirmed a Feb. 21 story in Deadline about how  Boyle would direct is a script by John Hodge were accepted. Boyle said as such in subsequent public appearances but that hadn’t been part of official announcements until now.

A March 8 story by Baz Bamigboye of the Daily Mail, who has had a number of 007 scoops confirmed in the past, said star Daniel Craig was “pulling out all the stops” to have Boyle direct the new Bond film.

The announcements reference Hodge working on Bond 25’s script. A July 24, 2017 announcement said veteran 007 screenwriters Neal Purvis and Robert Wade were writing Bond 25.

Excerpt from the announcement issued early today:

Daniel Craig returns as 007 and Academy Award-winning director Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, Steve Jobs) will direct from an original screenplay by Academy Award nominee John Hodge (Trainspotting) with production set to begin on 3 December 2018. Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures will release the film theatrically in the US on 8 November 2019 through its new joint venture for domestic theatrical distribution with Annapurna Pictures, and Universal Pictures will release internationally commencing with the traditional earlier release in the UK on 25 October 2019.

Here is what the Twitter version looked like:

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Bond 25: Dave Bautista joins the parade of shiny objects


Actor Dave Bautista caused a stir on Instagram this week. He posted a photo of himself, apparently with a SPECTRE logo tattoo on his middle finger.

Naturally, fans asked whether this was “confirmation” that he’ll be back for Bond 25 after playing henchman Hinx in SPECTRE.

Welcome to the Bond 25 parade of bright, shiny objects.

Bond 25, at the moment, is a movie without a way to actually get to theaters (i.e. no distributor). There are options, of course, but none has actually been taken.

Bond 25’s home studio, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, may be trying to sell itself. If that’s the case, unless a sale is executed soon, it might have an impact on Bond 25.

Bond 25’s financing may not be settled until there’s a distributor. Sony Pictures, under its most recent deal to distribute Skyfall and SPECTRE, kicked in half of the production budget. You can only afford to shoot what you have to spend.

Image of Dave Bautista ‘s Instagram post.

But, of course, those kind of issues are no fun. Hence, there are bright, shiny objects to distract everyone from the mundane. The Bautista post may be the latest example.

A cynical view? Not really. Consider:

–Actor Jeffrey Wright, on April 9, 2017, posted a still of himself as Felix Leiter in Quantum of Solace. “Eh, who’s that brother?” read the caption.

Based on that meager evidence, The Independent did an entire story with the headline “Bond 25: Westworld’s Jeffrey Wright teases his return as Felix Leiter.”

The Screen Rant website also bit, with a post titled, “Bond 25: Jeffrey Wright Teases His Return to the Franchise.

This was an entire month after the Daily Mail’s Baz Bamigboye reported that veteran 007 scribes Neal Purvis and Robert Wade had been hired to write the Bond 25 script. But, when the fact becomes legend, print the legend as the old saying goes.

–And let us not forget how Eon Productions and MGM each announced on July 24, 2017, that Bond 25 would have a U.S. release date of Nov. 8, 2019. At the time, there was no distributor but that appeared to be a mere formality. Fan countdown clocks went online.

Of course, there’s still no distributor all this time later.

At some point, Bond 25 will come out. But this blog would prefer solid news, not bright, shiny objects.