Bond 23 to have tighter budget, The Sun says

The Sun, the U.K. tabloid newspaper, says Bond 23 will be made on a tighter budget than previous entries in the series.

The story (which you can read BY CLICKING HERE) leads off by saying Daniel Craig will grow a beard for the movie. But this passage caught our eye:

The film is going to be made on a shoestring budget in comparison to the last few.

A source said: “They’ve really scaled back.

“The lavish production and locations have been cut.

“There is only a reduced cast and crew travelling to the few overseas destinations.”

The Sun gets no more specific than that, nor describes how the source came across the information. The paper also doesn’t provide a specific budget figure. (It also has a plot spoiler if you care to read the story).

This is the second report (at least indirectly) referring to a smaller budget for Bond 23. The Times of India, IN A STORY IN AUGUST said Bond 23’s budget was $135 million. That newspaper didn’t specify how it got that figure, not even attributing it to a source, just stating the number.

Quantum of Solace had a budget of $230 million, according to The Numbers.com Web site. As we’ve noted before, a reduced Bond 23 budget would make sense. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which controls half the 007 franchise, reorganized itself in bankruptcy court. Sony Corp., whose Columbia Pictures will distribute Bond 23, is having its own financial tough times. It’s up to MGM and Sony to finance Bond 23 and the world is a lot different in 2011 than it was in 2008.

UPDATE: The $135 million figure may have originated with a story in the Sunday Times of London earlier this year. You can read a version that ran on The Australian’s Web site by CLICKING HERE. That story said MGM and Sony intended to raise $45 million, or one-third of Bond 23’s production budget, through product placement deals.

Simple math — 45 multiplied by 3 — gives you $135 million.

Could 007 be forced to economize in Bond 23?

Now that Bond 23 has a release date of November 2012, the entertainment media is seeking details. The Hollywood Reporter’s Web site has a story saying Paramount be the leading contender to cut a deal with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer to release the film. But down deep in the story is something else that caught our eye:

The next Bond film — tentatively called Bond 23, to be directed by Sam Mendes and starring (Daniel) Craig — will likely cost less than $150 million. It is not clear whether MGM will finance all or part of the film, though one source with ties to Paramount believes MGM would like to finance the film and cover marketing costs. Obviously that could be one of many points of negotiation.

This is interesting because the most recent Bond entry, 2008’s Quantum of Solace, cost a reported $230 million, according to the Numbers.com Web site. A $150 million budget, while ample, would represent a substantial reduction.

That wouldn’t be all bad. Many fans, including a number of HMSS reviewers felt Quantum of Solace didn’t match the quality of 2006’s Casino Royale, which skimped by (relatively speaking) on a $102 million budget (Numbers.com’s estimate). If the $230 million figure for Quantum is correct, it’s hard to see where the money went. It wasn’t for production values, editing or the script.

Now, we approach the Hollywood Reporter report with some caution concerning Bond 23’s budget. The trade publication doesn’t specify where it came up with the “less than $150 million” figure, or if it’s based on actual reporting of it’s an educated guess. It’s not even attributed to “sources.” Still, given that MGM just got out of bankruptcy, it makes sense that Bond 23 would be a more a more thrifty production than Quantum of Solace. And you can still make a good movie for $150 million and spending $230 million isn’t a guarantee of success.