Variety says Bond 25 to begin filming at end of April

Daniel Craig in Skyfall.

Bond 25 is scheduled to begin filming at the end of this month, Variety said in a story today.

The Variety article primarily concerned the hiring of Phoebe Waller-Bridge as the newest writer on the film.

Variety said it confirmed Waller-Bridge’s involvement with the production. It also had this passage:

A source with knowledge of the situation confirmed that the British writer was indeed taking a pass through the script and that director Cary Fukunaga was fully aware of the decision. The source said production remained on track to begin at the end of April.

A sequence was filmed in Norway last month, but that apparently was done by the second unit without primary cast members. Fukunaga has been photographed in Italy last week scouting locations.

So far at least six writers have performed Bond 25 work. Besides Waller-Bridge, they are Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, John Hodge, Paul Haggis and Scott Z. Burns. Director Fukunaga also has been known to write scripts so it’s possible the actual total is at least seven.

Bond 25 questions: The new writer edition

Phoebe Waller-Bridge

One of the later questions deal with a possible Bond 25 story line, so consider that a spoiler.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge, a writer and performer, has come aboard Bond 25 as the newest screenwriter. The story was broken by the Mail on Sunday while The Guardian had its own, later story with additional details.

Not surprisingly, the blog has some questions.

What is Waller-Bridge’s background?

She was born in 1985 and acts, writes and directs. One of her prominent credits is the BBC comedy Fleabag.

Why is she being brought on Bond 25?

According to The Guardian’s story, actor Daniel Craig requested her services. An excerpt:

Sources close to the film in the US said that while in the country she discussed with Craig how to improve the script of Bond 25, which the 007 actor felt needed some “polishing”, by introducing more humour and the offbeat style of writing she is best known for.

What’s the significance of this move?

Eon Production recently hired “script doctor” Scott Z. Burns for a four-week stint going over the script. If The Guardian is to be believed, the powers that be felt yet more work was needed.

The Mail on Sunday hyped Waller-Bridge’s hiring as “a comprehensive makeover for the MeToo era.” The Guardian’s story makes it sound like more of a tweaking.

Any plot hints? (here’s the spoiler for the spoiler adverse)

The Mail on Sunday story said one plot “being considered” has a retired Bond while a woman agent now has the 007 code number.

If accurate, that’s the flip side of an idea in Anthony Horowitz’s Forever and a Day 007 continuation novel. It’s set in 1950. Bond gets promoted to the 00 section and opts to take the 007 number, which had been assigned to a murdered agent.

Is it a big deal to hire a woman screenwriter for a Bond film?

It shouldn’t but it probably will be because there have been so few.

Johanna Harwood (b. 1930) worked on the first two films in the Eon series. She shared the Dr. No screenplay credit with Richard Maibaum and Berkely Mather. On From Russia With Love, she received an “adapted by” credit while Maibaum got the screenplay credit.

Dana Stevens took over from Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, who had done the initial drafts of The World Is Not Enough. Bruce Feirstein subsequently took over from her. Purvis, Wade and Feirstein shared in the screenplay credit while Stevens went uncredited.

Mail on Sunday delivers newest B25 writing rumor


Possible spoiler below.

The Mail on Sunday (the Sunday edition of the U.K. tabloid Daily Mail) just came up with a Bond 25 curve ball.

The publication says Phoebe Waller-Bridge, creator and star of the BBC series Fleabag, is the latest writer to tackle Bond 25’s script.

Here’s an excerpt:

One plot being considered involves (Daniel) Craig’s ageing Bond retired and now living in Jamaica – the island where 007 author Ian Fleming had his Goldeneye retreat. The 007 number has been taken up by a new agent – a woman – who embarks on a mission which forces Bond to come out of retirement.

Despite Bond’s legendary reputation as a womaniser, the new 007 manages to resist his charms.

A source said last night: ‘Phoebe is the hottest young writer in the UK and Hollywood at the moment.

The story also says Bond 25 is scheduled to begin filming in Jamaica “within weeks.” Last month, a unit shot a sequence in Norway.

If the story is correct, Waller-Bridge joins a growing roster of Bond 25 scribes, including Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, John Hodge, Paul Haggis and Scott Z. Burns.

Also, if Waller-Bridge joins the Bond 25 writing brigade, she’ll join a select group of women screenwriters who’ve worked on 007 films. Others include Johanna Harwood (Dr. No and From Russia With Love) and Dana Stevens (The World Is Not Enough, uncredited).

Here is an appearance Waller-Bridge made on NBC’s Late Night With Seth Myers.

New James Bond & Friends podcast out

James Bond & Friends logo

The blog participated in episode 005 of the James Bond & Friends podcast, which was posted this week by the MI6 James Bond website.

Here’s a description of the episode:

We discuss the kind of Bond film we are hoping for from (Daniel) Craig and (Cary) Fukunaga, and expectations of a kick-off press conference any day now. Along the way we spoil the plot to several classics, uncover ‘stealth writers’ in our midst, curse local papers’ photo editors, highlight the dangers of impersonating the PM, run into a drag-queen doorman, muse on the leaky nature of past productions, banish Tarantino from the Bondverse, and stumble on a machine learning Bond film.

The other participants on the podcast were James Page and Paul Atkinson of the MI6 website; David Leigh of The James Bond dossier; and author Mark O’Connell.

MGM executive says 2020 will be ‘a Bond year’

MGM’s Leo the Lion logo

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s chief operating officer said 2020 will be “a Bond year” with the release of Bond 25.

“As for 2020, we could not be more excited about the film slate,” Christopher Brearton said on an investor call. “It’s a Bond year.” The movie’s April 8, 2020 U.S. release date, he said, means it “will be out in time” for Easter and spring break.

Bond 25 has been delayed twice. It originally had U.S. release dates of November 2019 and February 2020. The exit of Danny Boyle as director caused the postponement until February 2020. The second move came as the film’s script was rewritten for four weeks by script doctor Scott Z. Burns.

Brearton, in prepared remarks, didn’t get into that background.

“We will soon commence production on Bond 25, directed by Cary Fukunaga of True Detective fame,” he said. “And as we recently announced we have secured a strong pre-Easter 2020 date for the film.”

Bond 25 is being released in the U.S. by United Artists Releasing, MGM’s joint venture with Annapurna Pictures. Universal is handling international distribution.

The executive also said MGM’s 2019 financial results will be affected by investments in its film and TV units as well as Bond 25 being pushed back into 2020.

Brearton emerged as a first among equals in the MGM executive suite after CEO Gary Barber departed the company in March 2018. No CEO has been named since.

The chief operating officer also talked about MGM’s strategy more broadly. He said the studio plans to release four-to-six movies under the MGM brand and additional, smaller budget films under its Orion brand. Brearton said a third Creed movie, a continuation of the Rocky saga, is in development.

MGM also has done a deal with Joe and Anthony Russo where the brothers will supervise remakes of movies in the company’s film library. The Russos have co-directed four Marvel Studios movies, including the upcoming Avengers: Endgame.

Bond 25 questions: Waiting for principal photography

Daniel Craig and Lea Seydoux await the start of Bond 25 principal photography.

While the 007 fan base awaits the start of principal photography, the blog has more questions.

When will principal photography begin?

Presumably sooner than later, but not imminently.

This week, Bond 25 director Cary Fukunaga was spotted in Matera, Italy, and he was photographed there. On April 10, a story in an Italian newspaper showed up via a photograph on Instagram.

Two readers of the blog, @CorneelVF and @EiriniMakr, discussed it (the latter knows Italian) on Twitter. According to that story, Fukunaga will be in Matera until Sunday and travel elsewhere in Italy after that.

In any case, you can’t have have the first unit of a film start work without a director. And the first unit isn’t filming yet.

Could other Bond 25 work be going on?

Sure. The second unit might be laboring. A miniatures or special effects unit may be at work. There is, of course, no way of knowing right now.

Could another writer have been hired or about to be hired?

Certainly possible. It would make sense to have a scribe around to make last-minute adjustments.

A story line has taken hold that Daniel Craig and director Marc Forster “wrote” Quantum of Solace on the set. However, once a Writer’s Guild strike was over, Joshua Zetumer was hired for the final rewriting. Zetumer didn’t get a credit.

Who will be the credited writers for Bond 25?

Strictly a guess: Neal Purvis and Robert Wade (writing as a team) and Scott Z. Burns (an expensive script doctor).

John Hodge was on board when Danny Boyle was hired to direct. But even if any of his ideas make the final script, (and we have no idea at this point) he may not get a credit.

A wild card: Director Fukunaga also is a writer. Perhaps he did enough work to merit a screen credit for writing.

Bond 25 questions: The Instagram edition

Cary Fukunaga, director for Bond 25

A picture is worth a thousand words, the old saying goes. So it was when Bond 25 Cary Fukunaga was photographed in Matera, Italy, on April 9.

The photo appeared on Instagram the same day. It was posted by Matera Guided Tours, aka “theprofessormiza.”

Naturally with a fan base starved for news about the next 007 film, the photo made the rounds on social media. So naturally, the blog has questions.

Wasn’t principal photography supposed to have been underway by now?

The MI6 James Bond website said Feb. 29 on Twitter that Bond 25 was scheduled to begin filming on April 5 at Pinewood Studios unless another delay occurred. This would have been after several days of filming in Norway in late March.

In the Instagram photo, Fukunaga has no crew with him. It certainly doesn’t look like any filming was underway. Also, according to local Italian press, Bond 25 won’t be filming in Matera until late summer.

So what was Fukunaga doing?

MI6 James Bond said today on Twitter that the director was “in Matera finalizing location details ahead of the planned late summer shoot.” (The tweet also had a detail some might consider a spoiler. I left it out of this post.)

Does the photo really confirm Italy is a location?

It’s reasonable to conclude that’s the case. But it should be noted that no one associated with the film has explicitly said this.

UPDATE (April 10): Matera Guided Tours posted another Instagram photograph — a copy of a local newspaper article (in Italian, of course) about Fukunaga’s visit to the area. It apparently is some kind of scouting/preparation trip.