About that buzz that Shatterhand will be B25’s title

Cover to the first-edition U.S. hardback edition of You Only Live Twice

There’s been quite a buzz this week that Shatterhand, the name of an alias adopted by Ernst Stavro Blofeld in the novel You Only Live Twice, will be the title of Bond 25.

The thing is, the idea has been applied to the as-yet unmade 25th 007 film, at various times in 2017 and 2018 as well as this month.

However, people have short memories. So here’s a recap. This week’s news isn’t exactly, well, news.

Let’s start with 2015’s SPECTRE.

There are indications Eon Productions was at least considering making the film a “soft” remake of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. In 2014, various drafts of the film’s script got out because of the hacking at Sony Pictures.

One draft included a secondary villain named Irma Bunt, Blofeld’s assistant in both the Majesty’s novel (and film) and You Only Live Twice novel.

Another draft, which this blog wrote about, ended with Bond telling Madeline Swann, “We have all the time in the world.” That, of course, is what Bond told Tracy just before the latter was killed in both the Majesty’s novel and film.

Neither bit made it into SPECTRE. Bond and Swann just drove off.

Flash forward to summer 2017.

On July 29, 2017, The Mirror says Bond 25 will be based on a 007 continuation novel by Raymond Benson titled Never Dream of Dying. However, the story also says the working title is Shatterhand.

Benson says on social media that he was never contacted by the Mirror and that he can only assume the story was a fabrication. Well, that seems to slam things shut. Shatterhand fever is forgotten. That is until….

Flash forward to summer 2018.

On Aug. 27, 2018, The Bond Blog, citing the Production Weekly website, says Shatterhand has been registered as a title for Bond 25. The Shatterhand buzz still lives.

Flash forward to this week.

Despite the fact that Production Weekly has listed Shatterhand as a working title for Bond 25 since last year, a number of outlets discovered that fact and treated it as news.

Among them: Comicbook.com, The Guardian, Empire, The Express. and, last but not least, the BBC.

Those stories, in turn, are recycled by readers on various social media outlets. Shatterhand fever burns hot.

In December, Bond 25 director Cary Fukunaga told the Daily Mail’s Baz Bamigboye that Lea Seydoux, SPECTRE’s female lead, will be back in the new film.

So, will Bond 25 be based on the You Only Live Twice novel? Will Seydoux’s Madeline Swann be Tracy 2.0?

Who knows? However, 2012’s Skyfall adapted bits from the Twice book as well as the 1965 novel The Man With the Golden Gun. So we’ll see. Regardless, Bond 25 has gotten a ton of free publicity from the recurring Shatterhand buzz.

Bond 25 ‘wooing’ Lupita Nyong’o, Bamigboye says

Lupita Nyong’o

Bond 25 is attempting to lure Lupita Nyong’o to be a member of the cast, Baz Bamigboye of the Daily Mail reported.

Nyong’o won an Oscar for best supporting actress in 2013’s 12 Years a Slave. She also played Nakia in 2018’s Black Panther and is in the upcoming Star Wars: Episode IX.

Eon boss Barbara Broccoli and Bond 25 Cary Fukunaga “have been wooing Lupita Nyong’o to join Daniel Craig” in the film, the Daily Mail scribe wrote. “But whether she is available remains to be seen.”

The Bond 25 reporting was the second item in a weekly Bamigboye column. Other tidbits:

–The idea that Emma Stone was in the running for Bond 25 was dismissed by an executive Bamigboye didn’t identify “as nonsense.” The same executive verified the interest in Nyong’o.

–Scott Z. Burns, performing a rewrite on Bond 25’s script, is “only halfway through it.”

–“Ralph Fiennes, Lea Seydoux, Naomie Harris (maybe with an expanded Moneypenny role) and Ben Whishaw are on their marks, ready to head back into Bond world.”

Hmm. Maybe the “Scooby Gang” notion hasn’t gone away.

Bond 25 release pushed back 2 months

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Bond 25’s release has been pushed back almost two months to April 8, 2020, The Wrap entertainment news website said.

The change was confirmed in an announcement on the official 007 website of Eon Productions.

The Wrap’s initial story was only two paragraphs long. It provided no details nor said how it obtained the information. An updated version added some background but still had no details. The Eon announcement was only one sentence.

Bond 25’s scheduled release date had been Feb. 14, 2020.

Bond 25 had already been pushed back once. The next 007 film originally was announced as having a November 2019 release date in the United States.

The 25th James Bond film originally was to have been directed by Danny Boyle. He departed over “creative differences.” Cary Fukunaga was hired to replace Boyle.

Bond 25 will be distributed in the U.S. by United Artists Releasing, a joint venture of MGM and Annapurna Pictures. Universal is handling international distribution.

UPDATE (9:20 p.m., New York time): Perhaps a piece of the puzzle: Universal (which is distributing Bond 25 internationally) has moved Fast & Furious 9 from April 10, 2020 (the start of Easter weekend), to May 22, 2020, according to Deadline: Hollywood.

Tidbits from updated 007 book

Cover to the updated edition of Some Kind of Hero

The blog ordered the updated edition of Some Kind of Hero by Matthew Field and Ajay Chowdhury, an extensive look at the 007 film series. What follows are some tidbits since the original 2015 edition. The book has an expanded chapter on SPECTRE, plus a new chapter about the preliminary development of Bond 25.

–The idea of releasing SPECTRE in the summer of 2015 apparently was considered for a time. The book doesn’t state this explicitly. But there’s this passage in the chapter on SPECTRE:

(Skyfall director Sam) Mendes recalled, ‘It took MGM and Eon accepting that the movie wasn’t going to come out in the summer of ’15. I said I couldn’t do it that fast’ (emphasis added)

Sony Pictures, which distributed and co-financed Skyfall and SPECTRE had told movie theater executives that Bond 24 (later titled SPECTRE) would be out in 2014. Barbara Broccoli, Eon’s boss, and star Daniel Craig shot down that idea in interviews during publicity for Skyfall. After that, nobody talked about Bond 24/SPECTRE having a 2014 release.

–SPECTRE received $14 million in Mexican tax incentives. Among the conditions: The sequence filmed in Mexico had to have a Mexican Bond girl, a non-Mexican Bond villain and the target of an assassination plot had to be “a local governor and not an ambassador.” The authors, in a footnote, cited a 2015 article from http://www.taxanalysts.org as their source of the information.

–The Bond 25 chapter implies the search for a distributor delayed development. Sony’s deal expired with SPECTRE. “By late 2016, no distributor had been announced and thus no screenplay, title director or cast could have been announced.”

However, Eon and MGM announced a fall 2019 release date in July 2017 despite having no distributor in place. It wasn’t until May 2018 that it was announced a joint venture between MGM and Annapurna Pictures would release the film in the U.S. and Universal would handle international distribution. (This is referenced later in the chapter.)

Because of publication deadlines, the book’s Bond 25 chapter includes Danny Boyle being hired as director but doesn’t include his exit because of “creative differences.”  Cary Fukanaga was hired to replace Boyle, with the release date pushed back to February 2020. Obviously, there is more fodder for future editions.

The updates also include, understandably, a new Roger Moore chapter following the death of the seven-time 007 in 2017.

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.

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.

Embrace Léa Seydoux, look forward to Madeleine Swann

Daniel Craig and Lea Seydoux at the end of SPECTRE.

By Gert Waterink, Guest Writer

When Bond 25 director Cary Fukunaga told the Daily Mail this week that French actress Léa Seydoux would reprise her role as Madeleine Swann, Bond fandom was instantly “menstruating” blood and fire.

I leave it to you to find this either preposterous or a sheer exaggeration. But let me first tell you that time is not treating SPECTRE nicely so far. (Look out for the big #JamesBondTOP2018 Poll to see exactly what has happened.)

Was it the SonyLeaks that immediately brand marked it as the worst Bond-film “evva”? Was it Christoph Waltz’ performance as Oberhauser/Blofeld that left Bond fans cold and bitter? Or, and that I can understand, was the writing not good enough?

Madeleine Swann: Better than we thought?
All I saw was an actress that played a wonderful blond elegant psychiatrist, who had the bad luck to be born out of a father whose sole career was crime (remember Tracy’s father in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service?). In my honest opinion Léa Seydoux did magnificent acting work with the script she was given.

She showed off an Honey Ryder-esque vulnerability in the third part of the film that was credible enough to me. Her anger at the start of the film was absolutely delightful (Vesper Lynd could have learned a few lessons from her to that respect). And because of Bond’s complex background, it only made sense that, like Vesper, Bond and Madeleine fell in love.

The problem to me with regard to writing was only the rather sudden change from fierce, angry woman into a sexual passive object of desire that didn’t feel convincing. But that was mostly the case because of lackluster writing, not bad acting.

Sam Mendes, Daniel Craig, Neal Purvis and Robert Wade simply wanted too many narrative twists and turns and character’s back stories to put in a film that should have been divided into two parts (it was Craig who eventually insisted on not doing that). The film also needed some more explanations and not leave certain important events and moments to the viewers imagination.

Let’s be old-fashioned, let’s be patient
Having sad all that, please let us trust Léa’s acting capacities. They are exquisite and above all mesmerizing and convincing. We should not write off Madeleine Swann’s character that soon.

For all we know Danny Boyle’s departure resulted in some more firm brainstorming about the story as compared to the writing process of SPECTRE. Let’s not “Facebook” and “Twitter” Léa/Madeleine to death.

There are luckily no “UniversalLeaks” this time around to strengthen all our presumptuous theories about why Madeleine Swann should not return.

Instead let’s ask ourselves how we can bring back Madeleine Swann in a wonderful way, both for short and longer screen times.

And perhaps it sounds a bit old-fashioned during this digital social media age, but for those people who can still be patient, let’s just wait and see.

If you still want to discuss the film like I do, do it in a positive-spirited, inspiring fashion. Because James Bond will return — and there are fresh new chances to make Bond 25 even better than Casino Royale and Skyfall.

Gert Waterink is the editor of the James Bond Nederland website.