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.

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.

Boyle-Eon: The lack of due diligence

Danny Boyle

Last August, the blog asked whether Danny Boyle and Eon Productions did proper due diligence before Eon decided to hire Boyle to direct Bond 25.

Boyle, seemingly, has confirmed the answer was no.

Empire magazine has a feature story about Boyle in its May issue. The story isn’t online, but Boyle comments about Bond 25 have been summarized, including a story at the MI6 James Bond website.

There’s a passage where Boyle says he left Bond 25 after Eon wanted to bring in other writers to rework what John Hodge had done. (Cary Fukunaga would be hired to replace Boyle.)

“We were working very, very well, but they didn’t want to go down that route,” Empire quotes Boyle as saying. “What John Hodge and I were doing, I thought, was really good. It wasn’t finished, but it could have been really good.

“You have to believe in your process and part of that is the partnership I have with a writer. It’s like saying ‘Hey, we are going to give you a different editor…’ Those fundamental partnerships are vital.”

It sounds like Boyle learned his lesson the hard way. If he had done a little research, maybe a half-hour using Google, he’d have discovered Eon often brings in multiple writers to work on Bond films. In some cases, the more the merrier. 

To be fair, Boyle would not be the first auteur director to have difficulties working in a blockbuster film environment. The 2015 Marvel Studios film Ant-Man originated with Edgar Wright. But, in the end, Wright bowed out while retaining a screenplay credit.

Nevertheless, Eon had plenty of chances to check Boyle out. Boyle and Hodge reportedly pitched their idea. How did they think Boyle would react after telling him Hodge’s work needed to be reworked by other scribes?

“Oh sure, Barbara. Whatever you say.” Not likely. They call it auteur for a reason.

This whole affair likely is more complicated. Regardless, neither side did their proper due diligence. And both sides are to blame. That’s as obvious as how the sun rises in the East.

UPDATE (March 21, 2019): Empire has posted an online excerpt of its Danny Boyle story that contains his comments about Bond 25.

About that 007 driving an EV thing

Powertrain of an Aston Martin Raptide E

The British tabloid The Sun caused a stir this week with a story saying that James Bond will drive an all-electric Aston Marton Raptide E in Bond 25

Being a tabloid, the phrasing was provocative.

The £250,000 Rapide E is the Brit motor manufacturer’s first electric vehicle and only 155 are being built.

An insider said: “The decision was spearheaded by the film’s new director, who’s a total tree-hugger.

“He is working directly with Aston Martin to get one of their electric cars ready for its big close-up.he £250,000 Rapide E is the Brit motor manufacturer’s first electric vehicle and only 155 are being built.

(snip)
“Everybody is afraid of Bond getting labelled ‘too PC’ but they all felt the time was right to put him in a zero emission vehicle.” (emphasis added)

The thing is, if you’re going to keep “timeshifting” a character created in the early 1950s by Ian Fleming, Bond has to confront the world the way it is now. Needless to say the world has changed when Fleming was writing Casino Royale in early 1952 in Jamaica.

Specifically, it’s not just “tree huggers” who are causing the auto industry to develop electric vehicles.

China, the world’s largest automotive market and a country with severe pollution problems, is more or less forcing the industry to make more electric vehicles. Here’s the opening to a 2018 story published by Bloomberg Businessweek:

The world’s biggest market for electric vehicles wants to get even bigger, so it’s giving automakers what amounts to an ultimatum. Starting in January, all major manufacturers operating in China—from global giants Toyota Motor and General Motors to domestic players BYD and BAIC Motor—have to meet minimum requirements there for producing new-energy vehicles, or NEVs (plug-in hybrids, pure-battery electrics, and fuel-cell autos). A complex government equation requires that a sizable portion of their production or imports must be green in 2019, with escalating goals thereafter.

In other words, if you want to sell cars and trucks in China, you’d better have electric offerings. Regulators in Europe are also pushing “cleaner” vehicles. The U.S. is the one major market where the government want to ease up fuel-economy and vehicle-emission standards.

To be sure, it’s unclear how fast EV expansion will happen. Regardless, EVs are a fact of life. So it’s not crazy that Bond 25 would reflect this. This post isn’t an endorsement of The Sun’s story. It remains to be seen how accurate that story is.

However, Bond driving a fast EV in the 21st century isn’t a fantasy. We’ll see what happens.

Norway shoot to be part of B25’s pre-title sequence

Cary Joji Fukunaga, director of Bond 25

The Bond 25 sequence to be filmed in Norway will be part of the film’s pre-titles sequence, Baz Bamigboye of the Daily Mail, wrote in a short item Thursday night that was part of his weekly column.

Director Cary Fukunaga “and a small crew” will be part of the shoot at a frozen lake, according to item. The crew wants to complete the sequence before the lake thaws, the scribe said.

Bamigboye has a record of Bond scoops ultimately being proven as correct.

Bamigboye also wrote that Danny Boyle, Bond 25’s original director, “had wanted to film an iced-over lake in Canada.” Boyle departed the project in August over “creative differences.” That led to the hiring of Fukunaga.

The short item also says Bond 25 will also be filmed in Jamaica.

Bond creator Ian Fleming wrote the first drafts of his 007 novels in Jamaica in the winter before returning to London to rewrite and revise. The first 007 film, 1962’s Dr. No, was filmed in Jamaica, where the novel was set.

(UPDATE, March 8): Variety has a story about Bond 25’s planned Italian shoot and says that sequence will be the film’s pre-titles sequence. Well, we shall see what we shall see.