Bond 25 has new production designer, fan publication says

Bond 25 will have a new production designer, with incumbent Dennis Gassner not returning, James Bond-magasinet said, citing comments made at the opening of the 007 Elements museum in Austria.

“Dennis Gassner is not doing the production design on Bond 25,” the publication said in an Instagram post. “The new production designer is Mark Tildesley. The news was confirmed by art director Neal Callow at the opening for @007elements.”

Gassner told International Cinematographers Guild Magazine last year that he was “about to do my fourth James Bond film.” Gassner took over from Peter Lamont starting with 2008’s Quantum of Solace through 2015’s SPECTRE.

However, that was before Danny Boyle emerged as Bond 25’s director earlier this year. Tildesley has been production designer on Boyle-directed movies such as 28 Days Later and T2 Trainspotting.

When the 007 film series began, Eon Productions had regular crew members such as Ken Adam (production designer), Peter Hunt (film editor) and Ted Moore (director of photography). When Adam was unavailable for From Russia With Love, art director Syd Cain essentially took over.

In recent decades, Eon has deferred selections for key posts to the directors it hired. That has been the case with directors of photography for years. Now, that trend is spreading to other posts. Thomas Newman, for example, scored Skyfall and SPECTRE because he was director Sam Mendes’ choice.

UPDATE (3 p.m. eastern time): Other fan groups have posted on social media while not mentioning the production designer news. Apparently, today was a press event at 007 Elements. The actual opening is July 12.

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Roger Deakins breaks Oscar drought

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Roger Deakins, often nominated for Oscars for cinematography, finally got a win Sunday night.

Deakins received the Oscar for his work on Blade Runner 2049. His many previous nominations included 2012’s Skyfall.

One of the other nominees in the category was Hoyte van Hoytema for Dunkirk. Van Hoytema also photographed 2015’s SPECTRE.

Lee Smith, who edited SPECTRE, won earlier in the evening in the editing category for Dunkirk.

Dennis Gassner, a three-time 007 film production designer, had been nominated for Blade Runner 2049. However, The Shape of Water won in the category.

Chris Corbould, a veteran 007 specials effects man, had been among a group nominated for Star Wars: The Last Jedi. The winner in the category was Blade Runner 2049.

UPDATE (11:10 p.m.): Roger Moore was included in the “In Memoriam” segement, saying, “My name is Bond. James Bond,” from For Your Eyes Only. Also included were actors Martin Landau and Bernie Casey as well as director of photography Fred Koenekamp.

UPDATE II (11:25 p.m.) The website for the Oscars has an expanded In Memoriam, with photos of more than 200 people.

Bond 25 questions (Danny Boyle edition)

Ever since Deadline: Hollywood’s story last week about how Danny Boyle may direct Bond 25 if the idea he and scribe John Hodge are developing is used there are new questions.

As usual, the blog isn’t in a position to answer. But it can ask. The queries below presuppose there’s something to the Deadline story.

How long has work on this new story been going on?  Deadline didn’t specify when this effort began. “MGM and producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson sparked to Boyle’s idea enough to engage Hodge, who has quietly been writing their version,” Deadline’s Mike Fleming Jr. wrote.

The entertainment website provided a general idea of when Eon Productions and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer will have something to consider. Fleming wrote that, “Hodge won’t be done for a couple of months.” If taken literally, that would mean at least two months. But the phrase “a couple” if often not used precisely.

How do you think Neal Purvis and Robert Wade are taking this? It’s doubtful they like it. However, Purvis and Wade have worked for Eon since 1998 when they started work on The World Is Not Enough.

They’ve had their own ups and downs with the franchise. It seemed they were out after Skyfall. Yet, they were summoned back in the summer of 2014 to rewrite John Logan’s work on what would be titled SPECTRE.

By now, they’re more than aware of the twists and turns working on a Bond movie can entail.

Their participation in Bond 25 was one of the few specifics in a July 24, 2017 press release stating the movie has a November 2019 release date in the U.S. Barbara Broccoli also briefly mentioned the duo in a December 2017 podcast with The Hollywood Reporter. The writers, she said, are “busy working away, trying to come up with something fantastic.”

What about the schedule if Eon and MGM go with Boyle-Hodge? At the very least it makes you wonder about that November 2019 release date.

When Hodge produces a draft script, chances are it won’t be ready for filming. Typically, movies go through various rewrites.

In the case of SPECTRE, John Logan produced his first draft in March 2014. Purvis, Wade and Jez Butterworth were rewriting into December 2014, when the movie started principal photography.

Meanwhile, it would at least appear the art department may be limited in what it can do until the basic story is ironed out. On the other hand, there is a steady hand at the wheel.

Dennis Gassner, production designer on the series the last decade, has said he’ll be back for Bond 25. Gassner, whose credits also include Blade Runner 2049, is experienced with working on big, complicated productions.

What does star Daniel Craig think of all this? It’s likely OK with him. Boyle directed a video for the opening ceremonies featuring Craig as Bond taking Queen Elizabeth to the games.

What happens next? If no major developments are announced until April or May, that may be a sign that Deadline’s story and its “couple of months” timeline for Hodge’s writing a script are accurate.

What happens if Eon and MGM ultimately pass on the Boyle-Hodge story? At the very least, that might complicate things even more. Certainly the search for a Bond 25 director would go on.

007 film veterans get Oscar nominations

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Nominations for the Oscars were released this morning. A few had connections to the 007 film series.

Cinematography: The directors of photography for the last two James Bond movies received nominations. Roger Deakins (who worked on Skyfall) got a nomination for Blade Runner 2049. Hoyte van Hoytema (who worked on SPECTRE) received a nomination for Dunkirk.

Production Design: Dennis Gassner shared a nomination with Alessandra Querzola for Blade Runner 2049. Gassner has been the production designer on the Bond series since 2008’s Quantum of Solace. Gassner has said he’ll be back for Bond 25.

Film Editing: Lee Smith, who is part of director Christopher Nolan’s regular crew, received a nomination for Dunkirk. Smith worked on SPECTRE.

Visual Effects: Chris Corbould was among four people getting a nomination for Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Corbould has Bond film credits going back to the 1980s.

As an aside, Nolan — who some 007 fans would like to helm a Bond film — received a directing nomination for Dunkirk. That film also received a nomination for Best Picture.

Gassner says he will be Bond 25’s production designer

Dennis Gassner told International Cinematographers Guild Magazine that he will return as production designer for Bond 25.

“I’m about to do my fourth James Bond film, and acknowledging the efforts of Ken Adam and others is a big part,” Gassner said. He said with franchise films ““you have to honor the established elements while meeting audience expectations.”

The ICG article primarily is about Blade Runner 2049.

Gassner, 68, took over as 007 production designer with 2008’s Quantum of Solace. He held the position with 2012’s Skyfall and 2015’s SPECTRE.

Prior to Gassner, Peter Lamont had a long run as production designer starting with 1981’s For Your Eyes Only and running through 2006’s Casino Royale. The only Bond film Lamont didn’t work on during that period was 1997’s Tomorrow Never Dies.

The MI6 James Bond website earlier wrote about Gassner’s return as part of a roundup of recent Bond 25 news.

Below is a 2012 Skyfall video blog featuring Gassner describing his work on that film.

Blade Runner 2049 may draw eye of 007 fans

Blade Runner 2049 poster

Blade Runner 2049, the sequel to 1982’s Blade Runner, may get some extra attention when it opens early next month.

The source of that extra attention may be from James Bond film fans wanting to check out the work of director Denis Villeneuve.

Villeneuve, of course, has been mentioned as a contender to direct Bond 25. Baz Bamigboye of the Daily Mail, last week reported that 007 star Daniel Craig “is rooting” for Villeneuve to helm Bond 25.

Bamigboye has a track record of Bond scoops being proven correct. As a result, a number of entertainment websites, including Screen Rant , Den of Geek  and IndieWire jumped on the story. So did British publications such as The Telegraph. Naturally, it has also been discussed among Bond fans.

Whether Villeneuve gets the job remains uncertain at the moment. He is slated to direct a new version of Dune, but schedules have been known to change. Craig himself was scheduled to star in Purity, a limited series for pay channel Showtime, but that project apparently got delayed while Craig pursued Bond 25.

Regardless, the Blake 2049 crew includes people with Bond experience. The production designer is Dennis Gassner, who’s held the same job the past three 007 films, taking over from Peter Lamont. And the director of photography is Roger Deakins, who photographed Skyfall.

Deakins is well thought of by his peers and has been frequently nominated for Oscars (including for Skyfall) while not winning.

UPDATE (7:25 p.m. New York time): The Deadline: Hollywood entertainment news website today reported that Villeneuve is in the running to direct a new version of Cleopatra for Sony.

UPDATE (8:35 a.m., Sept. 30): Villeneuve, while promoting Blade Runner 2049, told The Montreal Gazette that he has been in talks about Bond 25.

“It’s true — I’ve been in discussions with (producer) Barbara Broccoli and (actor) Daniel Craig,” Villeneuve told the newspaper. “It’s a magnificent project; I would love to do a James Bond, but I don’t know how it would fit with my current projects. We’ll have to see.”

007 films and their (sort of) continuity part II

GoldenEye, Pierce Brosnan’s 1995 debut as 007, marked the end of a six-year hiatus. It also marked the start of a change in the attitude of of the makers of the James Bond film series toward continuity.

Eon Productions, the maker of Bond movies, opted to use fan conventions in 1994 and 1995 as a marketing tool. The latter event, in New York City, a few days before the film’s premier in that city, included the chance for Bond fans to ask questions of Eon personnel, including producer Michael G. Wilson.

During the session, Wilson discussed continuity. He said the Bond films weren’t one big film series but rather a “series of series.” It was an interesting twist, especially given that Wilson and Richard Maibaum had co-scripted 1981’s For Your Eyes Only, which had a pre-titles sequence that explicitly tied that movie to On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, even giving Tracy Bond’s date of death as 1969, the same year OHMSS was released.

Then again, when you become boss, things change. Wilson and his half-sister Barbara Broccoli by this time were running Eon, with Albert R. Broccoli incapacited by health issues. Cubby Broccoli had a “presenting” credit but wasn’t listed as a producer of GoldenEye and he died the following year.

Or did things change, continuity wise? Brosnan’s tenure ended with 2002’s Die Another Day, which featured a scene where Brosnan’s Bond while talking to John Cleese’s Q (Desmond Llewelyn died following a 1999 car accident) is in a storage area full of props from earlier Bond movies. Brosnan even asks if the Thunderball jet pack “still works” while throwing a switch activating it. It’s hard to say, given the scene was part of the film’s “Where’s Waldo?” motif of providing homages to previous Bond movies throughout the story.

Behind the scenes, Eon was rethinking Bond, as the series went into a four-year hiatus. Brosnan was out, Daniel Craig was in and Eon opted to begin the saga all over again. In effect, Eon followed Warner Bros.’s strategy with Batman, rebooting the character in 2005 following a four-film series that ran 1989 to 1997. Wilson called it the “beginning of Bond”:

Lest there be any doubt, there’s THIS TOTAL FILM INTERVIEW WITH THE EON BRAINTRUST. It began thusly:

TOTAL FILM: So… Bond is our Reboot Of The Decade.

BARBARA BROCCOLI: Well, that’s wonderful! Thank you very much.

The movie had no Moneypenny, no Q and Bond didn’t drink his martinis “shaken, not stirred.” The only holdover from the Brosnan era was Judi Dench’s M. There was no attempt to explain it, but one could assume it’s another fictional universe and she’s merely a different version of the same character, similar to how Marvel and DC comic books established there are similar versions of characters in different universes.

Casino Royale also got some of the best reviews of a Bond film in decades. So for 2008’s Quantum of Solace, fans were told it would be the first *direct* sequel, and the story would begin within hours of the end of Casino.

Except….well, the continuity still got muddled. In Casino we saw references SUCH AS THIS ONE to the film taking place in 2006. But in Quantum, we saw references SUCH AS THIS ONE that it was now 2008.

Nor was that all. At the end of Casino Royale, British agent Mathis was being interrogated as a suspected double agent. In the “few hours later” Quantum, MI6 had already bought him a villa as a make-up present AND he’s already moved into it. MI6 has apparently moved as well. At the very least, M has a new office.

(UPDATE: Going back to the end of Casino Royale, it shouldn’t have taken Bond very long to track down Quantum’s Mr. White. Bond had White’s cell phone number and that’s like having a GPS device, as this NEWSWEEK ARTICLE notes. It shouldn’t have taken weeks and White and Quantum were morons if they held on to their cell phones for TWO years. That’s why criminals use disposable cell phones and Bond, if he was remotely competent, would have had to act pretty fast to nab White at the end of Casino. A comment to this post, which we appreciate, prompted us to make this addition.)

It sounds like we’re being picky. You could argue, for example, that Quantum had a new production designer after Eon opted not to bring veteran Peter Lamont.

The counter-argument: Eon managed to keep M’s office looking about the same for the first 25 years of the series, despite having different production designers/art directors (Ken Adam, Syd Cain, Peter Murton and Lamont). It’s called attention to detail. Quantum director Marc Forster and production designer Dennis Gassner wanted their own look and they got it.

There have been reports SUCH AS THIS ONE ON THE DEADLINE ENTERTAINMENT NEWS WEB SITE that say the script for Bond 23, due out in November 23, is “being kept under wraps but the story begins after Quantum Of Solace leaves off.”

We hope that’s not literally the case. While it may be possible to resolve Quantum plot lines in an entertaining story, by the time Bond 23 comes out it will have been six years after Casino Royale and four after Quantum of Solace. Then again, it’s not like inattention to detail has cost Bond much at the box office.