Scott Z. Burns says Bond is other side of coin from Bourne

Scott Z. Burns

Screenwriter Scott Z. Burns, in a new interview with The Express, says writing for James Bond is the other side of coin of writing for Jason Bourne.

“It’s fun for me because a few years ago I got to write a Jason Bourne movie and they’re definitely opposite sides of the same coin,” the writer told The Express.

“So I’m thrilled to have had a chance to contribute to the other side of the coin,” he said.

Burns was a screenwriter on 2007’s The Bourne Ultimatum. Since then, Burns has moved into directing but is also a well-known “script doctor.”

The writer said No Time to Die’s script “was in a completely reasonable shape” when he joined the project early this year.

The Playlist reported in February that Burns was working on the No Time to Die script. The hiring was confirmed in late April during a “reveal” event in Jamaica that also disclosed various casting movies. Burns was hired to work for four weeks, The Playlist said in its story.

In the Express interview, Burns also talked up star Daniel Craig. “I think Daniel has been an incredible custodian of that character and I think for the people who like the direction he has taken it, they are going to really love what happens next.”

RE-POST: Why Bond 25 didn’t economize

Daniel Craig in Skyfall

Updated from an April 3 post.

NEW INTRODUCTION: This past week, The Hollywood Reporter had a feature story about No Time to Die cast members Lashana Lynch and Ana de Armas that had a passing reference that the film’s budget was $250 million.

On Nov. 9, the Daily Mail had a story with a passing reference that the budget was 200 million British pounds ($257 million or so, depending on the conversion rate).

Regular readers of this blog were probably not surprised. In April, the blog had a post about why it was not likely the 25th James Bond film didn’t do much economizing.

Since that post was published, it became public knowledge that writer-actress Phoebe Waller-Bridge also worked on the movie’s script. Her reported fee (via The Hollywood Reporter) was $2 million. Thus, there’s even more evidence that spending on the movie continued on the high side.

Over the past few days, other outlets have picked up on the $250 million budget figure for No Time to Die. SPECTRE had a $245 million figure (after tax breaks, product placement and other incentives were factored in).

What follows in the text of the blog’s original post on the subject.

ORIGINAL APRIL POST: Bond 25 production got underway last week with some filming in Norway. There’s a lot we don’t know (including a title). But there are some signs that the film isn’t traveling in Economy Class.

Delays in production: Eon Productions began renting space at Pinewood Studios last year. But filming there has been delayed at least five months.

Eon couldn’t just give up that space. Demand for space at Pinewood is high. So that’s a few months without any footage actually being shot. That makes it harder to economize.

An expensive script doctor: Scott Z. Burns recently spent four weeks working on Bond 25’s script. He’s a well-regarded scribe and he’s moving into directing. His services are in demand. It’s likely his Bond 25 services didn’t come cheap. (UPDATE: Burns’s involvement was confirmed in late April at the “reveal” event in Jamaica.)

The star may have gotten a raise: Variety last year reported that Daniel Craig will receive $25 million for his fifth 007 film. The truth is known to Craig, Eon boss Barbara Broccoli, Craig’s agent and the various studios backing Bond 25. Still, it’s unlikely Craig’s services are receiving discounted rates.

The Mission: Impossible franchise means now isn’t the time to economize: This is a favorite fan theory/speculation. During the 2010s, the Mission: Impossible films starring and produced by Tom Cruise have cranked out three entries while Eon’s 007 series will have two.

Moreover, the M:I films have gotten a lot of attention for their stunts, big set pieces and international intrigue — things the 007 films are known for.

Paramount recently announced the Cruise M:I series will produce two more entries back-to-back, coming out in 2021 and 2022. By the time the latter entry is out, Cruise will be 60 and Christopher McQuarrie will have written and directed four films.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge talks to BBC about No Time to Die

Phoebe Waller-Bridge

Phoebe Waller-Bridge downplayed the extent of her script work for No Time to Die in an interview with the BBC.

“They were just looking for tweaks across a few of the characters and a few of the storylines,” Waller-Bridge told the BBC.

The writer-actress said her hiring by itself didn’t represent a big change in the way women are depicted in the Bond film series.

“They were already doing that themselves,” the BBC quoted her as saying.

“They’re having that conversation with themselves the whole time. It (her involvement) was much more practical. Just, ‘You’re a writer, we need some help with these scenes. And you come up with some dialogue for these characters’.”

Waller-Bridge was one of a number of writers who worked on the 25th James Bond film. Others include series veterans Neal Purvis and Robert Wade as well as “script doctor” Scott Z. Burns.

However, Waller-Bridge has a higher profile because she starred in Fleabag, a streaming series she created. She recently walked off with three Fleabag-related Emmy awards.

What’s more, some outlets have played up her contributions as critical. The Daily Mail, in a September story, quoted an executive it didn’t identify as saying she was “the savior of Bond, really.”

In the BBC interview, Waller-Bridge said she was first approached by Bond producer Barbara Broccoli.

“We met for coffee and then a few months later we met again,” Waller-Bridge told the BBC. “And then I met the director Cary Joji Fukunaga and then I met Daniel (Craig) after that. But I know Daniel and Barbara had been talking about it for while.”

About that fuss over Phoebe Waller-Bridge

Phoebe Waller-Bridge

The fuss about writer-actress Phoebe Waller-Bridge working on No Time to Die’s script isn’t going away. In part that’s because it’s getting hyped by various parties.

Case in point: The Sunday Times this week published an interview with star Daniel Craig. The actor said Waller-Brige is a great writer and there’s no reason she shouldn’t be on the project.

“Look, we’re having a conversation about Phoebe’s gender here, which is f****** ridiculous,” Craig told the newspaper.

The online entertainment site IndieWire decided to add some drama to the proceedings.

The IndieWire story ran with the headline, “Daniel Craig Shuts Down Reporter for Asking if Phoebe Waller-Bridge was a Bond Diversity Hire.”

A headline on Entertainment Tonight’s website boosted the hype a bit more. “Daniel Craig Claps Back At Reporter’s ‘F***ing Ridiculous’ Question About Whether Phoebe Waller-Bridge Was A Diversity Hire.”

That was an interesting take, especially given that the scribe for The Sunday Times didn’t feel shut down after Craig’s comments about Waller-Bridge.

It was then that I realised the more Craig shouts at you, the better things are going. He enjoys this sort of debate and, by virtue of the energetic rate he punches out words, nothing comes across as rude as it seems on the page. He is, instead, brusque and open. Just a really big fan of ironing things out and, like a friend in a pub during a fourth pint argument, any bad blood will be forgotten by the journey home.

Hence, we got a little drama where it perhaps really didn’t exist.

In a perfect world, Waller-Bridge’s gender would have nothing to do with her work on No Time to Die. But that’s not going to happen for a variety of reasons.

First, not that many women writers have worked on Bond films until now and only Johanna Harwood received a credit (Dr. No and From Russia With Love).

Second, Waller-Bridge is also a performer as well a scribe and has more visibility than most writers, female or male.

Finally, Waller-Bridge’s participation in No Time to Die may become a talking point for the movie.

The Daily Mail’s Baz Bamigboye had a September story quoting an unidentified executive (described as being close to the production) as saying Waller-Bridge’s “great” contribution to the script was “the savior of Bond, really.”

If Bamigboye’s source really is “close to the production,” then expect to hear more of this sort of thing.

Meanwhile, the notion of Waller-Bridge as No Time to Die’s savior is amusing given how another entertainment website, The Playlist, earlier this year essentially hyped another No Time to Die screenwriter, Scott Z. Burns, as saving the movie.

Who knew Bond needed so much saving?

For her part, Waller-Bridge hasn’t said much about No Time to Die. She said in a Deadline: Hollywood interview that Bond doesn’t have to change but the movies need to treat women better

In any case, expect more fuss related to Waller-Bridge between now and April when No Time to Die comes out.

No Time to Die wraps filming (evidently)

No Time to Die logo

No Time to Die has apparently completed (or is about to complete) filming. At least it is done enough that crew members are taking to social media to say their goodbyes. (CLICK HERE and CLICK HERE for examples.) Even if those posts are a bit premature, this stage of the saga is ending.

To say the journey has had its ups and downs is an understatement. An ankle injury to its star, Daniel Craig. An explosion in June that damaged the exterior of the 007 Stage at Pinewood Studios. More than one tabloid headline referring to a doomed production.

Meanwhile, a team of writers, including Bond newcomers Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Scott Z. Burns, wrestled with the story. A new director to the series, Cary Fukunaga, is following in the footsteps of Terence Young and other directors for the Eon series.

There is, of course, a lot that fans are curious about. What’s the name of the villain played by Rami Malek? To date, there have been no stills of the actor in character. What about a trailer? Who knows at this point. What will new composer Dan Romer bring to the party?

Still, there have been some of the usual moments in the lead up to a new Bond film. A Bond actress proclaiming her character is different than all those other Bond women? Ana de Armas just came through in a feature story.

Next up: Putting the movie together in time for an April 2020 release. By now, Bond films are well known for tight post-production schedules. There will likely be some late nights in the editing bays ahead — if they haven’t started already.

UPDATE (5:40 p.m., New York time): The MI6 James Bond website says filming is scheduled to be actually completed on Friday, Oct. 25. See the tweet below.

 

Scott Z. Burns talks (a little) about No Time to Die

Scott Z. Burns

Scott Z. Burns, one of No Time to Die’s screenwriters, discussed the 25th James Bond film as part of a longer feature story in Variety.

“It was being able to throw in with a group of really talented people on a franchise that had a huge impact on me,” Burns told Variety.

“I mean, it’s a dream come true to have grown up in Minnesota watching James Bond movies, and then you look at your laptop and you’re writing the name Bond and then writing dialogue underneath it. If anybody would have told me that was ever going to happen, I would have never believed them.”

The writer received Variety’s 2019 Creative Impact in Screenwriting Award. The outlet’s article was a look at Burns’ screenwriting career.

Burns’ credits include scripts for The Bourne Ultimatum and Contagion. He also has a reputation as a top “script doctor” in Hollywood.

The Playlist reported in February that Burns was working on the No Time to Die script. The hiring was confirmed in late April during a “reveal” event in Jamaica that also disclosed various casting movies. Burns was hired to work for four weeks, The Playlist said in its story.

Burns coming aboard initially created a buzz. It later got overshadowed when it came out that actress-writer Phoebe Waller-Bridge was also working on the movie. The original No Die to Die writers were Bond veterans Neal Purvis and Robert Wade.

Waller-Bridge says 007 ‘relevant,’ films must evolve

Phoebe Waller-Bridge

The character of James Bond remains “relevant” while the 007 film series needs to treat women properly, Bond 25 screenwriter Phoebe Waller-Bridge said in an interview with Deadline: Hollywood. 

“There’s been a lot of talk about whether or not [the Bond franchise] is relevant now because of who he is and the way he treats women,” Waller-Bridge told Deadline. “I think that’s bollocks. I think he’s absolutely relevant now.

“It has just got to grow,” she added. “It has just got to evolve, and the important thing is that the film treats the women properly. He doesn’t have to. He needs to be true to this character.”

The Deadline story contains some of Waller-Bridge’s most detailed comments about Bond 25. She has been interviewed a lot recently, with most of the stories concerning the second season of her streaming series Fleabag.

Waller-Bridge’s involvement with Bond 25 became known in April. In the Deadline interview, she complimented star Daniel Craig and said the movie’s story is in good shape.

“When I saw (Craig’s) Bond for the first time, there was a wryness to his performance that I really loved,” the writer-actress told Deadline. “So, I was really excited about writing dialogue for him. I mean, the script was there. It’s already there. I think it’s unfair to say that I’m writing the script.”

Besides Waller-Bridge, Bond 25’s roster of writers includes Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and Scott Z. Burns.