RE-POST: What happened with Quantum of Solace’s script?

This is a re-post from 2011. It’s worth noting because a new WGA strike started this week and various entertainment websites are providing incomplete accounts of what occurred with Quantum of Solace because of the previous WGA walkout.

Daniel Craig recently gave an interview to Time Out magazine where he said he and Quantum of Solace director Marc Forester had to rewrite the film’s screenplay because it was only “the bare bones of a script” because of a Writers Guild of America strike. In the process, Craig told the magazine, the process turned Quantum into much more of a direct sequel to Casino Royale than originally intended.

The quotes from that interview keep turning up LIKE IN THIS POST on the Yahoo! Movies Web site. So by now, “Craig Had to Rewrite Quantum of Solace” has become an established narrative among fans.

Except, three years ago, while the movie was being filmed, writer Joshua Zetumer was supposed to be polishing the script during filming, according to stories LIKE THIS ONE FROM APRIL 2008 and THIS ONE.

Both of those appear to be based on a ROTTEN TOMATOES STORY. That story read in part:

Forster and (producer Michael G.) Wilson both revealed that an earlier idea for the film was scrapped when Forster came aboard to helm. “Once I signed on to do it we pretty much developed the script from scratch because I felt that it wasn’t the movie I wanted to make and we started with Paul Haggis [the Oscar winner who rewrote Casino Royale] from scratch,” Forster recalled. “And I said to him these are the topics I am interested in this is what I would like to say, what’s important to me. And we developed it from there together. Then Barbara and Michael said they liked where we were going and they liked the script.”

The Writers’ Guild strike, which began just as Quantum of Solace was gearing up for production, did not impact the production as much as the industry trade papers had speculated. “The good thing is that Paul and I and Daniel all worked on the script before the strike happened and got it where we were pretty happy with,” Forster said. “Then we started shooting and the only problems I had with the script we were shooting in April, May and June so as soon as the strike was over we did another polish with someone and it worked out with all this stuff coming up. So I was pretty happy with all the work we’d done in January and February so [there won’t be any need for reshoots].” (emphasis added)

Now bear in mind this passage is referring to the same Writers Guild strike that Daniel Craig says in 2011 meant Quantum had only “a bare bones of a script.” And once the strike was over, Zetumer was around to help do last-minute polishes, although you wouldn’t know that if you read the Time Out interview.

And what was the script that got rejected, causing a race to get a new script done before the Writers Guild strike? Forster revealed details in a post ON THE VULTURE BLOG OF NEW YORK MAGAZINE.

“Haggis had an idea they weren’t fond of, and I didn’t know if it would work or not,” says Forster. “The idea was that Vesper in the last movie, maybe she had a kid, and there would be an orphan out there. It wasn’t anything to insult the franchise. But they felt it wasn’t particularly Bond — him looking for the kid. I think Paul thought he just leaves the kid, he doesn’t deal with it. But [the producers] thought that would be really nasty, too, because Bond was an orphan himself. If he would find a kid, would he just leave it? They were so vehemently against it. That was the only time I saw, really, ‘No, we can’t do that.’ They said, ‘Once he finds the kid, Bond can’t just leave the kid. It’s not right.'”

So let’s recap. Haggis had an idea that Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli rejected. Haggis turns in another script just ahead of the Writers Guild strike in fall 2007. Marc Forster says in spring 2008 that script was fine, while some polishing was done after the strike by Joshua Zetumer.

Now, in 2011, Daniel Craig says he and Forster did all the work on the final script, with no word of any contributions by Haggis, Zetumer, Neal Purvis or Robert Wade.

Needless to say, all of this can’t be true. You be the judge which (if any) of these tales is the truth. But next time you hear how Skyfall will be “Bond with a capital B,” or will be a “classic Bond” or how director Sam Mendes is “working his arse off,” remember those are mere words.

Maybe Skyfall will be a classic Bond. If it is, it won’t be because of words uttered by cast and crew members during filming. The verdict will be determined by the finished film. Words change before, during and after filming. It’s the film that endures and is the ultimate report card.

Quantum’s 15th: Impact still felt on 007 franchise

International poster for Quantum of Solace

Adapted and updated from a 2018 post

This fall marks the 15th anniversary of Quantum of Solace, the 22nd 007 film made by Eon Productions. It’s a production that still reverberates with the franchise.

It was the last time the makers of James Bond films tried to come out with an entry just two years after the previous installment. It’s probably the last time this will happen.

As Casino Royale was ending production, Sony Pictures put out a July 20, 2006 release (the press release was once online but has been yanked by the studio) saying it intended to release Bond 22 (as it was then known) quickly — May 2, 2008.

“As we wrap production on CASINO ROYALE we couldn’t be more excited about the direction the franchise is heading with Daniel Craig. Daniel has taken the origins of Ian Fleming’s James Bond portraying, with emotional complexity, a darker and edgier 007,” Eon’s Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli were quoted in the press release.

Writers Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, with three Bond films under their belt, were aboard to come up with a story for what Eon would later describe as the series’ first “direct sequel.”

There were soon signs the pace was causing some strains.

‘Very Nervous’
Director Roger Michell (1956-2021) opted not to helm the movie because he felt the story wasn’t developed enough. In 2007, Michell gave an interview to The Times. The original link to the interview is broken, but the Commander Bond website’s summary includes some of Michell’s comments.

“‘Well, I did give up directing the Bond film,” Michell told The Times, according to the Commander Bond summary. “It was because in the end I didn’t feel comfortable with the Bond process, and I was very nervous that there was a start date but really no script at all. And I like to be very well prepared as a director.”

Eventually, Quantum was pushed back to a fall 2008 release. But there were still time pressures. The Writers Guild of America was in labor talks and a strike deadline was looming. The union went on strike from November 2007 to February 2008, with the Bond movie starting production in early 2008.

There are conflicting versions of the movie’s story process.

Marc Forster

The director hired for the movie, Marc Forster, said in an April 2008 Rotten Tomatoes story, said there was a reset after he arrived.

‘From Scratch’
“Once I signed on to do it we pretty much developed the script from scratch because I felt that it wasn’t the movie I wanted to make and we started with Paul Haggis from scratch,” Forster said in the story. Haggis was the writer who did the final drafts of Casino Royale.

“And I said to him these are the topics I am interested in this is what I would like to say, what’s important to me,” the director said. “And we developed it from there together. Then Barbara and Michael said they liked where we were going and they liked the script.”

In this interview, Forster said everything worked out fine.

“The good thing is that Paul and I and Daniel all worked on the script before the strike happened and got it where we were pretty happy with,” the director said. “Then we started shooting and the only problems I had with the script we were shooting in April, May and June so as soon as the strike was over we did another polish.”

The writer doing that polish, Forster said, was Joshua Zetumer. The scribe’s involvement with the film was noted in other stories written during the production.

More Complicated
Forster, in a Nov. 3, 2008 story on the Vulture culture blog of New York magazine, indicated things were more complicated.

“Haggis had an idea they weren’t fond of, and I didn’t know if it would work or not,” Forster told Vulture. “The idea was that Vesper in the last movie, maybe she had a kid, and there would be an orphan out there.”

Eventually, with the clocking ticking to a WGA strike, the idea of Bond searching for Vesper’s child was rejected. Haggis, though, delivered a script ahead of the WGA walkout.

Daniel Craig in 2012 during filming of Skyfall.

In 2011, as Skyfall was preparing production, a new scenario was unveiled.

Daniel Craig in an interview with Time Out London, said he and Forster were forced to rewrite the script as Quantum was being filmed.

The actor described what they had as a “bare bones of a script.” Because of the WGA strike, “We couldn’t employ a writer to finish it.”

This tale has emerged as the now-accepted version, with Joshua Zetumer the movie’s forgotten man.

(This SUMMARY OF THE INTERVIEW ON INDIEWIRE has the Craig quotes involved.)

The movie did fine at the box office, with $586 million globally. But Quantum’s biggest effect may be that Eon doesn’t want to rush things if it can help it.

External Pressures’
“Sometimes there are external pressures from a studio who want you to make it in a certain time frame or for their own benefit, and sometimes we’ve given into that,” Eon’s Barbara Broccoli told the Los Angeles Times in 2012.

Barbara Broccoli

“But following what we hope will be a tremendous success with ‘Skyfall,’ we have to try to keep the deadlines within our own time limits and not cave in to external pressures,” the Eon boss told the newspaper.

She didn’t mention either Sony or Quantum of Solace. But it’s not much of a stretch to wonder if both were on her mind during that interview.

What’s more, a Sony executive told theater executives in 2012 that Bond 24 (eventually titled SPECTRE) would be out in 2014. Broccoli and Craig, in a May 1, 2012 interview with Collider, shut down such talk.

Broccoli: He was getting a little overexcited (laughs). We’re just actually focusing on this movie. One hopes that in the future we’ll be announcing other films, but no one’s officially announced it.

Craig: No one’s announced anything. He got a little ahead of himself (laughs). It’s very nice that he has the confidence to be able to do that, but we haven’t finished this movie yet.

SPECTRE, of course, came out in 2015, not 2014.

Today, Quantum occupies an odd space. Despite its financial success, it wasn’t discussed much in the 2012 documentary Everything Or Nothing. But many fans feel it’s more than a worthy entry in the Eon-made series.

Regardless of how you feel about the movie, though, it had an impact on the franchise. Trying to make a James Bond film within two years is now unthinkable. There would be a six-year gap between SPECTRE and No Time to Die. The COVID-19 pandemic was a major reason, but not the only one.

As for Bond 26? Who knows. It’s obviously not coming out in 2023 (two years after No Time to Die). There’s no script, no Bond actor, no director (as of this writing), etc., etc.

Bond 26 questions

Nature abhors a vacuum. With that in mind, here are some modest questions concerning Bond 26.

Time to lighten up? Over the past five Bond films made by Eon Productions there has been a lot of angst.

Bond losing his lady love (Casino Royale, based on Ian Fleming’s first novel). Bond out for revenge (Quantum of Solace). Bond not able to save M (Skyfall). Bond discovers his foster brother was his greatest enemy (SPECTRE). Bond getting blown up with missiles (No Time to Die).

The Daniel Craig era of Bond films (which started over from the previous 20 movies) was often very serious. That era was a big difference from the mostly escapist Eon adventures that preceded it. Should the past be the future?

Could it be time to lighten things up?

Time to reduce the budget? The Bond film series has a history of hiking production budgets and bringing them back under control.

With SPECTRE and No Time to Die, the production budgets exploded. U.K. regulatory filings in 2020 suggested No Time to Die’s budget was nearing $300 million. That doesn’t include marketing costs. Is this sustainable? Sure, delays related COVID-19 were a factor. But the film industry has, more or less, adjusted to all that.

Time to let go of the homages to past Bond movies? Quantum of Solace, SPECTRE, and No Time to Die all had homages (critics would say crutches) to previous Bond films.

No Time to Die alone had multiples homages to On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. At one point, Bond is meeting with M in London with John Barry’s theme from Majesty’s plays in the background. There are multiple references to the John Barry-Hal David song We Have All the Time in the World. And, of course, we get the Aston DB5 (in the form of newly built replica cars).

Is it maybe time to move on from the homages?

As usual, we’ll see.

Washington Post argues for Skyfall as 2012’s best picture

Daniel Craig in 2012 during filming of Skyfall.

The Washington Post, in an article about what movies should have won the Best Picture Oscar, says Skyfall should have received the award for 2012.

The story originally was published in 2016 but has been updated because of the Oscars ceremony scheduled for March 12.

Here’s the article’s entry for 2012:

Go big or go home. Listen, this was a tough year: “Argo” was delightful, but Spielberg was working at a much higher level of difficulty by making the weighty themes of “Lincoln” so human and relatable. But that’s beside the point: The academy had one chance to give a Bond movie the Oscar, and it was with the confident, thrilling, psyche-probing “Skyfall.” Bond may be the best franchise of all times, but its individual films rarely connect on all levels like this one did.

Skyfall wasn’t even nominated for Best Picture. The nominees were Amour, Argo, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Les Miserables, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, and Zero Dark Thirty. Argo ended up winning.

Skyfall received five nominations. It won two, Best Song (the film’s title song) and it shared a sound award with Zero Dark Thirty. The results snapped a long Oscar drought for the Bond film series. Bond had previously won for special effects for Thunderball.

Still, there was disappointment among Bond fans. Roger Deakins had been nominated for Skyfall’s cinematography but didn’t win. (He would later win for Blade Runner 2049 and 1917.) And the film wasn’t nominated for acting, directing, or writing.

Since Skyfall, the Bond series has won two more Best Song Oscars for SPECTRE and No Time to Die.

Broccoli seeks to cool down Bond 26 speculation

Barbara Broccoli, boss of Eon Productions

Barbara Broccoli, the boss of Eon Productions, has again tried to cool down temperatures related to Bond 26.

Last week, the LAD Bible website carried some comments from Broccoli that Bond 26 isn’t that far along.

“No, we haven’t even started casting yet,” she said. “There isn’t even a script.”

In past months, there have been stories from British tabloids such as The Sun that Eon has gotten hot and bothered about Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Eon’s Bond No. 007 to succeed Daniel Craig.

Some Bond fans have bitten on such reports. They figure there’s something behind such smoke.

Over the past year (or longer), there’s a notion that Eon is coming up with a long-range plan.

IF that’s true, that would be a change.

During the Daniel Craig era (2006-2021), Eon said Skyfall (2012) had nothing to do with Casino Royale (2006) and Quantum of Solace (2008).

But, with 2015’s SPECTRE was suddenly talked about part of an extended storyline (especially after Eon regained the rights to the character of Ernst Stavro Blofeld). That was extended with No Time to Die.

Eon *never* envisioned a five-part arc. But, as the movies unfolded, the talking points changed.

Now, we’re told that Eon is trying to come up with an extended plan for a post-Craig era. Maybe yes, maybe no.

But, as the saying goes, when the legend becomes fact, print the legend.

A history of Christopher Nolan as next Bond director

Christopher Nolan

There has long been fan interest in the idea of Christopher Nolan directing a James Bond film. This week, The Bond Geek channel on YouTube brought up the idea again.

Nolan is a self-confessed Bond fan. Some bits from his trilogy of Batman movies (2005, 2008, 2012) have homages to the Bond film series. So did his 2010 movie Inception, where one segment seemed based on On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

What’s more, Nolan’s name comes up every so often in connection with Bond movies.

It happened in 2013 when Nolan was mentioned as a possible director for Bond 24 (finally titled SPECTRE).

It happened again in December 2017, when a fan website said Nolan was “more than likely” to direct Bond 25, finally titled No Time to Die. I’d provide the link, except the fan site apparently took the article down.

As the blog has written before, the Bond series itself has been affected by Nolan. 2012’s Skyfall had Nolan inflences. Director Sam Mendes said so.

That influence continued with SPECTRE, which had Hoyte Van Hoytema as director of photography and Lee Smith as editor.

If you bring Nolan inside the Eon 007 tent, there are other issues. With Nolan, you typically also get the involvement of his production company, Syncopy. Nolan gets a producer’s credit. So does his wife, Emma Thomas.

As usual, we’ll see. Nolan’s next film, Oppenheimer, is scheduled for release in July 2023. Here’s the trailer:

About that Daniel Craig LAT interview

Daniel Craig’s 007

Daniel Craig, after a five-film run as James Bond, reflected on his 007 run (Casino Royale through No Time to Die) in an interview with the Los Angeles Times.

Whatever your feelings about those five movies, the LAT interview showed the 54-year-old actor has mixed feelings. An excerpt:

“It’s my fault because I kind of didn’t shut up about the fact that I had all these injuries. I’m pissed off at myself that I ever even spoke about them,” Craig said. “I put way more work into the creative side of those movies than I did into the physical side of those movies. The physical side of the movies was just the job. I had to do it. I trained, learned the fights, that’s kind of my brain not working. The rest of it, the look, the feel, the kind of the temperature of the movies, getting Sam Mendes in to direct ‘Skyfall,’ that’s where the hard work was. Going to the gym is hard work, but it’s not really brain hard work.”

Craig endured numerous injuries. He also had unprecedented input (compared to previous actors employed by Eon Productions) into the plot and other aspects of the movies.

The actor, a year after No Time to Die came out, claims it was his idea for his version of Bond to be killed.

“Two things, one for myself and one for the franchise,” Craig said. “One, for the franchise, was that resets start again, which [the franchise] did with me. And I was like, ‘Well, you need to reset again.’ So let’s kill my character off and go find another Bond and go find another story. Start at [age] 23, start at 25, start at 30.

To be sure, there’s a lot of after-the-fact story telling before and after a movie comes out. “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend,” which is a line from 1962’s The Man Who Shot Liberty Vallance. That’s still the case in the 21st century.

Quotes from Craig’s interviews have split Bond movie fans. Craig fans say that shows why he’s a great actor. Craig critics cite this why he’s selfish.

Whatever. It remains to be seen whether Eon gets on with the business of a post-Craig era.

Sam Mendes makes his Bond film case

Sam Mendes

Sam Mendes has made points about his two-film tenure in the James Bond film series. Some are new, some provide new twists.

The director, in a Nov. 8 story by The Hollywood Reporter, made new versions of previous comments about his time on Skyfall and SPECTRE, the only Bond films made during the 2010s.

The Skyfall delay was good! Bond 23, which would become Skyfall, originally was to be written by Peter Morgan and the writing team of Neal Purvis and Robert Wade.

Bond’s home studio, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, entered bankruptcy in 2010, resulting in delays. An excerpt from the THR story:

Mendes and his collaborators used the downtime as an opportunity to creatively resuscitate the film’s storyline.

Morgan exited the project while Mendes brought in writer John Logan to rework the scripting by Purvis and Wade. Mendes has said that process helped the film and he repeats that in the new THR story.

Skyfall was the first time acknowledging that Bond aged: Skyfall “acknowledged the passage of time, arguably for the first time ever, in the series. It acknowledged that they are mortal, that they are going to age and probably die,” Mendes told THR.

Arguably, no it wasn’t. When Sean Connery did interviews for Diamonds Are Forever in 1971, he said he was playing Bond as older. In For Your Eyes Only, Roger Moore’s Bond goes to the gravesite of his late wife Tracy. That movie came out in 1981 but Tracy’s headstone says she died in 1969 (the year On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was released). Lois Maxwell’s Moneypenny in 1983’s Octopussy acknowledged being older.

For more details, CLICK HERE.

SPECTRE was something else: The director didn’t get additional time for 2015’s SPECTRE.

With SPECTRE, “that time was not afforded to me,” Mendes told THR. “[With Spectre], I felt there was some pressure. Certainly Barbara (Broccoli) and Michael (G. Wilson) exerted some pressure on me and Daniel to make the next one, so that makes a big difference. People saying: ‘We want you to do it,’ and passionately wooing me to do it, was a big thing.”

Of course, Mendes could have said no. In 2015, Mendes told the BBC he almost turned SPECTRE down. “I said no to the last one and then ended up doing it, and was pilloried by all my friends,” Mendes told the BBC. “But I do think this is probably it.”

While not referenced by THR, SPECTRE also saw entire scripts made public because of hacks into Sony’s computer system. (Sony released four of the five Daniel Craig 007 films.) In addition to scripts, details about tax breaks from Mexico for SPECTRE became public. With SPECTRE, the writing team of Purvis and Wade was brought in to rewrite John Logan.

Mendes, Arnold to participate in 007 music programs

Sam Mendes

This month, Royal Albert Hall in London will be the site of music programs for Casino Royale, Skyfall and SPECTRE. Composer David Arnold and director Sam Mendes are scheduled to participate.

Here are the descriptions

Casino Royale in Concert

Thu 17 Nov

Daniel Craig makes his debut as the one and only 007. Featuring an in-person introduction from Casino Royale composer David Arnold.

For more information: CLICK HERE.

Skyfall in Concert

Fri 18 Nov

Bond looks back to his family roots in this roaring espionage adventure. Featuring an in-person introduction from director Sam Mendes.

For more information, CLICK HERE.

SPECTRE in Concert

Sat 19 – Sun 20 Nov

Watch Bond infiltrate a mysterious criminal organization known as Spectre. Saturday’s evening performance will feature an in-person introduction by director Sam Mendes. For more information, CLICK HERE.

The programs feature the Hall Philharmonic Orchestra. The score for Casino Royale was composed by Arnold. Thomas Newman, Mendes’ choice for composer, worked on the scores for Skyfall and SPECTRE.

Just one more thing, as Lt. Columbo used to say, Daniel Craig was “the one and only 007”? I realize the hall needs to sell tickets, but really?

The celebration of the Daniel Craig era of Bond continues.

UPDATE: A reader suggests the Casino Royale event referring to “the one and only 007” means Bond the character rather than Craig the actor. Perhaps so. But Eon Productions, which makes the Bond films, has made clear Craig is the best film Bond.

Bond 26 questions: The Variety interview edition

A previous Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

So, Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson gave an interview to Variety. The Eon Productions duo again said James Bond won’t return to theater screens soon and they’re looking for the next actor to make a long-time commitment.

However, there were other interesting tidbits. Naturally, the blog has questions.

How many Bond films will get made during an actor’s “10-, 12-year commitment”?

That’s the kind of commitment the Eon pair said they’re looking for from a new Bond actor. But at the current rate of production, that might only be three films. The Eon series had only two entries — Skyfall and SPECTRE — during the entire decade of the 2010s.

Yes, there were external factors, including Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s bankruptcy in 2010 and COVID-19 in 2020. But some of the gaps were self-imposed, including putting off the development of what became No Time to Die to try and get Daniel Craig back for another movie.

Will Bond 26 with a new actor really be that much different than Craig’s run?

One passage in the Variety story suggests not.

Both Wilson and Broccoli, who is a director of the U.K. chapter of women’s advocacy org Time’s Up, have left their mark on Bond, particularly in humanizing the once-womanizing spy and ensuring more fulfilling, meatier roles for the female stars of the franchise. These are qualities that will continue in the next films, says Broccoli. (emphasis added)

What are they up to in the interim?

Barbara Broccoli is one of the producers of Till, a fact-based film about the lynching of 14-year-old Emmett Till in 1955 and its aftermath. It’s due out next month. Wilson “has written a TV show that the duo are looking to set up,” according to Variety. And both are involved in producing an Amazon streaming show 007’s Road to a Million. That is currently in production, Variety says. Amazon also owns MGM.