SPECTRE’s script: Sibling (sort of) rivalry

Daniel Craig in SPECTRE’s gunbarrel

SPECTRE, the 24th James Bond film, had more scrutiny than most James Bond films. Thanks to the 2014 hacking of Sony Pictures, at least two versions of the script and many related e-mails ended up going out ahead of filming that began in December 2014.

By the time of a 129-page, Dec. 1, 2014 draft — one week before the start of principal photography — the story was mostly locked down. Neal Purvis and Robert Wade had rewritten earlier drafts by John Logan.

However, there would still be changes made before the final film.

The Dec. 1 draft, referring to the gunbarrel sequence, said: “IRIS OPENS on the eye-socket of a SKULL.

“It’s the Day of the Dead.”

The official James Bond Twitter feed in early 2015 teased this idea as part of its series of clapperboard photos.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

However, in the final film, the gunbarrel (or iris) didn’t open up on anything. The image of Bond having shot his gun went black and the words, “The dead are live” appeared. Then an image of the Day of the Dead parade (including a skull float) appeared.

The stage directions establish what audiences would see in the fall of 2015.

In this sea of RED and BLACK we pick up a MAN IN A WHITE SUIT AND BLACK MASK moving against the stream…

This is MARCO SCIARRA. An assassin.

Now the man bumps into someone — and, as he continues on, WE FOLLOW THE MAN HE BUMPED INTO…

It’s JAMES BOND. Also an assassin.

What follows is very similar to the final film. Bond is with a woman named Estrella, who he eventually ditches to go after Sciarra. However, there’s a brief exchange later that wouldn’t be part of the final film.

BACK TO BOND. Steely as he looks over Mexico. His cell phone rings.

ESTRELLA (O.S)
I thought you said you wouldn’t be long…

BOND
Something came up.

An aerial shot of the helicopter flying over the city into the setting sun.

ESTRELLA (O.S.)
Well – I hope you found what you were looking for.

He looks down…at the small ring he now holds in his palm.

BOND
It’s a start.

After the titles, Bond goes to see M. The stage directions indicate 007’s actions in Mexico are the talk of the office. “As he strides down the corridor, people fall silent. Analysts whisper.” Bond also notices new cameras being installed.

Poster for SPECTRE

In the final film, after the title things began directly with Bond’s meeting with M. In the script, the cameras would be referenced when Bond meets C.

“…cameras. You put up all the cameras,” Bond says.

“Well, you’ve nothing to hide, have you Bond?” C replies.

Judi Dench’s Return

Later, when Bond shows Moneypenny the video message he received from the former M (Judi Dench), the stage directions list the character as “M (Judi).” Her lines are in italic type.

The Moneypenny-Bond scene is a bit longer than the final film, but not substantially different. It does turn out there’s a woman in Bond’s bedroom. “James? I’m lonely…Come back to bed…” After Moneypenny departs, the woman asks Bond who was just there.

Bond goes to Rome and infiltrates a SPECTRE meeting. The script briefly introduces the movie’s villain but there are no clues yet to his real identity.

As in the final film, Bond makes his getaway in the Aston Martin he took from MI6 while SPECTRE’s Hinx follows in a Jaguar. The stage directions specify that “Dusty Springfield’s ‘SPOOKY'” come out of the Aston’s Martin’s speakers at one point.

Skipping ahead, Bond meets up with Mr. White, more or less as he did in the final film. After White kills himself, Bond is trying to meet up with his daughter Madeline Swann.

When he tracks her down, the script has a few more details. Bond says he was 11 when his parents died.

By page 61, Bond has put it together than Franz Oberhauser is behind all the villainy. “He was older than me,” Bond tells Q. “We barely spoke. But he knows me. Check his name. And check for multiple identities.”

“And what’s your plan exactly?” Q asks.

“Find him,” Bond replies. “And kill him.”

Big Reveal

Bond gives Q the ring he took from Sciarra back in Mexico City. Q begins working with his laptop. The stage directions emphasize how the previous Daniel Craig 007 films are now interlocked.

“On Q’s LAPTOP, the connections are starting to accumulate. THE IMAGE OF LE CHIFFRE IS JOINED BY VESPER LYND, DOMINIC GREENE AND THEN … RAOUL SILVA.”

Meanwhile, as in the film, C shows off to M how all of MI6 personnel are under surveillance. The script, though, has a scene where M confronts Moneypenny for aiding Bond without his knowledge.

“I do hope it wasn’t for love,” M says. “If so — you’ve been made a fool.”

“This sears into her,” according to the stage directions. “And in recoiling from that pain, she learns her answer.”

Moneypenny’s reply: “It wasn’t love. It was loyalty.”

“Conspiculously not loyalty to M,” the stage directions read. “Painful to him.”

More back and forth takes place when Moneypenny says Bond was following orders.

“Who from?” M asks.

“Your predecessor, sir.” This, of course, shakes M up.

Dad Always Liked You Best!

Bond and Madeline eventually head out to find Oberhauser. There’s a final confrontation between Bond and Hinx. The script makes it sound like Hinx dies (the script says he is “sucked under the wheel”). Also, in this script, M manages to get a telegram message to Bond. “DOUBLE-0 SECTION FINISHED — STOP GOOD LUCK — STOP M.”

SPECTRE teaser image

On page 97, Bond and Oberhauser finally meet. Their exchange goes on for a few pages. On page 102, we cut to the chase.

“Me, I was not a well child,” Oberhauser says. “But I had loving, doting parents. Then one day, they brought another boy into our home. This boy was an orphan. His parents had died in a climbing accident.”

Of course, the boy was Bond.

“I would sit in my room alone listening to my father hour after hour playing cards with this boy.”

Translation: Dad always liked you best!

Oberhauser goes on to describe the time he played poker with Bond, using hazelnuts as chips.

OBERHAUSER (CONT’D)
And the next hand I was dealt All Hearts to the King. A flush! And I pushed all my hazelnuts into the middle. And cuckoo looked at me. And he did the same. Then he reached to his wrist, and he took off his big silver watch his own dead father had given him, and he placed it on the table. And suddenly…I panicked.

Yes, young Bond bluffed young Oberhauser. Bond had a pair of threes. This was the inspiration for Oberhauser to become a super villain.

This continues on to page 106, where Bond reveals to Oberhauser the latter was really adopted. “Your name, your real name …is Ernest Serban.”

Oberhauser remains frozen. Bond leans in.

BOND (CONT’D)
Who’s the cuckoo now?

Let’s skip to the ending. Bond shoots Oberhauser three times but doesn’t kill him.

“KILL ME you coward! KILL ME!!” Oberhauser says.

“Where’s the fun in that?” Bond replies.

According to the stage direction, it’s a week later when Bond shows up and talks to Q.

As in the final film, Bond and Madeline are in the Aston Martin DB5. But there’s some addditional dialogue in the scrip.

MADELINE
Where will we go, James?

BOND
I have a few ideas. After all…
(He smiles at her.)
We have all the time in the world.

The final stage directions say the DB5 roars away “TAKING THEM SOMEWHERE…ANYWHERE….TOGETHER.”

Being James Bond analyzes SPECTRE

SPECTRE LOGO

The Being James Bond website has done a detailed analysis of SPECTRE, the most recent 007 film.

The analysis runs more than an hour, taking on everything from the return of the gunbarrel logo to the start of the film (for the first time since 2002’s Die Another Day) and whether it was well executed, to the movie’s troubled third act (which was revealed before the movie went into production because of the hacking at Sony Picturies in 2014).

Readers may agree or disagree with the points presented, but it’s clear a lot of effort went into this. So, if you’re interested, you can view the embedded video below:

 

Reading between the lines of THR’s story on MGM and Sony

SPECTRE teaser poster

SPECTRE teaser poster

The Hollywood Reporter has A STORY BY GREGG KILDAY examining whether Sony Pictures will no longer release 007 films after SPECTRE. But the story has some other interesting data as well.

Sony has released all four Bond films of the Daniel Craig era, but its current two-film deal expires with SPECTRE. Here’s a look at some of the other side issues raised in the story.

SPECTRE’s budget: Kilday quotes sources he doesn’t identify as insisting “that the final net budget now stands in the neighborhood of $250 million.”

It’s known, thanks to the Sony hacks, that SPECTRE spending was on track to reach around $350 million. The Hollywood Reporter story suggests that production placement and similar deals (such as the subsidies Mexico paid out to the production) helped bring in about $100 million to offset a substantial portion of those costs.

Mind games between studios: There’s also an anecdote in the story about some mind games between Sony and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the studio that controls half of the Bond franchise along with the Broccoli-Wilson family.

According to the story, MGM told Sony in June 2013 if it wanted its name in a press release announcing the release date of the then-untitled movie, Sony had “to opt in immediately.” At the time, there was no firm budget but Sony was being pressed to commit anyway, THR says. (Not mentioned in the story: there wasn’t even a first-draft script. That wasn’t submitted by initial writer John Logan until March 2014.)

The release was issued in JULY 2013.It had this joint quote from Sony executives Michael Lynton and Amy Pascal: “It’s a privilege to work on the Bond films. EON, John Logan and Sam Mendes have come up with an extraordinary follow up to SKYFALL and we, along with our partners at MGM, can’t wait to share this new chapter with audiences all over the world.”

Subsequently, Logan was replaced writing the movie and Pascal was fired after bad publicity from the Sony hacks.

To read the entire Hollywood Reporter story, CLICK HERE.

Caveat Emptor (Cont.): NY Post says Craig told to shut up

SPECTRE poster

SPECTRE poster

The PAGE SIX GOSSIP PAGE of Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post tabloid newspaper says that 007 star Daniel Craig “has been told to shut up by execs at Sony.”

This follows the interview Craig gave Time Out London that was published last week.

In that interview, done a few days after the upcoming SPECTRE, had finished production, Craig was asked if he could imagine doing another 007 movie.

“I’d rather break this glass and slash my wrists,” he told Time Out London. “No, not at the moment. Not at all. That’s fine. I’m over it at the moment. We’re done. All I want to do is move on.”

Here’s an excerpt from the New York Post story:

Bond insiders said Craig’s cranky outburst to Time Out London was brought on by the tough shoot for the latest 007 installment.

One source said, “They had problems initially with the script, Craig was injured on the set and needed knee surgery, and they were still doing re-shoots last month, even though the movie is out in weeks.

Sony Pictures has released the last four 007 films, including SPECTRE. Computer hacks at the studio last year caused details of the 24th 007 film to become public, including versions of the movie’s script.

Meanwhile, the New York Post has a reputation similar to British tabloid newspapers. So, yet again, the caveat emptor label — let the buyer beware — applies. Take it for what it’s worth.

007 Magazine examines SPECTRE’s script issues

SPECTRE LOGO

No spoilers in this post. You’re on your own if you click on the links.

Graham Rye’s 007 Magazine has posted A LENGTHY STORY about SPECTRE, including A PORTION about script issues involving the 24th James Bond film.

The story by Luke G. Williams is split into two parts. The first sums up production developments involved with SPECTRE. The second part delves into the hacking at Sony Pictures, which caused at least some SPECTRE script drafts and numerous executive memos about the film to become available.

Some of the information about the scripts has been written about by other outlets, but 007 Magazine goes into further details.

The movie’s initial writer was John Logan, who was brought in to rewrite the efforts of Neal Purvis and Robert Wade on Skyfall. With SPECTRE, Purvis and Wade were brought in to revamp Logan’s efforts.

To read the entire article, CLICK HERE for part one, and CLICK HERE for part two. Spoilers are in part two.

Recap of ironic SPECTRE statements

SPECTRE LOGO

As SPECTRE is ready to wrap up principal photography, here’s a look back at some statements laden with irony and hidden meaning that weren’t evident at the time.

“John Logan and Sam Mendes have come up with an extraordinary follow up to SKYFALL and we, along with our partners at MGM, can’t wait to share this new chapter with audiences all over the world.” Sony executives Michael Lynton and Amy Pascal in a JULY 2013 PRESS RELEASE.

At the time, there was no script. A treatment arrived in the fall of 2013. Logan didn’t deliver a first draft until March 2014. Because of the hacking of Sony Pictures, it’s now known that studio executives were less than thrilled with what Logan (who always said he was working closely with Mendes) delivered. Logan would later be replaced by veteran 007 scribes Neal Purvis and Robert Wade.

A side note: bad publicity from the hacks caused Sony to fire Pascal (something she has publicly acknowledged).

“At the end of the day, it came down to the story…It was a story I wanted to tell.” This was Sam Mendes speaking on Dec. 4, 2014 to ENTERTAINMENT NOW.

At the time Mendes said that, rewrites to fix the last third of the story were being done right up to the Dec. 4 media event that the director hosted. Again, that’s only known because of the hacking at Sony Pictures.

“More pressure.” Mendes again on Dec. 4, on how SPECTRE would have a bigger budget than Skyfall and how it would affect him. With the Sony hacks, it’s known the budget had gone past $300 million, making the 24th James Bond film one of the most expensive of all time.

SPECTRE: What could have been

SPECTRE LOGO

No plot spoilers for the actual movie. If you think nothing should be written based on the Sony hack, stop reading now. No further warnings.

Now that WikiLeaks has set up a searchable index of hacked Sony documents, pretty much anybody with patience and an Internet connection can check out the pre-production of SPECTRE.

The Bleeding Cool website PUBLISHED A LONG POST based on the WiliLeaks material that contained a lot of spoilers and ideas considered, but rejected, for the movie. There have been other stories, SUCH AS THIS ONE concerning details of product placement deals.

The following doesn’t concern what’s in the movie — but could have had things gone differently.

October 2013, a SPECTRE outline arrives: Sony executives are mostly enthusiastic. There are multiple references to “love” this or “great hook” are among the responses.

“Love the idea that their is a mole in MI-6 and it turns out to be Tanner,” reads one of the reactions from the Sony camp.

Hard-core Bond fans — especially those who like Ian Fleming’s novels — might beg to differ. Bill Tanner, M’s chief of staff, was a friend to Bond in Fleming’s novels. In The Man With The Golden Gun book, Tanner asks M if he plans to bring charges against a brainwashed Bond for trying to kill him.

In the Golden Gun novel, when M informs Tanner he plans to send Bond on a suicide mission — to take out the novel’s title character — the chief of staff responds, “You coldhearted bastard!”

March 2014, first draft is delivered: There’s a more mixed reaction. Executives comment at events on various pages, while some visuals get praised.

Tanner is still a traitor. The villain, at this point, is an African, Joseph Ki-Embu, who uses a familiar Bond villain name as an alias. Felix Leiter, Bond’s CIA agent friend, also is in the mix.

May 2014: Amy Pascal, at the time one of Sony’s top movie executives, types up some reactions, including page-by-page notes.

Highlights: Bond is “rejected by two women by page 30.” Bond lets Tanner commit suicide on page 91. On page 122, Leiter calls Moneypenny a “foxy lady.”

Late June 2014: BAZ BAMIGBOYE OF THE DAILY MAIL reports that veteran 007 screenwriters Neal Purvis and Robert Wade have been brought back to rewrite the script by John Logan.

Jonathan Glickman, an executive of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which controls half of the 007 franchise, sends an e-mail to Sony executives. “Who spills the beans on this? P and W’s agents?” He’s also not happy with some John Cleese quotes in the Daily Mail story.

August 2014: There’s a debate because SPECTRE director “Sam Mendes is thinking about shooting 3 sequences in IMAX, a la (director Christopher) Nolan on Batman and Interstellar.” This will add $7 million to the movie’s budget. The same month, it’s decided that won’t happen. The three sequences will be shot “with full aperture, spherical lenses v. the rest of the pic which is anamorphic.”