Bond 23 to have tighter budget, The Sun says

The Sun, the U.K. tabloid newspaper, says Bond 23 will be made on a tighter budget than previous entries in the series.

The story (which you can read BY CLICKING HERE) leads off by saying Daniel Craig will grow a beard for the movie. But this passage caught our eye:

The film is going to be made on a shoestring budget in comparison to the last few.

A source said: “They’ve really scaled back.

“The lavish production and locations have been cut.

“There is only a reduced cast and crew travelling to the few overseas destinations.”

The Sun gets no more specific than that, nor describes how the source came across the information. The paper also doesn’t provide a specific budget figure. (It also has a plot spoiler if you care to read the story).

This is the second report (at least indirectly) referring to a smaller budget for Bond 23. The Times of India, IN A STORY IN AUGUST said Bond 23’s budget was $135 million. That newspaper didn’t specify how it got that figure, not even attributing it to a source, just stating the number.

Quantum of Solace had a budget of $230 million, according to The Web site. As we’ve noted before, a reduced Bond 23 budget would make sense. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which controls half the 007 franchise, reorganized itself in bankruptcy court. Sony Corp., whose Columbia Pictures will distribute Bond 23, is having its own financial tough times. It’s up to MGM and Sony to finance Bond 23 and the world is a lot different in 2011 than it was in 2008.

UPDATE: The $135 million figure may have originated with a story in the Sunday Times of London earlier this year. You can read a version that ran on The Australian’s Web site by CLICKING HERE. That story said MGM and Sony intended to raise $45 million, or one-third of Bond 23’s production budget, through product placement deals.

Simple math — 45 multiplied by 3 — gives you $135 million.

Is Bond 23’s budget almost $100 million less than QoS?

News on the Bond 23 front heated up recent with reports out of India that the new 007 is trying to set up filming a train sequence in that country. It was reported that the movie was encountering delays getting permission to shoot but may be making progress again. But there was one other tidbit that caught our eye. The Times of India in reporting about the planned train sequence, said Bond 23’s budget is $135 million.

If so, Bond 23’s budget is much smaller — almost $100 million — than Quantum of Solace’s reported $230 million outlay and about the same as the budget for 1999’s The World Is Not Enough, according to the Web site. It wasn’t until 1995’s GoldenEye than a Bond film budget even exceeded $100 million.

A big caveat: The Times of India doesn’t say *how* it got the $135 million. It simply asserts it as a fact, with the same certainty that the sun will rise in the east. Still, there reasons why 007 may have to economize this time out. The world economy is shaky. Walt Disney Co. recently called off a planned $250 million Lone Ranger movie to star Johnny Depp as Tonto. Hollywood in general is looking closer at spending.

More specific to Bond 23, the third Daniel Craig 007 film: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc., which controls half the 007 franchise, had a quick trip into bankruptcy; it’s out of bankruptcy but hardly has the deepest pockets in Hollywood. That’s one reason why Columbia Pictures will actually release Bond 23. Meanwhile, Sony Corp., Columbia’s parent company, is having its own financial difficulties. That means Columbia has even more reason to limit the size of the checks it writes compared with 2008, when it evidently cut some big ones for Quantum of Solace.

It remains to be seen how accurate the $135 million figures is for Bond 23. It does, however, make sense its budget would be a lot less than Quantum’s. Who knows? Maybe Bond will have to fly coach.