Variety says Bond 25 to begin filming at end of April

Daniel Craig in Skyfall.

Bond 25 is scheduled to begin filming at the end of this month, Variety said in a story today.

The Variety article primarily concerned the hiring of Phoebe Waller-Bridge as the newest writer on the film.

Variety said it confirmed Waller-Bridge’s involvement with the production. It also had this passage:

A source with knowledge of the situation confirmed that the British writer was indeed taking a pass through the script and that director Cary Fukunaga was fully aware of the decision. The source said production remained on track to begin at the end of April.

A sequence was filmed in Norway last month, but that apparently was done by the second unit without primary cast members. Fukunaga has been photographed in Italy last week scouting locations.

So far at least six writers have performed Bond 25 work. Besides Waller-Bridge, they are Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, John Hodge, Paul Haggis and Scott Z. Burns. Director Fukunaga also has been known to write scripts so it’s possible the actual total is at least seven.

Why Bond 25 may not economize much

Daniel Craig in Skyfall

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.

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.

MGM looks to expand film-based consumer products

MGM’s Leo the Lion logo

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer wants to expand consumer products based on its films, including James Bond, Variety reported.

The home studio of the 007 film series hired Robert Marick as executive vice president of global consumer products and experiences, the entertainment news outlet said. Marick has worked at various studios prior to joining MGM.

Marick will supervise “expansion of MGM’s traditional merchandise, interactive and consumer products business,” Variety said. Besides Bond, the executive will deal with film franchises and TV series such as The Handmaid’s Tale, The Pink Panther and Legally Blonde.

In recent years, Bond-related merchandise has been mostly high-end, such as a Lego Aston Martin DB5 and replica DB5s made by Aston that cost 2.75 million British pounds each and aren’t street legal.

The 007 series was once an active generator of video games but that’s fallen off. In the 1960s, Bond-related merchandise included lunch boxes, puzzles, liquor and clothing. The official Eon James Bond site has a section that includes various goods.

About those Bond 25 script stories: The Rashomon Effect?

Can’t keep all these writing scenarios straight? Relax with a drink.

In the space of days, we’ve gotten two wildly different scenarios about the progress of Bond 25’s script.

The Playlist, in a Feb. 16 story, said noted script doctor Scott Z. Burns was doing an “overhaul” of Bond 25’s screenplay. “Burns, like Tony Gilroy and Christopher McQuarrie, is known as one of the top emergency rescue script doctors in Hollywood. If your script is hemorrhaging, he’s one of the first people you call.”

Later, on Feb. 27, Variety did an imitation of Kevin Bacon in Animal house and reassured everyone all is well.

Bond 25 director Cary “Fukunaga turned in his recent draft at the beginning of the year, and while reports surfaced that major rewrite work was done to the script, sources say no significant changes were made,” according to Variety, “and the producers and (star Daniel) Craig were excited with what Fukunaga had delivered.”

This might be an example of what’s known as The Rashomon Effect. That’s defined as “a phenomenon where different people have contradictory accounts of the same event.”

Rashomon was a 1950 movie directed by Akira Kurosawa where the characters have wildly different memories and impressions of the same story. The film was quite influential. In the 1960s, a plot on some television situation comedies in the U.S. was to depict the very different recollections of characters of the same occurrence.

Maybe, just maybe, The Playlist and Variety have different sources with different outlooks on the progress of the Bond 25 story. Both sources cited “sources” they didn’t identify.

The Playlist played up Burns’ record as a script doctor. “It’s an overhaul and I won’t be surprised if Burns is ultimately given first screenplay credit,” wrote The Playlist’s Rodrigo Perez.

Variety’s Justin Kroll specifically said Fukunaga had a turn writing the script himself. Fukunaga often writes his own scripts. There’s been plenty of fan speculation this would take place with Bond 25. Variety was the first place I saw that said that had happened. The Variety story doesn’t mention Burns by name.

Scripting efforts on Bond 25 began when 007 veterans Neal Purvis and Robert Wade were hired in 2017. There was a detour last year when Danny Boyle was hired to direct the movie, bringing along his writer, John Hodge. Boyle and Hodge departed.

So now we’re where we’re at — where ever that is. Maybe it’s time for a drink to relax after trying to evaluate the different scenarios.

Reports heat up saying Malek will play B25’s villain

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Just days after picking up an Oscar, Rami Malek is again the focus of stories saying he’ll play the villain in Bond 25.

Variety weighed in with a story saying Billy Magnussen is the top choice to play a CIA agent role while there’s “renewed interest” in Malek as the villain.

Not to be outdone, Collider published a story saying Rami Malek is in final talks to play Bond 25’s villain. It cites “well-placed sources” as the basis of its information. Colllder also says Malek’s representatives have negotiated so the now-Oscar winning actor can do both Bond 25 and a new season of Mr. Robot.

Malek won the best actor Oscar on Sunday for his work on the film Bohemian Rhapsody. He has previously been mentioned in reports as a contender to play the villain’s role.

Each story has additional Bond 25 tidbits.

Variety also said director Cary Fukunaga “turned in” a script draft around the start of 2019. “(W)hile reports surfaced that major rewrite work was done to the script, sources say no significant changes were made, and the producers and Craig were excited with what Fukunaga had delivered.”

The story contained no mention of scribes Neal Purvis, Robert Wade or Scott Z. Burns. The Playlist reported earlier this month that Burns was doing a significant rewrite and was working out of London for four weeks. Purvis and Wade originally were hired in 2017 to work on Bond 25.

“There aren’t really any character details available, though the villain has been rumored to be a blind man,” according to the Collider story about Malek.”

No word whether that rumor stems from the discredited (or at least seemingly discredited) 2017 report in the Mirror that Bond 25 was somehow based on a Raymond Benson James Bond continuation novel. One of Benson’s 007 stories featured a blind villain. The author has said on social media he was never contacted by the Mirror and assumed the 2017 story was a fabrication.

The Collider story references Scott Z. Burns as a writer, but no has mention of Purvis and Wade.

Oscars do Emily Litella impression: ‘Never mind!’

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences may have pulled an Emily Litella. “Never mind!”

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has retreated from a plan of awarding four Oscars during commercial breaks, according to reports from Variety, The Hollywood Reporter and Deadline: Hollywood.

As Emily Litella (a 1970s reference you can find on Google) might say, “Never mind!”

Originally, the academy planned that Oscars for cinematography, editing, live action short and makeup and hairstyling be given out during commercials, with edited versions being shown later.

This didn’t go over well from academy members of the affected categories, especially cinematography and editing, two crucial parts of movie making.

Had the rule been in effect last year, the broadcast would haven’t included live coverage of director of photography Roger Deakins finally winning after after a long string of nominations. One of Deakins’ nominations was for the 2012 007 film Skyfall, and many Bond fans were pulling for him to finally win in 2018.

Here’s an excerpt from The Hollywood Reporter story:

In a statement on Friday afternoon, the Academy stated that it “has heard the feedback from its membership regarding the Oscar presentation of four awards – Cinematography, Film Editing, Live Action Short, and Makeup and Hairstyling.” The statement continued: “All Academy Awards will be presented without edits, in our traditional format. We look forward to Oscar Sunday, February 24.”

The move came just nine days before this year’s Oscar telecast. The academy and ABC, which airs the awards show, have been trying to keep the program to three hours.

UPDATE (9:40 p.m., New York time): The statement is on the academy’s website.

Scribes analyze Fukunaga’s prospects for directing Bond 25

Cary Joji Fukunaga, Bond 25’s new director

The naming of Cary Joji Fukunaga as the new director for Bond 25 quickly spurred entertainment writers and other scribes to analyze how he’ll perform.

Essentially, several were excited by what Fukunaga will bring to the production. Others were more cautious, Fukunaga, who has a reputation as an auteur director, is replacing Danny Boyle, another auteur who departed over unspecified “creative differences.”

ERIC KOHN, INDIEWIRE: “Fukunaga has never made an obvious blockbuster, but he’s been steadily flexing the muscles required for a brainy action-adventure over the course of a trailblazing decade-long career…With those two features (Sin Nombre and Jane Eyre) alone, the filmmaker had already shown his capacity to juggle the unique formula that has sustained the Bond franchise across 65 years: tough, visceral action against diverse backdrops, balanced off with sleek romanticism.”

MORGAN JEFFERY, DIGITAL SPY: “If Fukunaga is anything, he’s a director who always has a very specific vision. So given that Boyle is confirmed to have quit Bond over ‘creative differences’, is it a risk to hire another auteur type?…For better or for worse, the Bond films already have their own style, their own formula, and don’t really suit idiosyncratic filmmakers…Cary Fukunaga is a great director, but helming a Bond film and working within that rigid framework is a very singular task. For all Fukunaga’s impressive qualities as a filmmaker, it’s no sure thing that he’ll be able to pull it off.”

OWEN GLEIBERMAN, VARIETY: “(T)he reason Cary Fukunaga has the potential to be an ideal filmmaker for the Bond series is all over his direction of ‘True Detective.’ Simply put, he has a depth-charge understanding of men…and women. And that, as much as anything, is what the James Bond series now needs to be about.”

ALISSA WILKINSON, VOX: “Fukunaga has spent much of his life moving between cultures and absorbing them. His father, a third-generation Japanese American, was born in an internment camp in the US during World War II; his mother is Swedish-American. His parents split when he was a child, after which his father married an Argentinian woman and his mother married a Mexican-American man. Fukunaga is fluent in French as well as Spanish, the latter of which he learned during summers in Mexico with his mother and stepfather.”

GEOFFREY MACNAB, THE INDEPENDENT: “Fukunaga seems a very clever pick on two different levels. He has a strong creative reputation – he is an auteur whose latest series Maniac is said to be genre-breaking and mind-bending – but he also knows how to play the game. He can work with big paymasters like HBO and Netflix….The next Bond will be the first one since the rise of the #MeToo movement and the Harvey Weinstein scandal. Fukunaga’s films, whether Sin Nombre or Jane Eyre, have often had very strong women characters. He’ll strain out any of the sexism that might have crept into the Bond series in the past.”