×

Bond in battle royale

007 team mulls major shakeup in franchise

With the announcement last week that Paul Haggis will write the next James Bond film, the question arises: What film?

Eon Prods. — along with producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson — and MGM/UA have been touting an imminent start for “Casino Royale” since 2004.

But with the new scribe starting over, it’s dubious how realistic evenNovember 2006 is.

And the bigger questions: Whether Bond will stay the same or head in a new direction — and what influence a new studio (Sony) will have on the venerable franchise. The original “Casino” was a spoof on Bond, unlike the new version.

The vitality of actioners like Universal’s two “Bourne” films as well as the mockery of pics like “Austin Powers,” are forcing the Bond group to mull a rethinking of the format. One possible scenario would borrow from “Batman Begins,” by going back to Bond’s origins.

“Casino Royale” is meant to be far more than an update of Bond; it’s the revelation of the ur Bond — one going on his first mission, without any baggage.

Popular on Variety

Haggis’ rewrite is expected in a few months time, and Martin Campbell is firmed as director. But that tight production schedule brings up the question of casting.

Speculation on the Internet and British press has centered on sexy, charismatic leading men like Gerard Butler, Hugh Jackman, Daniel Craig and Julian McMahon.

But others suggest it will be a black Bond, played by Colin Salmon! Or it will be a downy-cheeked Bond, played by 22-year-old Henry Cavill! Or a fresh-from-TV Slavic Bond, played by “ER” star Gorin Visnjic!

A nasty bridge-burning spat with the previous 007, Pierce Brosnan, became public last month, with the thesp telling Entertainment Weekly he was dumped from the role and that he was glad to be free of its “cheesy” jokes.

Brosnan apparently had been seeking $25 million plus 5% of the gross, as well as certain bonuses — demands that led to the Broccolis’ rethinking of the role and the franchise.

The Broccolis’ restrictions on compensation are turning off some stars (no gross points, thank you) and the three-pic commitment has young thesps a little edgy. (Playing Commander Bond hardly guarantees a launch into stardom, viz George Lazenby.)

And then there’s the question of a new studio.

Aside from “Spider-Man,” Sony hasn’t had much luck with sequels lately (“Bad Boys 2,” “Stuart Little 2,” “Charlie’s Angels 2,” “XXX: State of the Union”). It would love a new franchise.

The Broccolis are famously protective and cautious about Bond, but Sony execs are sure to have their own ideas about the series. Haggis is a bold choice, given his “Million Dollar Baby” adaptation and original “Crash” (which he also directed). But how bold do the Broccolis want to get?

More Film

  • "Last Film Show"

    Berlin: Orange Studio Launches 'The Last Film Show,' 'Old Fashioned, 'Love Song For Tough Guys' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Under the new leadership of industry veteran Kristina Zimmermann, Orange Studio, the film/TV division of the French telco group Orange, is launching three new projects at Berlin’s European Film Market: “Last Film Show,” “Old Fashioned” and “Love Song for Tough Guys.” Directed by Pan Nalin (“Samsara”), “Last Film Show” follows Samay, a 9-year-old boy living [...]

  • Bootlegger

    Best Friend Forever Acquires Cannes' Cinefondation Prizewinning 'Bootlegger' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Brussels-based company Best Friend Forever has acquired international sales rights to Caroline Monnet’s feature debut “Bootlegger” which won best screenplay at Cannes’ Cinefondation in 2017. A well-known contemporary artist, Monnet has shed light on Indigenous identity and has debunked stereotypes through her works, which have been shown at the Whitney Biennial in New York, Palais [...]

  • Greed

    'Greed': Film Review

    I’ve got this friend who makes his own clothes. Not the generic kind cut from dowdy prairie-dress patterns, but chic, design-it-yourself garments that look better than most anything you’d find on a ready-to-wear rack. I figure he’s the only person I know who’s not guilty of contributing to the kind of sweatshop misery writer-director Michael [...]

  • Rumba

    Gaumont Reteams With Franck Dubosc on 'Rumba Therapy' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Gaumont is reteaming with actor-turned-director Franck Dubosc on another comedy: “Rumba Therapy” follows his hit 2018 pic “Rolling to You,” which was one of the highest-grossing films in France and abroad. “Rumba Therapy” stars Dubosc as a man in his 50s who lives alone after having abandoned his wife and baby decades earlier. He sets [...]

  • WestEnd Boards 'The Score,' Starring Johnny

    WestEnd Boards Heist Musical 'The Score,' Starring Johnny Flynn, Will Poulter, Naomi Ackie (EXCLUSIVE)

    World sales agency WestEnd Films has boarded “The Score,” a heist musical starring Johnny Flynn (“Emma,” “Stardust”), Will Poulter (“The Revenant”), Naomi Ackie (“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”) and Antonia Thomas (Netflix’s “Lovesick”), from one of the producers of Beatles music themed hit “Yesterday,” which grossed $154 million worldwide. “The Score” combines a heist [...]

  • There is no Evil

    Iran's Mohammad Rasoulof on His 'There is no Evil' As 'Resistance,' Exclusive Trailer

    Iranian auteur Mohammad Rasoulof, whose sixth feature “There is no Evil” screens in competition at the Berlinale, is one of his country’s most prominent directors even though none of his films have screened in Iran where they are banned. In 2011, the year he won two prizes at Cannes with his censorship-themed “Goodbye,” Rasoulof was sentenced [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content