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Bond 25: Inside the Search for Danny Boyle’s Replacement (EXCLUSIVE)

With the clock ticking on finding a replacement for director Danny Boyle before the 25th James Bond movie loses its release date, producers are moving fast to set meetings with prospective candidates.

Though sources stress that more meetings could be taken, MGM and Eon are showing interest in two new targets: “American Animals” helmer Bart Layton and S.J. Clarkson, who was recently tapped to direct the next “Star Trek” installment. Insiders also say “White Boy Rick” director Yann Demange, who was considered a strong contender before MGM and Eon eventually went to Boyle, is back in contention for the job.

Sit-down meetings are still being worked out for Layton and Clarkson, and the timetable for the meetings is currently unclear. The producers’ first meeting with Demange went well enough to land him high on the list of contenders, but at the time, “White Boy Rick” was unfinished and they were unable to see the movie. A screening will now be set for MGM and Eon officials to see Demange’s final product.

Outside of the director search, star Daniel Craig is keeping his options open during the hiatus. He’s attached himself to “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” director Rian Johnson’s next movie, which is being brought to buyers at the Toronto Film Festival with hopes of Craig shooting in November before filming starts on Bond. Sources stress that this project shouldn’t interfere with the production schedule of Bond 25.

As previously reported, MGM and Eon are on the clock to make the decision on who will replace Boyle if they want to keep the current production schedule on track. It was announced that Boyle was leaving the project over creative differences on Aug. 21.

Boyle had long been in MGM and Eon’s sights to direct a Bond movie, going back to 2012’s “Skyfall” and 2015’s “Spectre.” He agreed to sign on, but with two stipulations. The first was that he be allowed to finish directing his untitled Working Title comedy, which he would shoot in the summer of 2018, and the second was that he would be allowed to pen the script with his “Trainspotting” co-writer John Hodge.

The script seemed to be given the greenlight, but right as casting was about to begin for the new Bond girl and villain, Boyle parted ways over creative differences, and the search began for the new director.

As for the three directors being considered, Demange’s “White Boy Rick” opened to critical acclaim at the Telluride Film Festival. Layton fielded similar festival praise after “American Animals” screener earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival.

Clarkson is also a highly coveted filmmaker after landing “Star Trek 4,” becoming the first female director to helm a movie in the franchise. “Star Trek 4” is her first feature film after directing numerous TV episodes of shows including “Life on Mars.” If she lands Bond 25 film, it would also mark the same milestone in the 007 series.

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