The next James Bond movie didn’t just lose a director when Danny Boyle left over creative differences. It may have also forfeited a release date.
Word around town is that it’s back to the drawing board for the creators of the new 007 adventure after Boyle and his co-writer, John Hodge, delivered a draft of the script that didn’t meet the approval of producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, as well as star Daniel Craig. After Boyle exited, MGM and Eon, the film’s backers, sent out the word that they are looking for a writer or a writer-director to come on to the film, according to insiders.
The companies are not simply eyeing a director for hire, which signals that a major rewrite will have to be undertaken. It is also telling that the producers seem more eager to find a screenwriter than a person willing to slide behind the camera. That has many believing that the Boyle script will be scrapped. It may also be a sign that Broccoli and Craig aren’t interested in returning to an earlier draft that was submitted by Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, the team behind “Skyfall.”
MGM declined to comment.
Filming on the project, known colloquially as Bond 25, was originally supposed to begin on Dec. 8, with some of the shooting expected to take place at Pinewood Studios in the U.K. Other far-flung locales, a staple of the espionage series, had yet to be announced. However, the need for a new script makes that start date difficult to achieve, according to rival studio executives. Bond films are notoriously complex productions, involving pricey set pieces that are often shot in exotic destinations. They require a rigorous pre-production process that takes months. Any delay in filming could have a domino effect because locations that have been scouted and secured could fall out of place, wrecking havoc on the rigidly controlled shooting schedule. In order to hit Bond 25’s Nov. 9, 2019, release date, rival executives say that MGM and Eon must be in production no later than January. Since 1995’s “Goldeneye,” every Bond film has bowed in winter, but it is possible that the backers of the sequel could opt to slide it into the summer of 2020 or wait a full year.
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.” After Craig officially signed on, coming back for a payday believed to be in the $25 million range and an enviable amount of creative control, the actor made a push for Boyle to direct the next installment in the series. David Mackenzie (“Hell or High Water”), Denis Villeneuve (“Arrival”), and Yann Demange (“White Boy Rick”) were in contention for the job at the time, but Craig was curious if Boyle had any interest after the pair worked together on a Bond-style commercial promoting the 2012 Olympic Summer Games in London.
Boyle 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 Hodge. Craig and the producers quickly agreed to the terms and it was soon announced that Boyle would be directing the film with MGM and Annapurna distributing domestically with Universal handling international rights.
With Boyle out, it is possible that MGM and Eon could return to the other frontrunners for the directing gig, but some of their schedules are full. Villeneuve, for instance, is working on a remake of “Dune” and Mackenzie is in pre-production on the TV series “Gemstone.” Because MGM and Eon have said they want a writer and director, there are mutterings that the companies could turn to Christopher McQuarrie. The Oscar-winner showed a flair for globe-trotting action with “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” and last summer’s “Mission: Impossible – Fallout.” However, McQuarrie has also indicated he’d like to do an original film and to avoid franchise fare for his next effort.
While the production and release date may be moving, one thing is for certain, and that is that Craig won’t be hanging up Bond’s signature Walther PPK anytime soon. When the announcement was made on the official 007 Twitter handle that Boyle would be leaving, the statement was not only attributed to Broccoli and Wilson. Craig, who has been a producer on the franchise since “Spectre,” also provided a quote.
In the Bond universe, it appears that it’s Craig who is the straw who stirs the drink, or, this being 007, shakes the martinis.