Well, he had a good run but longtime James Bond composer David Arnold, who has scored every 007 outing since 1997’s “Tomorrow Never Dies,” is being switched out for this year’s “Skyfall,” according to James Bond news site MI-6. Director Sam Mendes has swapped him for his longtime collaborator Thomas Newman, who has scored all of Mendes’ films except 2009’s regrettable “Away We Go.”
While this might not seem like a big deal, it is, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, Arnold has done much to develop the “sound” of the new Bond series, bridging the more whimsical Pierce Brosnan films with the grittier Daniel Craig entries through percussive, thrilling music. In fact, original James Bond composer John Barry, who composed fifteen silky scores for the super-spy (and created the iconic 007 theme), doing as much to cement the character in popular culture as Sean Connery or Ian Fleming, recommended Arnold to franchise producer Barbara Broccoli after Arnold did a 007/Barry tribute album. In short: Arnold has a musical authorship on the franchise for more than a decade. That’s nothing to scoff at (before Arnold came on board, Eric Serra handled duties on Martin Campbell‘s Pierce Brosnan debut “GoldenEye“).
The other thing to think about here is that, while Mendes is an inspired choice to do a Bond film, the films haven’t exactly been known for an abundance of directorial personality, thanks mostly to the Broccolis tight grip on the property. The fact that Mendes got away with swapping out the film’s composer is promising, and seems to suggest that he has more artistic control over the project than some other, more anonymous filmmakers. Thomas Newman isn’t exactly a dicey choice, he’s been nominated for ten Academy Awards and scored everything from “The Green Mile” to “WALL-E,” it’s still a move away from the status quo. While it’s too early to suggest a completely personal James Bond movie, it does, along with the outstanding cast (including Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Albert Finney, Naomie Harris and Ben Whishaw) and technical team (like cinematographer Roger Deakins and writer John Logan), give us one more reason to get really jazzed about this new James Bond joint. We can’t wait to hear the secret agent’s new sound.