After the start of last week’s bidding war with five Hollywood studios, rumors are swirling that as producers Michael Wilson and Barbara Broccoli of Eon Productions (franchise co-owners with MGM) move closer to nailing down a creative direction for “Bond 25” with screenwriters Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, the Bond team is leaning indie with their list of potential directors.
Word is, the producers are so pleased with their Eon feature, “Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool,” directed by Scotsman Paul McGuigan (“Sherlock,” “Lucky Number Slevin,” “Victor Frankenstein”), that he too is under consideration. Annette Bening stars as actress Gloria Grahame, who falls in love with a young actor (Jamie Bell).
Broccoli has long preferred to hire directors with arthouse cred over mainstream action specialists, from Oscar-winning “American Beauty” director Sam Mendes (“Spectre” and “Skyfall”) to “Monster’s Ball” director Marc Forster (“Quantum of Solace”). Based on his tenure with the BBC One “Sherlock” series, and his handling of Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as Holmes and Watson, McGuigan would be a prime choice for a quirkier yet still compelling spin on Bond.
If Eon is considering directors, they’re moving closer to getting a commitment from co-producer Daniel Craig for his fifth and final Bond appearance — pending script and director approval. Could we see “Bond 25” as soon as 2018?
Last week, when Sony Pictures met with the Bond team they dressed up a soundstage to look like a replica of a “Dr. No” set. Also in the running are Warner Bros., Fox, Universal, and Megan Ellison’s very hot Annapurna.
Since Sony has co-financed and distributed the last four Bond films with Craig as its star, it would appear to have the inside track. The financial terms aren’t lucrative, but at nearly $3.5 billion box office, Bond has been very good to Sony. The last deal gave the studio 25 percent of the profits and a distribution fee in exchange for 50 percent of the production costs plus marketing.
Meanwhile, “Westworld” star Jeffrey Wright teased he might return as CIA chum Felix Leiter, who was absent from the last two movies, “Skyfall” and “Spectre.” And Dave Bautista (“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2”) said he would like to reprise his “Spectre” role as henchman Hinx, which also would necessitate the return of Christoph Waltz as Blofeld.
While Purvis and Wade are reportedly working on a script, we don’t know how far along they are. “Each time you’ve got to say something about Bond’s place in the world, which is Britain’s place in the world,” Purvis said when asked how they would place Bond in today’s surreal global nightmare of Trump, Putin, Brexit, and WikiLeaks. “But things are moving so quickly now, that becomes tricky. With people like Trump, the Bond villain has become a reality.”
Added Wade: “But for sure, ‘Spectre’ felt like it closed off a certain way of doing Bond. And I think whatever happens next will be quite different.”