James Bond Changes His Tune for SKYFALL

Sam Mendes gives 007 a new composer for the first time since 1997.

Bond fans are fetishists to the core. They obsess over every detail: what suits will Bond be wearing? (Tom Ford.) What watch will 007 sport? (Probably the Omega Planet Ocean, retail approximately $8000 US.) What brand shoes will he be rocking? (I have no goddamn idea.) With that kind of geeking out over the minutiae, you can imagine what bombshells actual news like cast and crew changes are in the world of Bond fandom.

And so the big news this week (courtesy of MI6) is that David Arnold, Bond's composer for the last 15 years, isn't returning for Skyfall.  Arnold (who originally won the gig on the basis of his well-received Shaken & Stirred, a collection of Bond themes worked over by contemporary singers) has scored every Bond film since 1997's Tomorrow Never Dies. While some soundtrack nerds were critical of Arnold's techno-influenced Brosnan-era scores, his work on Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace saw a move toward a more classic sound. (So much so that Arnold recorded a theme song for QoS with premier Bond chanteuse Shirley Bassey:

You can hear remnants of Arnold's QoS score in that song, which was rejected in favor of Jack White's and Alicia Keys' forgettable entry.)

So with the official story being Arnold is "unavailable" due to scoring the Olympics, director Sam Mendes has tapped longtime collaborator Thomas Newman to score Bond's 23rd canonical adventure. In addition to nearly all of Mendes' films, Newman has scored such disparate movies as Wall*E, Revenge of the Nerds, and The Help. I'm not a soundtrack guy, but on paper Newman seems skilled at adapting to any style, though he's yet to do a straight-up action score. Additionally, I have observed that my film score-geek pals think Newman's hiring is awesome, while my Bond loyalist buddies are apprehensive about this change. But they're always apprehensive about every single change, God bless 'em.

In other news, spy pics have surfaced of a rooftop scene in London, wherein Bond (shaven, still looking battered) is handed a box by Naomie Harris' character Eve - a box which (spoiler) many Bond nuts are certain contains M's ashes (gross). Those eagle-eyed fans are doubtlessly running that image through Google Goggles right at this moment in an attempt to identify the box's manufacturer.