As Bond 25 gears up it seems there’s a push going on to maximise the value of the franchise in terms of merchandising and tourist attractions, and as this happens some details of the forthcoming movie have been sneaking out.
Today’s big official news was the launch at 10:07 AM in London of the first official LEGO 007 tie-in, a Creator Expert set recreating Bond’s iconic Aston Martin DB5 in plastic brick form complete with meticulous recreations of the gadgets familiar from Goldfinger. I swung by LEGO’s Leicester Square location, decked out with 007 graphics and a display of the DB5 miniatures used in Skyfall, around an hour later to find there was still a line over a hundred deep to get into the store, and roaring trade going on within. Arguably LEGO blocks aren’t the ideal medium in which to recreate the sensuous hand-crafted curves of the DB5’s bodywork, but the set’s undeniably impressive and has both the Bond and LEGO collector bases covered, maybe paving the way for Bond to show up in next February’s The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part. After two weeks of exclusive availability to VIP members of the LEGO loyalty scheme, the DB5 set will be available for general purchase for $149.99 In the US.
That price varies according to country, but doesn't quite reach the UK £1.9m (that’s US $2.5m) the Aston Martin DB5 driven by Pierce Brosnan in Goldeneye was sold for last weekend in Bonham’s auction at the Goodwood Festival Of Speed, the summer party for petrolheads hosted by the Duke of Richmond at his country estate for the last 25 years. It doesn’t have any of the gadgets, making it maybe a worse value proposition than the LEGO version, but the car’s buyer was later revealed to be the Spyscape museum in Hell’s Kitchen, New York, who will be running a competition whose lucky winners will fulfil those Bond fantasies by actually driving the car.
Meanwhile at Sölden in Austria, the location used for SPECTRE’s Hoffler Klinik has been transformed into a “James Bond Cinematic Experience” dubbed 007 Elements under the eye of Neal Callow, art director of the four Daniel Craig Bond movies to date. Through nine interactive galleries, the exhibit takes visitors through the elements of a Bond movie using memorabilia from the EON archives, and Miss Moneypenny herself, Naomie Harris, was on hand to cut the ribbon.
Here’s where we get to the Bond 25 news: during this opening event, Callow apparently let slip that frequent Danny Boyle collaborator Mark Tildesley will be production designer on the new movie. Given Bond 25’s compressed schedule, it’s reasonable that Boyle would bring on people he knows and trusts, and doing so is but one way in which he can really put his stamp on the franchise. At the same time, he’s not operating some scorched-earth policy: long-time Bond special effects supervisor Chris Corbould told the Daily Express that he’ll be returning, and, direct quote, “It’s going to be very, very special.” This is a man who’s been with the Bond franchise since The Spy Who Loved Me and has also delivered stunning effects for Christopher Nolan, so presumably he has a pretty high bar for “special” and likes what he’s seen in John Hodge’s script.
Which brings us to some indications of what’s actually in that script: the good folks at MI6 report that a casting call has gone out identifying three key roles: a 30-60 year old Russian male lead; a female lead playing a 30-45 year old female Russian lead with physical and stage fighting skills; a 35-55 year old Maori male support also with physical and stage fighting skills. At first blush this is an intriguing grab-bag of ideas from various points in the franchise, and it’s not a huge reach to presume the two Russians will be in a villain/henchwoman setup reaching way back to the beginning of the series and SMERSH. This would also fit the franchise’s repeated refrain of plucking an idea from the headlines and running with it, something that becomes even weightier in the current political climate, even if it’s at odds with some of the other rumours we’ve been hearing.
Will Bond 25 see 007 going up against fake news? Perhaps some kompromat, bearing in mind that the actual plot of From Russia With Love revolves around Russian spies obtaining kompromat on Bond in order to undermine Western intelligence? And does that Maori casting requirement signify anything more than an unexpected homage to Die Another Day’s Mr. Kil? Or is this all some counterintelligence operation designed to throw us off the scent? Chime in below with your thoughts, speculation and the dastardly schemes you’ll be using to find the money for that LEGO Aston Martin.