As the dust settles on the announcement of Danny Boyle’s departure from what must now be seen as the troubled production of Bond 25, there’s a lot of tea-leaf reading, damage control and wild speculation just about everywhere you look.
There are the details of the announcement itself: a terse tweet with Daniel Craig’s name very prominent. This reflects his position within the franchise (he was a co-producer on SPECTRE) while reinforcing his commitment to the movie in whatever form it now takes. There’s no mention of John Hodge, leaving open the question of whether his script will still be used, reworked, or tossed altogether in favour of either the already-completed script by longtime Bond writers Neal Purvis and Robert Wade or something completely new.
This, in turn, opens the question of whether the production will have to be pushed back from its slated December shooting date, which would impact the November 2019 release date and even Daniel Craig’s availability (leading to him walking from the franchise altogether, his legacy ending on a sour, unfinished note). Speaking of which, Idris Elba definitively ruled himself out of the running to replace Craig at the premiere of his directorial debut Yardie, so knock that off.
While we’ve been told only that “creative differences” led to Boyle walking, there’s a narrative emerging that this was fuelled by Boyle bringing in his own creative team, as we’ve previously reported. Now we have a report from The Telegraph that the disagreement centered on positioning the current global political situation as a modern Cold War for Bond to navigate, along with Boyle’s preference for casting Tomasz Kot, star of Paweł Pawlikowski’s Cold War. This all ties in with the casting call we previously reported, and earlier today Kot’s agent confirmed (that’s a Polish page: hat-tip to @JB007_news) that he’d at least talked with Boyle about a role in the movie. Allegedly, Craig - who exerts a great deal of control over the casting - was unhappy with this choice, leading to his falling-out with Boyle and the latter’s defenestration.
So what happens next?
Presumably the first step is for EON Productions to sign on a new director, then figure out the script situation and then figure out the production logistics. Various names are being kicked around, ranging from the usual, certain-to-never-happen suspects (Christopher Nolan, Steven Soderbergh, Christopher McQuarrie, Quentin Tarantino) to the left-field (Tom Ford, Ben Wheatley, Denis Villeneuve) and the perfectly adequate (Joe Wright, Jaume Collet-Serra, Martin Campbell, Ron Howard). It’s probably pointless to speculate at this point, but whoever does take the reins is now going to have a pretty good idea of how much creative freedom they’ll have, which may prove to lessen the gig’s appeal, particularly if it comes with the pressure to adhere to the established schedule.
Ultimately, it’s a mess. When Bond movies are rushed through compressed production schedules without a strong script we get Tomorrow Never Dies and Quantum Of Solace, whereas the whole rationale of the Boyle/Hodge collaboration was a script driven by a strong story idea. While we’ll get a trickle of hints and allegations throughout the Bond 25 cycle, we may never know exactly what went wrong, although it’s undoubtedly going to form a key chapter in some Bond historian’s book covering the Craig years.
As it stands, the promotional image you see above (which continues the relationship between Bond and Omega watches) feels less like the exciting teaser it was just hours before the Boyle announcement and more like a visual metaphor for a franchise drowning under existential indecision.
Over to you: we’ve all had some time to digest Boyle’s departure, so where are you on the cycle of Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance? Got some genius suggestions for directors? We’re here for you, so chime in below.