BOND 25 Update:  Locations, Denials And Nyong’o No-Go

Your semi-regular Friday Bond news round-up.

The Bond 25 machine is getting into gear with principal photography expected to start in the next month, meaning details of locations are unavoidably making their way into the open as preparations are made.

Variety is reporting that the town of Matera in southern Italy, a Unesco World Heritage site previously used as the location for Mel Gibson’s Passion, will be playing host to a 500-strong crew as Bond 25 shoots its pre-title sequence, taking advantage of up to $22.7m in local tax credits.

This runs counter to a report from Baz Bamigboye that at least a part of that sequence is to be shot in Norway, where it’s already believed Bond 25 will receive a rebate toward its budget of up to $8.8m. It’s not clear if Bamigboye’s talking about the location north of Oslo where what appear to be sets are under construction in line with permit applications submitted by EON Productions’ local agent. Those documents also include details that look a lot like a spoiler which you can read at your own risk right here. It’s been speculated that this will form part of a flashback sequence (something as yet unseen in a Bond movie), but there are plenty of ways the story might fall in between these suggestions: perhaps the pre-title sequence could itself be a flashback?

Both Norway and Italy have made multiple appearances in the franchise, and Bamigboye reports that Bond 25 will be returning to familiar turf deeply interwoven in Bond lore: Jamaica. It was at his Goldeneye estate on Jamaica’s north coast that Ian Fleming wrote the Bond novels and short stories, and Bond fans still flock to the Goldeneye Resort, James Bond Beach and nearby Moonraker Bar. Taking Daniel Craig’s Bond swansong to the Caribbean would be a poignant demonstration of how much the franchise respects its roots, especially if, as Bamigboye relates, it’s a principal location.

Speaking of principals, it seems that Lupita Nyong’o will now not be appearing in Bond 25 after Deadline updated its story with a report that her people were saying “it won’t work out”, which may well be code for a scheduling clash. Meanwhile, there’s nothing new to report on Rami Malek’s negotiations for the role of Bond 25’s villain, but the episode lays bare the mechanics of casting and salary negotiations in Hollywood: remember how back in January Malek was issuing non-denials that he was in the running? Clearly this was a stalling tactic while awards season played out and once he had that little gold man in his hands talks started again in earnest, doubtless with a bigger price tag attached.

The current target of denials is Shatterhand being the movie’s actual title. Instagram user azirxphale met Bond producer Barbara Broccoli and asked her to sign a mocked-up Shatterhand logo, to which Broccoli added “It’s not” with a big arrow: when this was reposted by the official 007 account the whole was taken to be the next best thing to an official denial. It’s a great picture and a fun interaction, but at the same time it’s hard to forget that once upon a time Benedict Cumberbatch definitely wasn’t playing Kahn Noonien Singh in Star Trek Into Darkness and Christoph Waltz definitely wasn’t playing Ernst Stavro Blofeld in SPECTRE: these are just the games studios play to keep some secrets and surprises while attempting to control the narrative. To be clear, this isn’t an attempt to impugn any of the players, and even if Shatterhand ultimately turns out to be the title of Bond 25 azirxphale will still have a unique piece of Bond memorabilia and a cool story.

Lastly, it just wouldn’t be a Bond 25 update without a change of release date. The UK Film Distributors’ Association is now listing a release date of April 3rd, restoring the tradition of the UK seeing Bond movies before the rest of the world, even if only by 5 days. Seasoned watchers have concluded that the world premiere of Bond 25 will thus be on March 31st.

Over to you: looking forward to seeing Bond in familiar surroundings, or hoping to see some new horizons? Outraged at the UK getting the movie earlier? Got some way of squaring those pre-title concepts? Booking your flight to the UK to get that advanced screening action? Chime in below, but do please be respectful of others if you did choose to read that potential spoiler.

As of this writing, Bond 25 will be released in the UK on April 3rd 2020 and April 8th 2020 worldwide.