BOND 25 Report: Eclipse! Camera! Action?

Finally, it looks like they're ready to roll.

As you read these words, the first Bond 25 footage may well have been captured, according to various reports and also the Norwegian weather forecast.

The good folks over at MI6 HQ reported last week that filming would be taking place between March 25th and April 2nd at the Norwegian location where set construction had already been observed, with airspace restrictions in place to allow for helicopters flying fast and low before all the ice and snow melts. MI6’s latest report had the crew, including director Cary Joji Fukunaga, flying out to Norway over the weekend, while The Daily Mail reported that Daniel Craig had also flown out to the “secret location” ready to start shooting on March 25th.

That Daily Mail report also discusses Craig’s fitness regimen while preparing to return to the part he first played nearly 14 years ago, suggesting that he’s been working out as much as 12 hours a day to recreate that Casino Royale beach scene physique. The idea of anyone spending half the day in the gym has been met with some skepticism, but Craig already looked like he was at fighting weight while presenting Best Supporting Actor at last month’s Academy Awards ceremony.

It was at that same ceremony Rami Malek took Best Actor, and it seems his Bond negotatiations have been concluded successfully, judging byan Instagram post by stunt performer Sebastien Soudais tagged from Pinewood Studios, which (before it was edited) heavily hinted that he would be doubling for Malek in Bond 25. Similarly, actor Billy Magnussen, previously reported by Variety to be in contention for Bond 25, has been dropping 007 hints and a video of him training in London on his own Instagram feed.

What all these folks are actually shooting still isn’t entirely clear. Ralph Fiennes, currently promoting his Rudolf Nureyev biopic The White Crow, told the BBC’s Newsnight, “I don’t know the name of the film, I haven’t had access to a screenplay yet,” prior to his return as M, while Ben Whishaw teased paywalled Sunday Times readers about a potential scene with Q’s cats (for the record, I am totally into this idea). The Playlist, which first broke script doctor Scott Z. Burns’ attachment to the project, further reports that he turned in his script as scheduled, but suggests it still needs further work.

It’s becoming apparent that this script has nothing to do with whatever Danny Boyle and John Hodge brought to the table. Boyle broke his silence on Bond 25 in an interview with the current issue of Empire magazine, in which he characterised their parting of ways with EON Productions as “a great shame”. Boyle broadly described those artistic differences by saying “We were working very, very well, but they didn’t want to go down that route with us,” and relates he learned a lot about himself in the process. Whatever that route was, the split seems very amicable, but the lesson remains that the Bond franchise really isn’t an auteur’s playground: it’s EON’s toy box and you play by their rules.

Those rules at the moment seem to include extreme secrecy, extending as far as the actual title of the movie. Following last month’s feverish Shatterhand speculation, this month the Bond 25 Title Roulette ball has landed on Eclipse. There doesn’t seem to be any hard evidence one way or another for this as a working or final title, but a quick web search for “James Bond Eclipse” yields a French short film which EON Productions hasn’t deemed worth getting taken down while “Eclipse movie” takes the intrepid searcher directly to the third installment in Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight franchise. That seems like quite a lot of entrenched fanbase, cultural impact and search engine optimisation to overcome rather than just coming up with a unique title.

Everything should become clear soon enough: word on the street is that the traditional Bond press conference will take place at Pinewood Studios around April 1st (although the 2nd would probably be a better call, just to keep the Internet comedians quiet), and at that event we should get at least a title and a full cast, and maybe even some kind of synopsis. Whatever emerges, we’ll be sure to keep you up to date.

Over to you: as we near the finish line of this epic Bond pre-production phase, has fatigue set in or are you excited to see what EON’s been cooking? Got some more entries for that Title Roulette? Critiques of the Eclipse short to offer? Chime in below.

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