Unless you’ve been deep undercover, underwater, with a duck on your head, you’ll know by now that Danny Boyle has left Bond 25, with the film’s producers citing “creative differences”.
Ah, ‘creative differences’ – that catch-all term for any sort of disagreement on a project. It’s been used on everything from Ed Norton not being in Avengers Assemble, to Phil Lord & Chris Miller leaving Solo.
What’s unusual in this case, is that the statement included Daniel Craig’s name… perhaps suggesting that he personally wasn’t a fan of Boyle’s planned approach? But what could those creative differences entail?
We’ve poured ourselves a vodka martini (speculation, not facts) to see if we can solve this mystery. Now, pay attention 007…
Why Danny Boyle might’ve exited Bond 25
Back in March this year, Danny Boyle was confirmed as being in talks for the next Bond film, and discussed his approach to the project.
“We’ve got an idea, John Hodge, the screenwriter, and I have got this idea,” Boyle explained at a Q&A for his new TV series Trust in New York. “John is writing it at the moment. And it all depends on how it turns out. It would be foolish of me to give any of it away.”
At the time, it was reported that Hodge’s script would be competing with Bond regulars Neal Purvis and Robert Wade’s take – their 007 credits include Skyfall, Spectre, and Casino Royale – who have been developing a story since Spectre‘s 2015 release.
Given what’s happened since, we wouldn’t be surprised if an announcement confirming Purvis and Wade as Bond 25’s screenwriters landed in the next month or so – along with confirmation of Boyle’s replacement. If not, the film will have to be pushed back (which could actually be sensible, 2019 has a lot of franchise films scheduled.)
But what was the ‘big idea’ at the heart of Boyle and Hodge’s rejected premise?
Some are speculating that Boyle wanted to kill off Bond – which is a possibility. It’s Craig’s last go at 007, and the death of 007 would fit with the more gritty and (semi-)realistic style of Craig’s era.
Boyle likes closed narratives – no post-credit scenes for this director – and Bond’s demise would be the ultimate ending for a story that’s been told pretty much continuously since Casino Royale.
Still, it’s a massive risk – would Craig want to be remembered as the only Bond who met a sticky end? Would franchise overlords Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson trust audiences to understand that another reboot is around the corner, and that Bond would be back bigger than ever?
Of course, Boyle’s creative difference could have been his entire approach, not just the story. The director prefers to work with low-budgets, and that’s put him off signing up for Bond before. “They’re not really for me,” he once said. “The budgets are too big. I’m better working at a lower level of money really because I like that discipline of not having enough money to pull off whatever it is you want to pull off. So I wouldn’t be the best person to do those.”
Did he suddenly realise his original instincts were correct, and tried to pitch a simpler take on Bond’s usually epic adventures? Great for Boyle, but maybe not for the Broccoli clan, who very much like to stick to the age-old rule; ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, and if it breaks, reboot it.’
Craig’s most successful outing is still Skyfall, which is arguably the most grandiose Bond film of the modern era – and it’s pretty much the opposite of everything Boyle is as a filmmaker.
While some might’ve been looking forward to a Bond film with handheld camerawork, surreal cinematography, magic realist plotting, and a banging Britpop soundtrack, it may be for the best that he’s stepped away from the franchise.
Boyle can focus on the post-production of his Richard Curtis musical and the Bond team can find someone else to do the job. A less awkward fit, perhaps.
Who could replace Danny Boyle as Bond 25 director?
Earlier this year, the shortlist for Bond 25 included ‘71 helmer Yann Demange, Blade Runner 2049 helmer Denis Villeneuve and Hell or High Water director David Mackenzie – you can strike pretty much all of them off the new list.
That’s because, with time running short, the next Bond – now, more than ever – needs a safe pair of hands. Losing one director is careless, losing two would be disastrous. So, expect the next director to be someone who’s done Bond before. (So, sorry – no Mission Impossible: Fallout director Christopher McQuarrie either.)
That means our casino chips are staked on two main contenders:
Martin Campbell is probably the frontrunner, having not just already made two Bond movies before, but two extremely challenging Bond movies.
He launched Pierce Brosnan perfectly with GoldenEye, then repeated the same trick with Craig’s Casino Royale. He’s basically who Broccoli and wilson turn to when they need a miracle, and that time is most definitely now.
But if Campbell turns down the chance to collaborate with Craig again, our money’s on Sam Mendes. Director of the most successful Bond, Skyfall, and its slightly less impressive follow-up Spectre, this could be his chance to make up for the latter, by returning to the glory of the former.
Only one snag, and it’s a major one – Mendes is in pre-production on a World War I movie, titled 1917. If they find a way to make the schedules work, Mendes is the first Bond director to score a billion at the box office, so he would probably be an adequate replacement if Campbell passes.
(Failing that, there’s always Solo helmer Ron Howard. We’re only half-joking.)
Whatever happens, don’t worry 007 addicts, James Bond will return, and return, and return.
After Bond 25, he’ll be directed by a journeyman director, and he’ll be played by a low-profile actor who gets wearied by his sudden icon-status over the course of a few films, before passing the Walther PPK onto the next victim, and the pattern will repeat and repeat until the earth is subsumed by the sun.
What we’re saying is… chin up!
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