The particulars of James Bond 25 have been finalized, and everything’s now officially official. After years of rumors and guesswork, it was announced that EON Productions—the owners of the Bond rights—has settled on Universal Pictures to handle international distribution of Bond 25, while the previously announced MGM Studios will handle domestic distribution through their joint venture with Annapurna Pictures. Moreover, Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire filmmaker Danny Boyle has been confirmed to be directing the film from an original screenplay by John Hodge (Trainspotting). Filming will begin on December 8th and the untitled sequel will be released in the U.K. on October 25, 2019 and in the U.S. on November 8, 2019. And yes, Daniel Craig is back.
There are some surprising bits in this press release. First, the international distribution. Sony Pictures handled distribution of the last four Bond movies, from Casino Royale to Spectre, and while EON opted to go with MGM and Annapurna for domestic distribution when the deal expired, many assumed Sony would still be handling international distribution. The switch to Universal is a huge blow to Sony, which would have garnered some serious coin had they maintained the international distribution rights.
Then there’s the start date. EON began the director hunt last fall, with names like Yann Demange (’71) and David Mackenzie (Hell or High Water) on the shortlist. But in February, Boyle emerged as a surprise contender having pitched an original idea he hatched with his T2: Trainspotting writer John Hodge. The deal was that Hodge would write that script, and if the producers sparked to it, that’s the movie that would get made instead of the existing Bond 25 script by Bond veterans Neal Purvis and Robert Wade. It appears everyone liked what Hodge put together, so Danny Boyle is now definitely making a Bond movie.
But Boyle will be pulling a bit of a Spielberg here. He’s shooting a smaller scale original musical for Working Title this summer starring Kate McKinnon, and it sounds like he’s going to very quickly complete post-production on that film while simultaneously prepping the herculean effort that is Bond 25. The Bond 25 filming date was likely non-negotiable since EON has promised that Fall 2019 release date, so it’ll be interesting to see how Boyle juggles both productions.
This kind of challenge isn’t exactly unique for Boyle, however, as he previously shot principal photography on his 2013 thriller Trance, then put that aside for a year so he could create and direct the London Olympics Opening Ceremony, after which he completed post-production on Trance.
As a big fan of Boyle’s work (check out T2—it’s really good!) I’m extremely excited to see what he puts together here. And here’s hoping he brings cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle with him.