The Bond 25 plot thickens. Producers for the next Bond movie have been moving forward pretty aggressively, staking out a November 2019 release date last fall and only fairly recently securing a new distribution partner in Annapurna Pictures, which itself is a new entry in the world of film distribution. Last year word on the street was that Yann Demange, the filmmaker behind the Jack O’Connell-fronted ’71 was the top choice to direct Bond 25, with Denis Villeneuve also making the shortlist but serving as an unlikely contender as he’s already committed to making Dune next.
Things got even more complicated when we learned last month that Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle is a late addition to the Bond 25 directing pool, with news that Boyle and his Trainspotting writer John Hodge had cooked up an original story that the Bond producers sparked to. The plan is for Hodge to go off and write that script, and if the producers like it Boyle will sign on and make that Bond movie. If they don’t, they’ll go back to the existing script by Bond veterans Neal Purvis and Robert Wade and likely return to someone like Demange to direct.
Well things got even murkier when it was announced that Boyle’s next project will actually be an original musical for Working Title, and now Demange has seemingly taken himself out of the running for Bond 25 by signing on to a hot new HBO project. THR reports that Demange will direct the first episode of the supernatural racial drama Lovecraft Country for HBO. The series is based on the 2016 novel of the same name by Matt Ruff and hails from executive producers Jordan Peele and J.J. Abrams.
The story of Lovecraft Country takes place in 1950s Jim Crow America and revolves around a man named Atticus Black who teams up with his friend Letita and his Uncle George to embark on a road trip in search of his missing father, encountering racist terrors of White American and Lovecraftian monsters along the way.
Demange, who most recently helmed the upcoming drama White Boy Rick with Matthew McConaughey, will direct the first episode and executive produce, and as this project is gaining steam it very much sounds like Demange will be wrapped up in this for the rest of 2018. That means if Bond 25 wants to meet its November 2019 release date, Demange likely won’t be its director.
So where does this leave Bond 25, and just WTF is going on here? The Boyle announcement about his Working Title film felt a bit like negotiating in the press—it’s possible Boyle was showing he doesn’t need Bond, thus making the potential deal more favorable to him, so he could always push that Working Title project back. But this Demange news feels like the filmmaker was understandably perturbed by the Bond producers switching gears at the last minute, and as he’s in-demand himself, is simply moving on.
The Boyle situation was reportedly a result of Annapurna wanting one last push to find an A-list director, after both Villeneuve and Christopher Nolan passed—Nolan has always said he’d make a Bond movie when it’s time to reboot the franchise. Bond 25 is planned as Daniel Craig’s final outing as the character so they no doubt want to do this right, but it’s looking likelier that the film isn’t going to meet that November 2019 release date. Or else they’re going to rush it and we could end up with a subpar film as a result.
Another filmmaker was on that initial shortlist, David Mackenzie, who helmed Hell or High Water and is in post-production on the Netflix movie Outlaw King. It’s possible the producers could return to him if Boyle’s deal falls through and Demange is out, but if they really want a big name it’s also possible they look elsewhere. Honestly this is all very confusing at this point, so hopefully something solid happens soon.