James Bond 24 Delayed As Veteran Scribes Return For Rewrites

The next James Bond film is back in the shop for some rewrites, a development which could delay production and push back the release date, currently slated for November 2015.

The film, 24th in the franchise that dates back to 1962, will be directed by Sam Mendes, who won acclaim and box office success for 2012’s Skyfall. That movie was scripted by veteran 007 scribes Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, as well as newcomer John Logan.

Logan had been the sole writer for Bond 24, but apparently the screenplay wasn’t up to par – because Purvis and Wade have been brought back onboard for rewrites, according to Variety.

It was big news when Mendes signed on for the film last summer, since previous commitments made it seem he’d be one-and-done in the Bond franchise. But Skyfall brought in over $1 billion at the global box office, and continued its money-making ways in home video sales as well, making Mendes’ return a priority for Sony/MGM.

Daniel Craig will be returning as Bond for his fourth go at the role.

As The Onion‘s A.C. Club pointed out, Purvis and Wade are no strangers to the franchise, having had a hand in every script since 1999’s The World Is Not Enough, starring Pierce Brosnan as James Bond. A.V. Club‘s Sam Barsanti says that “Logan had reportedly intended to use the next two Bond movies to tell one cohesive story,” but that plan could be up in the air now.

Meanwhile, The Daily Mail‘s Baz Bamigboye says that the “reshuffle” is due to “what some are calling ‘polite turmoil’ behind the scenes” of the Bond film.

This is actually a reversal of what happened on Skyfall, when Logan came on to rewrite a first draft by Purvis and Wade. Bamigboye quotes somebody close to the franchise as saying that “Neal and Robert are only doing what was done to them. There’s no blood; no scars.”

But it does appear that the rewrites will mean production is delayed slightly, to December. Whether that will affect the November 2015 release is unknown.

The move comes on the heels of John Cleese’s criticisms of the recent Bond films. As we reported last week, Cleese, the veteran actor known for his Monty Python work, and his role as Q in the last two Brosnan 007 films, criticized the Craig movies for being humorless. He attributed that to what he said was a desire to appeal to Asian audiences, who “go to watch the action sequences,” and “are not going for the subtle British humor or the class jokes.”

While Bamigboye says that the need for rewrites became clear to the studio before Cleese’s criticisms, those tweaks will apparently address an overly serious tone. From The Daily Mail writer:

Purvis and Wade have been asked to ‘punch up’ the script and sprinkle in more gags, emphasising the witty repartee between Daniel Craig’s 007 and Naomie Harris’s Miss Moneypenny, and focusing on the interplay between Bond and Ralph Fiennes’s M.

Bond himself, Daniel Craig, commented on the lack of humor last year, telling Vulture that “hopefully we’ll reclaim some of the old irony,” albeit with the caveat that they “make sure it doesn’t become pastiche.”

“I sometimes wish I hammed it up more, but I just can’t do it very well, so I don’t do it,” Craig added.

As of now, James Bond 24 is currently scheduled for release in the U.K. on October 23, 2015 and in the U.S. shortly thereafter on November 6. It will also, presumably, be called something else by then.

[photo: Pizbirg]