When director Danny Boyle suddenly quit the James Bond franchise on August 21, the reason for the shock move was shrouded in M16-level secrecy.
Now it has been reported the Slumdog Millionaire Oscar winner decamped in a fight over killing off the big screen’s most famous spy.
Producer Barbara Broccoli and leading man Daniel Craig, believed to be keen to draw a curtain down on his 007 stint, reportedly wanted Bond to die in a “spectacular finale.”
But Boyle, 61, stuck to his guns and refused to helm Bond’s demise in the as-yet untitled Bond 25 movie, according to newspaper The Sun.
The movie was due to start shooting in early December.
The producers and star haven’t commented on the claims, with the official Twitter account instead running a birthday message for Sean Connery and a promotion of new 007 windproof Zippo lighters.
A long-time Bond fan who featured in Craig’s skydiving mission with the Queen in the 2012 London Olympics ceremony, which he directed, Boyle is said to have denounced the 007 death plot twist as “ridiculous”.
“There were discussions about killing off Bond in dramatic fashion at the end. It would be a final hurrah for Daniel, and leave fans hanging,” a source told the British tabloid.
“It would also leave it open for a twist in the next instalment – either Bond hadn’t died or there could be a Doctor Who-esque regeneration with a new actor.”
Boyle’s departure was announced on the franchise’s Twitter account with the claim the director walked “due to creative differences.”
Michael G. Wilson, Barbara Broccoli and Daniel Craig today announced that due to creative differences Danny Boyle has decided to no longer direct Bond 25. pic.twitter.com/0Thl116eAd
— James Bond (@007) August 21, 2018
The next day, it was reported producers were unimpressed with the film’s storyline, which is said to have drawn heavily on recent political tensions with Russia.
“Boyle and the Bond team were at odds over a script penned by Boyle collaborator John Hodge,” said The Hollywood Reporter, which added a previous draft was written by Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, who also wrote Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, Skyfall and Spectre.
Now, “It could take months to come up with a script that pleases all parties, including whomever Broccoli and Wilson hire to direct the movie,” it said.
There were also claims Boyle, who was signed up in March, and Craig had clashing visions for the movie.
“There were clashes over budget and there’s pandemonium among crew with people leaving the production left, right and centre,” said the Sun source.
The casting process for the latest Bond is believed to have just begun and The Hollywood Reporter voiced fears the movie’s proposed November 2019 release date is in danger of being pushed back.
“It’s possible that Bond 25 may not hit theatres until late 2020,” the US entertainment site claimed.
“Even before Boyle departed, there was talk of pushing the movie’s release to early 2020.”
First cast in 2005, Craig has held the James Bond role longer than any predecessor, his 13 years edging out Roger Moore’s 12.
Earlier this month, another former Bond, Pierce Brosnan, said that on Craig’s watch the franchise had lost its sense of fun and that it should swing back towards a world where action heroes aren’t taken too seriously, a la Moore’s heyday.
On this day in 1978, principal photography began on MOONRAKER. “With Roger, there’s always a glint in his eye,” said Michael Lonsdale who played villain Hugo Drax. pic.twitter.com/99MIbZ96lu
— James Bond (@007) August 11, 2018
“You have to let the audience in that this is a fantastic joke,” Brosnan told The Rake.
“Jumping off a motorcycle and catching up a plane, is completely preposterous,” he said.
Beyond Bond 25, Idris Elba has scotched rumours he’ll be pulling on the spy’s signature tuxedo. He sparked the recent buzz himself by tweeting, “My name’s Elba, Idris Elba” in a riff on Bond’s catchcry.