Nicolas Winding Refn struck Hollywood gold with a winning combination of stylish violence and even-more-stylish Ryan Gosling when he directed 2011’s Drive. Since then, he has followed it up with the tepidly received Only God Forgives and the soon-to-be-released The Neon Demon. The stylized violence isn’t ending there, though, as the director has several new projects in the pipeline.
One of those projects is a prequel to the cult horror film Maniac Cop, which Refn will be producing. The other project is one he is “developing and producing ” and will be written by a duo known for their contributions to a certain long-running series of movies about a British secret agent.
That series, of course, is James Bond, and the duo is Neil Purvis and Robert Wade. The pair of screenwriters contributed to the scripts for six Bond movies, from 1999’s The World is Not Enough to the most recent film, Spectre, and Deadline is reporting that they will be teaming up with Refn for an as-yet-unspecified movie.
Purvis and Wade have been keeping active recently, with their BBC series SS-GB going into production. Based on the novel of the same name, SS-GB takes place in London in an alternate history where the city is occupied by the Nazis. With Amazon having recently released the similarly premised Man in the High Castle, it seems like Nazis are once again on people’s minds. However, the British series is likely to have less of a brain-twisty science fiction angle than Amazon’s Philip K. Dick adaptation.
The protagonist of SS-GB is a Scotland Yard officer, putting it somewhat in the same wheelhouse as the Bond Films. With Purvis and Wade trafficking mainly in the spy/detective genre, the question now is what kind of movie they will be writing for Refn. Will it be an ultra-violent spy thriller starring Refn’s muse, Ryan Gosling, as an unhinged secret agent? Will it be something more mainstream so Refn can prove he can make a movie that isn’t a total bloodbath? The jury is still out on The Neon Demon, but if it is seen as another niche movie combining “grindhouse-style violence” with box-office-poison pretentiousness then Refn may need to work on convincing Hollywood he can make a crowd pleaser if he wants to continue getting his movies funded.
If anyone can write a crowd pleaser, it’s the two guys who helped bring Bond back into style, but it remains to be seen if mixing their writing experience with Refn’s stylistic sensibilities will make for a winning combination. It’s unclear yet if Refn will be directing the picture, so that could have a great deal to do with how the finished product turns out, but either way he will have a few other projects coming down the pipeline first.
The Neon Demon will be released in early 2016.