In 2012, Skyfall, the 23rd installment in the long-running James Bond franchise, was one of the year's biggest successes. Becoming the highest-grossing film in the series (over $1 billion worldwide), director Sam Mendes also delivered one of 007's finest critical hits, celebrating the 50th anniversary of Bond on film in grand fashion.
As a result, anticipation is higher than ever for James Bond 24. Mendes will be returning to helm the film, which is set for a November 2015 release. It was originally reported that the cast and crew would assemble for principle photography in October of this year, but some alleged last-minute script rewrites (from franchise veterans Neal Purvis and Robert Wade) to "punch up" Bond 24's humor led to some believing that start date would be delayed by a couple of months.
It turns out, that assumption was more than accurate; it was apparently spot-on. According to the Bond fan-site MI6, production is expected to begin on December 6, 2014. The casting process for the new Bond girls and villain is currently underway, and Mendes will lead a table read of the script with the main actors (including Daniel Craig, Ralph Fiennes, Naomi Harris, and Ben Whishaw) in late November.
Their report also notes that in typical Bond fashion, the sequel will see several shooting locations, including Austria, Rome (which will be the stage for a car chase), Morocco, and the legendary Pinewood Studios in England (home for many Bond films prior).
This news should please many Bond fans who feared that the screenplay revisions would cause the film to be delayed for a considerable time; perhaps even pushing back the planned release date. With filming commencing this holiday season, Mendes will have ample time to put the final product together for a November 2015 debut. For comparison's sake, Skyfall began production in November 2011 before hitting theaters a year later.
Now that the "polite turmoil" of the writing process is behind the team, the conversation will turn to the new thespians who will be joining Craig's Bond, Fienne's M, and Harris' Moneypenny. Oscar-nominee Chiwetel Ejiofer was at one point the rumored front-runner for the villain role, but there's been no new developments on that front for a few months.
MI6 notes that Mendes is seeking a physically-imposing henchmen for whomever the main baddie is and he's also testing Scandinavian actresses for a minor female part. The main Bond girl is expected to be British.
The other major discussion point among fans will be the film's overall story, which we know will (along with the forthcoming Bond 25) build on the narrative threads and story beats from Skyfall. Co-writer John Logan has previously said that film's themes and ideas can carry over into future installments and its "resonance" will be felt in Bond 24.
Whatever that might entail, we're confident that the team can take advantage of the positive momentum they established a couple years back.
With Mendes once again sitting in the director's chair, the three Skyfall writers all having a hand in the script, and the franchise's impressive cast returning to their iconic roles, Bond 24 is shaping up to be a treat for moviegoers come next fall.
We all know about the high-profile summer for 2015, but the back half of that year should be just as noteworthy with a return to a galaxy far, far away, another impossible mission to accept, Katniss Everdeen's final fight, and now a new ride in the Aston Martin.
Bond 24 will be in U.K. theaters on October 23, 2015, followed by a U.S. premiere on November 6, 2015.
Follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisAgar90.