Danny Boyle has left Bond 25 - who could replace him as director? James Bond is the longest, consistently-running movie franchise around, but its history is more focused on the man who plays 007 and the producers pulling the strings, meaning the director fills a rather ignominious role.
That set up actually seems to be why Boyle left the project. The Oscar-winning filmmaker jumped aboard earlier this year after a script by Trainspotting collaborator John Hodge was approved by rights owners Eon, producer Barbara Broccoli and star Daniel Craig. By all accounts, this take was going to take Bond in a bold, new direction. However, that appears to have proven too much for the powers that be, with creative differences in the direction leaving an empty directors chair and a return to a previous, undoubtedly safer Neal Purvis and Robert Wade (who've had a hand in every script since The World Is Not Enough in 1999).
Since Boyle's departure, several favorites have emerged. Chief among them is Christopher Nolan, who's previously expressed an interest and has homaged Bond in multiple films, and Christopher McQuarrie, who's worked wonders with the rival Mission: Impossible series. However, both of these - and many other names raised - are strong, creative voices just like Boyle who are likely to want screenplay control and most certainly will want to put their own stamp on the character (Nolan even previously ruled himself out of Bond 25, making clear he'd want a totally fresh start).
This sort of auteur Bond movie fans are clamouring for is quite a new quirk. It really only began with 2012's Skyfall where Oscar-winner Sam Mendes delivered a deconstructive, self-questioning take for the franchise's 50th anniversary (using a script by John Logan in collaboration with Purvis & Wade). There'd been more artistic Bonds before that - Casino Royale and On Her Majesty's Secret Service being the most successful - but it wasn't what the franchise was known for. Its directors delivered on formula, and would often come back for many more: six men have directed 19 of the 24 films so far, and the styles are mostly imperceptible to casual audiences outside of other era-specific trends and influences. It's counter to how we discuss modern franchise films (even Marvel push the director stamp) but, evidently, it's believed to work still.
Boyle was a coup for Bond, widely believed to be the result of Craig wanting to get a great final entry after a rocky tenure. However, as the departure announcement highlights the actor, it feels as if the creative differences would appear to run deeper than producers. Further, it suggests that we're going to see a return to the old school approach of what's been the series backbone. That doesn't really fit Nolan, McQuarrie or any other names being bandied about - that's not what Boyle's departure has opened up.
Add in that Eon still looks to be aiming for the November 2019 release date (a similar rushed production turnaround that they attempted with Spectre) and you need above all someone who can deliver. Martin Campbell, who started off both Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig's tenure with aplomb in GoldenEye and Casino Royale, is available and perhaps should be treated as a front-runner, while a game-playing up-and-comer with verve a la Gareth Edwards would be a suitable alt. What seems likely for Bond 25's eventual director is an understated choice, but that's really what 007 needs.
- James Bond 25 (2020) release date: Apr 08, 2020