The James Bond film franchise was hoping for lighting to strike twice with Spectre, the second installment director Sam Mendes helmed. His Skyfall marked a new high for the action series, earning widespread acclaim and $1 billion at the worldwide box office. Despite an impressive commercial haul ($879.2 million globally), Spectre could not match its predecessor in regards to critical and fan reception (read our review), with many people seeing it as a "Bond by the numbers" production that didn't bring anything fresh to the table.
Spectre's lukewarm word-of-mouth coupled with star Daniel Craig's not-so-flattering comments about portraying the iconic spy puts the 007 franchise in an interesting place moving forward. Whether or not Craig returns for Bond 25, the producers know they need to do something to recapture the magic of Casino Royale and Skyfall - two films that reinvigorated the character with mainstream audiences. And they feel the best way to accomplish that is to tell a narrative that speaks to the modern society.
While at Christie's Spectre auction, Bond associate producer Gregg Wilson spoke with the site FilmWeb (hat tip Birth Movies Death for the English translation) about the development of Bond 25. He said at this juncture concepts are being tossed around, as the team tries to figure out the next threat for MI6 to face:
"We've just begun to doodle with ideas for the next movie. Each script process begins when we ask ourselves the question: 'What is the world afraid of now?' In the case of Spectre the theme was global monitoring and utilization of information. So now we are trying to find out what will be relevant in the coming years."
This is certainly a sound strategy and should help EON Productions in their mission to keep James Bond relevant with today's audience. Wilson did not elaborate on what's being discussed, but there certainly are numerous possibilities and it will be interesting to see which direction they go. That said, the main issue most had with Spectre was that it felt overtly familiar, and Wilson seems to be aware of this. He said in his interview that they want to "do something new with the Bond character" and place the secret agent in "situations we have not seen him in the past." Doing something unique or original in the films could go a long way in putting Bond back on top and is almost a necessity in today's age of mega franchises. EON needs to step up their game or they run the risk of being overshadowed.
Wilson added that one thing that helps the team is going back to Ian Fleming's works for inspiration, which is encouraging, since Fleming's book was the basis for the highly-successful Casino Royale in 2006. Unfortunately, EON has adapted all of the author's novels to the big screen. However, they could look towards one of Fleming's short stories, such as "007 in New York." Seeing Bond take on a mission that is primarily set in America could be a refreshing change-of-pace and perhaps allow him to work with Jeffrey Wright's version of CIA agent Felix Leiter again. Blockbusters are shifting towards team-ups, after all.
As the producers look for ways to mix things up, they still have to figure out the future of Bond in the movies. There's a bidding war going on for the film distribution rights and depending on how that shakes up, there could be a new leading man in the tuxedo. Should another studio beat out incumbent Sony, they may decide to move on from Craig, who sounds like he's ready to step down after four pictures as it is. Right now there are a lot of things up in the air, but one thing we know for sure is that James Bond will return. How or when he does remains to be seen.
Spectre is now available on Blu-ray. We'll keep you updated on the development of Bond 25.