Feb 15, 2019

Tradecraft: BOND 25 Moves from Valentine's Day to Easter Weekend 2020

Deadline reports that the next Daniel Craig James Bond movie has switched release dates again... but unlike the last date change, from November 2019 to February 2020, this one isn't because of production delays. That move came because original director Danny Boyle left the project and the script (or treatment, depending on how far they had gotten) he had developed with John Hodge was jettisoned in favor of (or possibly incorporated into; the details are still unclear) a previously existing story idea by regular Bond scribes Neal Purvis and Robert Wade as Cary Joji Fukanaga (Maniac, True Detective) came on board to helm.

This time, the shift comes as part of a release date shuffle at Universal, who will distribute Bond 25 internationally in conjunction with MGM, who will release domestically through their joint venture with Annapurna, now happily branded as United Artists (per Variety)... bringing Bond back home, as it were. (The first 19 James Bond films were released through United Artists, but that logo hasn't been seen at the head of a 007 movie since 1999's The World Is Not Enough.) Universal moved the 9th Fast and Furious movie away from its traditional April berth into the Memorial Day frame. According to the trade, this was done because Easter Weekend, when it had initially been slated, is crammed full in China, where that blockbuster franchise does a large percentage of its business. With April 8 now free, it made sense for the studios involved to move Bond 25 into that plum Easter Weekend slot, when there are currently no other major movies scheduled to open.

Four of the last five Fast & Furious movies have opened in April (basically ever since the franchise reinvented itself as an international caper series), turning that month into the unofficial start of the summer tent pole movie season that used to begin Memorial Day weekend, and thus paving the way for 007. Bond movies have traditionally opened around Christmas time ever since GoldenEye in 1995, following the box office failure of Licence to Kill in the crowded summer marketplace of 1989, which included stiff competition from Batman, Lethal Weapon 2, and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. It will be interesting to see if the April date for Bond 25 signals anther long-term paradigm shift for the series, or ultimately proves an anomaly like the June-released Fast & Furious 6 in 2013. To be honest, I was kind of looking forward to a Valentine's Day Bond movie, but April makes sense for the series. And by returning to the summer box office the franchise once dominated as well as the UA logo on the head, it makes Bond 25 even more of a homecoming.

According to the trade, series regulars Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, and Naomie Harris are all set to return as M, Q, and Moneypenny, respectively, along with Lea Seydoux reprising her SPECTRE role as Madeiline Swann, and thus becoming the first recurring Bond Girl (in the same role, anyway) since Eunice Gayson's Sylvia Trench in Dr. No and From Russia With Love (1962 and '63, respectively). My fingers are firmly crossed that Rory Kinnear will also return as Bill Tanner, and just isn't a big enough name to warrant mention in the trades at this point.

And speaking of Fast & Furious movies (which obviously owe a huge debt to the Bond series), prior to that ninth one in 2020 we will see their all-spy spinoff movie, Fast & Furious Presents Hobbs & Shaw, which opens this summer starring Jason Statham, The Rock, and frequent source of 007 rumors Idris Elba. The first trailer was recently released.

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