SONY hack raises SPECTRE of budgetary concerns

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The Sony Pictures hack is the “gift” that keeps on giving as internal information, discussions and negotiations that we’re normally not privy to are being made public. The latest, via CNN Money, shines a light on Sony and MGM’s concerns around the proposed budget for the upcoming James Bond movie, SPECTRE.

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And just what is the proposed budget you ask? In emails sent during early November MGM president Jonathan Glickman said the budget “sits in the mid $300Ms”. That’s a lot of nuts M’s! To put that in perspective, the previous James Bond movie, Skyfall, cost in the region of $210M while the most expensive movie to date, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, cost around $300M. Obviously the executives are not happy with this massive budgetary increase and are/were looking at numerous ways to trim a few million dollars (what’s a few $M between friends?) off the price tag to bring it closer to a more palatable $250M. Glickman gave a few suggestions in his email, as such:

  • Filming a night time scene in London instead of a villa in Rome, presumably because the background would be, you know, dark.
  • Reduce the number of carriages on a train from four to three while filming a fight sequence on said train.
  • A “dramatic finale in the rain” could be reduced to a (I assume) dramatic finale in overcast conditions to “lower the cost of visual/special effects”.
  • Offset production costs by a further $6M by highlighting “the more modern aspects” of Mexico to increase “the Mexican incentive” as the studio is paid to film in the country.

He went on to say,

“We recognize that this movie needs to build on the past few films – and there are expectations we must meet for the audience. Still, we must find further cuts. This is not about ‘nickel and diming’ the production.”

However Barbara Broccoli, heir to the Bond empire and one of SPECTRE’s producers, was not a fan of these suggestions saying “[I] cannot find the cemetery or villa in the UK” and refusing to reduce the number of carriages on the above-mentioned train. Amy Pascal, Sony Pictures co-chairman, later responded directly to Glickman with, “it’s insane and you know with no script this movie is gonna go overbudget.” Erm… no script? That didn’t work out so well for Quantum of Solace.

Glickman did manage to offset production costs through a large product placement deal with Heineken while SPECTRE director Sam Mendes also trimmed $1M off the budget by casting Andrew Scott (Moriarty in BBC’s Sherlock) as Bond’s intelligence agency head “C” instead of Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave).

Two other slightly spoilery bits of information about the movie, so don’t read if you don’t want to know: there’s a “lesbian bad lady” and Ernt Stavro Blofeld will definitely make an appearance.

All the information being released is giving us an uncensored peek behind the curtain. While it’s certainly interesting, I’m a touch conflicted about the whole situation as its origins are decidedly wrong. How do you feel about all this?

Last Updated: December 12, 2014

Trevor Davies

I like pie, I think.

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