Blofeld comes back, setting in Afghanistan and a new writer – getting things straight on the next James Bond film

Donald Pleasence in the 1967 film You Only Live Twice
Donald Pleasence in the 1967 film You Only Live Twice

I’ve been reading so much about the as-yet-untitled upcoming James Bond 23 film, it’s getting hard to keep up. I usually don’t discuss early development on projects this big, since much of the early news is so hard to confirm. But this is getting interesting.

So just to bring everyone up to date on what’s happening and what’s rumor, here’s a rundown.

A few things that looks to be pretty solid are that Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, who have co-written the last four James Bond films, will be joined this go round’ by Frost/Nixon writer Peter Morgan for writing duties on the latest installment, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Daniel Craig is also confirmed to be returning as Agent 007. In the same report, it was indicated that MGM, which shared distribution on Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace with Sony Pictures, has regained full control for the newest edition to the franchise, and production has not yet been scheduled, although it is due to be released in 2011.

Everything from this point on is strictly rumor, as far as I can tell.

According to the Guardian, Bond may be headed to the Middle East for his next adventure. More precisely, The poppy fields of Afghanistan. Apparently, a Foreign Office from the British Embassy in Kabul was contracted by the 007 production team to provide technical advice about the country’s lucrative opium trade. The same official reportedly signed a confidentiality agreement regarding the project.

The fan site says the report has some credence because last year’s bestselling novel, Sebastian Faulks’ Devil May Care, revolved around the opium trade in Persia (Iran).

While Bond’s producers previously ruled out an adaptation of Devil May Care, Ian Fleming’s short story Risico, from the For Your Eyes Only collection, also featured a plot involving the drug trade.

Now the Guardian reports that Michael Sheen – who played Jack Frost in Frost/Nixon (written by new Bond scribe Morgan) – is in talks to play Ernst Stavo Blofeld in James Bond 23. Blofeld is one of the all-time iconic villains of the Bond movies. Fans of course know, that Blofeld was last seen before the opening credit sequence in the aforementioned For Your Eyes Only, being dumped out of a remote-controlled helicopter into the top of an industrial factory chimney.

We’ll see how everything pans out, but it seems producers are reaching back to the character’s roots yet again, which I’m excited about.

UPDATED: 6/17/09

Alas, Empire and C.H.U.D. report that the Blofeld rumor was just that, RUMOR. Apparently, all of that started with a comment on Empire’s website, and someone took the ball and ran with it. And according to C.H.U.D., if Sheen were in talks to star in Bond 23, it’s hugely unlikely that he’d play Blofeld. Apparently the rights to Blofeld and SPECTRE are so tied up in legal nonsense that EON wouldn’t bother trying to cut through them anytime soon.

Nothing has been updated regarding the Afghanistan story line however.

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