next james bond

Like any massive machine that has been in operation for decades, the James Bond franchise is sometimes slow to get rolling. But once it picks up speed, nothing can halt its progress. Following yesterday’s news that the 25th 007 adventure will hit theaters on November 8, 2019, and the rumors that Daniel Craig is very close to officially signing on to return, we know who the Bond producers are eyeing for the director’s chair.

And while they all come from different filmmaking backgrounds, they have one thing in common: they all have a big hit, either financial, critical, or both, in their wake.

According to DeadlineYann Demange, Denis Villeneuve, and David Mackenzie are the frontrunners for the job, noting that producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson have met with all three of them. Variety goes a step further, noting that Demange is the frontrunner amongst the frontrunners. Both trades confirm yesterday’s New York Times story that Craig, who seemed pretty unhappy about playing James Bond after the exhausting Spectre shoot, will take on the most iconic action hero in movie history at least one more time.

Interestingly, all of this is moving forward without Bond 25 having a distributor. Following the end of EON Productions’ contract with Sony, the 007 producers met with every studio in town (some of whom put on a pretty lavish show). Variety notes that Warner Bros. is currently the closest to landing the gig, which would add another gem to their strong line-up of popular franchises and characters.

So, let’s take a look at the names in contention for the director’s job, shall we?

Denis Villeneuve

The biggest of these names also feels the least likely to take on the gig. Despite a slow and steady start with acclaimed but not widely seen movies like Incendies, the French Canadian Villeneuve has rocketed to success in recent years. He directed the powerful (if slightly overbearing) drama Prisoners, the wild and surreal Enemy, the vicious action thriller Sicario, and scored an Oscar nomination for directing last year’s Best Picture nominee and an instant classic, Arrival. Right now, he’s hard at work finishing Blade Runner 2049, proof that he’s not afraid to play in someone else’s franchise between his more personal projects. He makes slick, intense, and frequently emotional movies – he’d be quite the match for the Daniel Craig era. But is he malleable enough to make a James Bond movie, which are notoriously producer-driven? Normally, I’d say no…but there mere existence of Blade Runner 2049 feels like a rebuttal to that.

David Mackenzie

Another filmmaker who has been working for some time and has only truly broken through in recent years, the Scottish MacKenzie has been directing features since the mid-’90s. However, he stirred up critical buzz with his intense prison film Starred Up, which rocked the festival circuit back in 2013. However, it’s surely 2016’s Hell or High Water that got him James Bond meetings. The 2016 thriller received great reviews, was a sleeper hit at the box office, and was a surprise nominee for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Mackenzie is also the kind of director EON has favored in recent years – a critical darling but someone whose style will bend with the Bond series rather than break against it.

Yann Demange

The least known of this trio can’t help but feel the most likely…even though some stubborn Bond fans may say it’s blasphemous to hand 007 over to a Frenchman. Demange kicked off his career in television, directing for shows like Dead Set and Top Boy before making his feature debut with 2014’s ’71, a thriller about a British soldier stranded in the streets of Belfast following a riot. The film was a critical darling (even if it never broke into the mainstream) and earned Demange his next project: the crime drama White Boy Rick, which stars Matthew McConaughey and is due out in theaters next year.  Acclaimed, capable, and just anonymous enough? Yeah, that sounds like a James Bond director.

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