Entertainment & Arts

James Bond: What can 007 fans expect of Spectre?

Daniel Craig Image copyright Reuters

The title and cast of the 24th official James Bond film has been unveiled - so what can 007 fans expect of Spectre?

Just after 11am in the chilly and cavernous interior of the 007 stage at Pinewood Studios, director Sam Mendes revealed the next Bond film will be called Spectre - a name that goes back to the very roots of the world's longest-running film series.

Mendes, who also directed previous Bond adventure Skyfall, said the new film had "everything you would expect from a Bond movie" with "a little more variety... maybe a little more mischief".

Filming starts on Monday with a scene involving Daniel Craig's superspy and Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) in her office.

"I've wanted to involve Spectre for many years and Spectre is back," Bond producer Barbara Broccoli said at Thursday's launch event.

The global crime syndicate - Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion - first appeared in Ian Fleming's original novels and was mentioned in the first Bond film, Dr No, in 1962.

It has been the subject of a legal case with a rival film producer that was recently resolved after many years.

While nothing is confirmed, the speculation now is that Bond's old nemesis Ernst Stavro Blofeld - the head of Spectre - will make an appearance in the film.

"I don't see the point of using Spectre unless they are going to use Blofeld as well," said Professor James Chapman of Leicester University, and author of Licence to Thrill: A Cultural History of the James Bond Films.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Sam Mendes unveils the Aston Martin DB10
Image copyright PA
Image caption Spectre cast members: (l-r) Naomie Harris, Lea Seydoux, Daniel Craig, Monica Bellucci and Christoph Waltz

But he doubted Blofeld will appear the way he was portrayed in the 1960s films. "I don't expect to see a man with a stroking a white cat sitting inside a hollowed-out volcano hijacking rockets.

"The recent films have been about modern plausible villains - terrorists and backers of terrorists in big business. I think we might see Spectre modelled along those sorts of lines."

What is Spectre?

First appearing in the Ian Fleming novel Thunderball (1961), Spectre is an acronym for the clumsily-titled Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion.

Headed by Ernst Stavro Blofeld, it began as a small enterprise of like-minded criminals. But, as the book and film series developed, it grew to include the criminal masterminds of the Gestapo, the Mafia and Smersh (among others) to create a diabolical - but, crucially, apolitical - empire of evil.

It appeared in three of the 007 novels, but gained greater prominence in the film series where Blofeld, with his white Persian cat, played the antagonist seven times. The films also saw the organisation become more closely aligned with the Cold War-era Soviet Union than Fleming had envisaged.

Its logo was an octopus, which is echoed in the first poster for the new Bond film.

Skyfall is the highest-grossing film of all time in the UK and made more than $1.1bn (£705m) at the worldwide box office.

Broccoli told the BBC the budget for Spectre was "higher" than for Skyfall. "Obviously we have a hell of a challenge ahead of us - we want to make this the best Bond movie ever.

"All the money is going to be on the screen as always. That's the thing my father [original Bond producer Cubby Broccoli] always insisted since the very beginning - don't disappoint the fan.

"We believe that we've got a great movie and can't wait to get started on Monday."

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Media captionDirector Sam Mendes: "It would be, perhaps, too easy to assume that because the movie is called [Spectre] that the villain is necessarily one you already know"

Even with a bigger budget, Mendes admitted "money is still tight" and he was still "cutting and adjusting things".

"The fantasy that I had before I directed my first Bond was that finally you get to have all the money you need to make a movie - but the bigger the movie, the more the pressure.

"For me the pressure is just as big as it was on the last one - not for financial reasons, just because you want to make a great movie."

Everyone was staying tight-lipped about the plot at Pinewood.

Here's a sample exchange with Christoph Waltz, who plays a character called Oberhauser, but many speculate might turn out to be Blofeld.

Q: Tell us about your role. A: Absolutely not.

Q: Are you playing Blofeld? A: No, I'm playing someone called Oberhauser.

Q: And what kind of baddie is he going to be? A: Who says it's a baddie?

Ralph Fiennes, who plays the new M, said Dame Judi Dench's M "still haunts this movie in a way you'll find out".

He added: "There's an interesting follow-on from things in other films - I wouldn't say it's a sequel but there's a connective tissue."

Andrew Scott, who will play an MI6-based character called Denbigh, said: "This script is very moving but it's still got all those elements of adventure and action and great wit."

Asked how the secrecy on Bond compared to that on BBC drama Sherlock, in which he plays Moriarty, he responded: "My whole life is a secret."

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Media captionNew and returning cast members struggle to answer questions about the top secret script

Ajay Chowdhury, of the James Bond International Fan Club, said the details of the new film were like a "Christmas present" for Bond fans.

"This announcement is like opening the first window of a Bond advent calendar. Further windows will be: who will sing the song, the first trailers, the premiere.

"The only thing better than this news would be Santa driving an Aston Martin sleigh."

Expect much speculation over the coming months about who will sing the theme song after Adele's Oscar-winning Skyfall. Some cast members at Pinewood on Thursday hinted they already knew who it was.

Bookmaker William Hill puts Sam Smith as favourite at 4/1, with Ed Sheeran second at 6/1, while Lana del Rey, Rita Ora and One Direction are at 8/1.

With so much rumour still floating around the long-running franchise, Mendes revealed how he plans to cope in the months ahead.

"This marks the beginning of the year where I don't read the internet," he quipped, before disappearing behind the scenes on the 007 stage to prepare for his opening shots.

Spectre - what do we know?

Image caption The full cast of Spectre pose for the world's photographers
  • Principal photography is due to begin on Monday at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire and continue for seven months.
  • Daniel Craig will play 007 for the fourth time
  • Other cast members include Sherlock's Andrew Scott, as a character called Denbigh, and Guardians of the Galaxy actor Dave Bautista, playing a henchman called Mr Hinx.
  • Italian actress Monica Bellucci and France's Lea Seydoux have been unveiled as the new 'Bond girls', named Lucia Sciarra and Madeleine Swann respectively.
  • Christoph Waltz plays a character called Oberhauser
  • Bond will drive an Aston Martin DB10
  • Returning cast members are Ralph Fiennes (M), Naomie Harris (Moneypenny), Ben Whishaw (Q) and Rory Kinnear (Tanner)
  • Locations include London, Mexico City, Rome and Tangier and Erfoud, in Morocco, as well as snow sequences in Austria.
  • Skyfall's John Logan has written the script for Spectre alongside Bond writing team Neal Purvis and Robert Wade.

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