New James Bond Movie, ‘Spectre’, Gets a $20 Million Rewrite at Mexican Government’s Request

It was recently announced Stephanie Sigman (Miss Bala) had been added to the cast of the upcoming James Bond movie, Spectre. Casting reports referred to Sigman as the first Mexican “Bond girl”, a character named Estrella, but a story at Tax Analysts brings word the casting was part of a much bigger story.

Once emails leaked out of Sony last year, it was revealed the budget on Spectre was upwards of $300 million, and Jonathan Glickman, president of MGM’s motion picture group, was looking for ways to shave money from said budget. Tax incentives are one such way and the production has, more-or-less, secured a $20 million tax credit courtesy of the Mexican government. What for? Well…

NOTE: There are some story spoilers in the following, all of which from the film’s opening scene.

To fill the role of Estrella, a woman whose hotel room Bond uses to begin his hunt for an assassin named Sciarra, the producers needed to cast a “known Mexican actress,” for instance, though Sciarra himself “cannot be Mexican,” the memo said.

Similarly, the governor of the Federal District, whom the assassin is targeting, needed to be replaced with an international leader instead, just as the notes call for the use of some sort of “special police force,” apparently in place of the Mexican police shown just moments into the film’s start.

The memo also called for aerial shots of “modern Mexico City buildings.”

Other e-mails suggest that all of those requirements were met through changes to the script: Bond’s pursuit of Sciarra during the Mexican “Day of the Dead” celebration replaced a cage match with no apparent geographical setting, it allowed for the addition of a role for a Mexican actress, an ambassador replaced the governor as Sciarra’s target, and the most recent script calls for that scene to end with Bond stealing Sciarra’s helicopter and “taking off into the Mexican skyline.”

What’s mentioned above reportedly earns the production $14 million for what is said to be four minutes of film, and the intent is to do whatever they can to get the other $6 million using footage featuring the Mexican skyline.

It’s an interesting bit of reporting, and something I’m sure will cause some to grow rather upset. How dare they allow them to rewrite the script! However, looking at what was changed I can’t say it appears it will matter all that much, not to mention shooting a scene during the “Day of the Dead” celebration seems like it could result in some amazing images.

That said, it’s a slippery slope. Product placement appears to be more prevalent nowadays with Transformers: Age of Extinction reportedly featuring 55 distinct brands in the film’s running time. What do these brands ask for in exchange for their money other than their placement in the film? And, I have to admit it always throws me off when I’m watching a movie from Sony Pictures and see someone using a VAIO… Who uses a VAIO!?!?!

On a more serious note, how much does it bother you to hear of these changes being made at the request of the Mexican government? It’s certainly not the first time a film has benefit from location shooting, though it seems most often the location requests the city at least not be presented in a negative light. I’m not sure how many times in the past a location has actually asked to change the script.


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