The producers of the James Bond franchise are looking to "refresh" the film series as it enters a new era.
Speaking at the BFI's 'In conversation: 60 years of James Bond' event – part of a series of panels marking six decades of agent 007 on the big screen – producer Michael G. Wilson said he and co-producer Barbara Broccoli are aware that fans feel a "sense of ownership" over the character.
"He's a fictitious character who's become part of our culture – like Sherlock Holmes, or Superman, or any of these characters, they transcend any particular moviemaker or any writer, anything like that," said Wilson.
"They become property of the nation and there is a sense of ownership about it and people can be outraged if they think James Bond is going off the tracks. For Barbara and I, it's something we keep in mind – we want to satisfy the audiences but we need to surprise them and refresh it, so that's the challenge."
Broccoli had previously suggested that the hunt for an actor to replace Daniel Craig as Bond would not begin in earnest until work was underway on the script for the next 007 film.
"There isn’t a script and we can’t come up with one until we decide how we’re going to approach the next film because, really, it’s a reinvention of Bond," she said back in June.
"We’re reinventing who he is and that takes time. I’d say that filming is at least two years away."
When it comes to reflecting changing times however, Wilson suggested at the BFI event that the Bond films should "not just embrace everything immediately", arguing that "sometimes things that you think are really important and key are completely out of date 10 years later".
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The movies will, he insisted, continue to draw on Ian Fleming's original novels, with the author's "rich" storytelling allowing for various interpretations of the stories and character.
"If you actually read the Bond novels, they're pretty good literature when you get down to it [and] Bond's a very complex figure," Wilson said. "That's why it's lasted so long, because you can pull out of Fleming all kinds of situations and interpretations of Bond, and each one of the actors that've played it have taken it on as their own and reinterpreted Fleming but they've always found the basis for the character in Fleming, which shows you how rich he was a novelist."
Though it's yet to be determined who will be the next actor to portray Fleming's spy, Debbie McWilliams – casting director on the Bond series – admitted she's been stunned by some of the names suggested to play 007.
"It's an extraordinary phenomenon that just about every man on the planet thinks he is James Bond," she said. "I mean, if you saw my e-mail inbox, you would be astonished at the people who think that."
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