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SPECTRE

Spectre (2015) is the twenty-fourth James Bond film produced by Eon Productions. It features Daniel Craig in his fourth performance as James Bond, and Christoph Waltz as Ernst Stavro Blofeld, with the film marking the character's re-introduction into the series. It was directed by Sam Mendes as his second James Bond film following Skyfall, and was written by John Logan, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and Jez Butterworth. It is distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Columbia Pictures. With a budget between $245–300 million, it is one of the most expensive films ever made.

The story features James Bond's first encounter with the global criminal organisation Spectre, marking the group's first appearance in an Eon Productions film since 1971's Diamonds Are Forever, and tying Craig's series of films together with an over-arching storyline. Several recurring James Bond characters, including M, Q and Miss Moneypenny return, with the new additions of Léa Seydoux as Dr. Madeleine Swann, Dave Bautista as Mr. Hinx, and Monica Bellucci as Lucia Sciarra.

Spectre was released on October 26th 2015 in the United Kingdom on the same night as the world premiere at the Royal Albert Hall in London, followed by a worldwide release. It was released in the United States on November 6th 2015. It became the second James Bond film to be screened in IMAX venues after Skyfall, although it was not filmed with IMAX cameras. Spectre generally received mixed reviews from critics in comparison to its predecessor, being criticised for its length, lack of action, romance and writing, but received praise for Craig's acting, Hoyte van Hoytema's cinematography, Mendes' directing and Thomas Newman's score.

The ownership of the Spectre organisation - originally stylised "SPECTRE" as an acronym of Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion - and its characters had been at the centre of long-standing litigation starting in 1961 between Ian Fleming and Kevin McClory over the film rights to the novel Thunderball. The dispute began after Fleming incorporated elements of an undeveloped film script written with McClory and screenwriter Jack Whittingham - including characters and plot points - into Thunderball, which McClory contested in court, claiming ownership over elements of the novel. In 1963 Fleming settled out of court with McClory, in an agreement which awarded McClory the film rights. This enabled him to become a producer for the 1965 film Thunderball, with Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman as executive producers, and the non-EON film Never Say Never Again, an updated remake of Thunderball, in 1983. A second remake, entitled Warhead 2000 A.D., was planned for production and release in the 1990s before being abandoned. Under the terms of the 1963 settlement, the literary rights stayed with Fleming, allowing the Spectre organisation and associated characters to continue appearing in print.

In November 2013 MGM and the McClory estate formally settled the issue with Danjaq, LLC, sister company of Eon Productions, with MGM acquiring the full copyright film rights to the concept of Spectre and all of the characters associated with it. With the acquisition of the film rights and the organisation's re-introduction to the series' continuity, the SPECTRE acronym was discarded and the organisation reimagined as "Spectre".
In November 2014 Sony Pictures Entertainment was targeted by hackers who released details of confidential e-mails between Sony executives regarding several high-profile film projects. Included within these were several memos relating to the production of Spectre claiming that the film was over budget, detailing early drafts of the script written by John Logan and expressing Sony's frustration with the project. Eon Productions later issued a statement confirming the leak of what they called "an early version of the screenplay".

Despite being an original story, Spectre draws on Ian Fleming's source material, most notably in the character of Franz Oberhauser, played by Christoph Waltz. Oberhauser shares his name with Hannes Oberhauser, a background character in the short story "Octopussy" from the Octopussy and The Living Daylights collection, and who is named in the film as having been a temporary legal guardian of a young Bond in 1983. Similarly, Charmian Bond is shown to have been his full-time guardian, observing the back story established by Fleming. With the acquisition of the rights to Spectre and its associated characters, screenwriters Neal Purvis and Robert Wade revealed that the film will provide a minor retcon to the continuity of the previous films, with the Quantum organisation alluded to in Casino Royale and introduced in Quantum of Solace reimagined as a division within Spectre rather than an independent organisation.

The main cast were revealed in December 2014 at the 007 Stage at Pinewood Studios. Daniel Craig returns for his fourth appearance as James Bond, while Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris and Ben Whishaw reprise their roles as M, Eve Moneypenny and Q respectively, having been established in Skyfall. Rory Kinnear also reprised his role as Bill Tanner in his third appearance in the series.

Christoph Waltz (below) was cast in the role of Franz Oberhauser, though he refused to comment on the nature of the part. It was later revealed with the film's release that he is Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Dave Bautista was cast as Mr. Hinx after producers sought an actor with a background in contact sports. After casting Bérénice Lim Marlohe, a relative newcomer, as Sévérine in Skyfall, Mendes consciously sought out a more experienced actor for the role of Madeleine Swann, ultimately casting Léa Seydoux in the role. Monica Bellucci joined the cast as Lucia Sciarra, becoming, at the age of fifty, the oldest actress to be cast as a Bond girl. In a separate interview with Danish website Euroman, Jesper Christensen revealed he will be reprising his role as Mr. White from Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. Christensen's character was reportedly killed off in a scene intended to be used as an epilogue to Quantum of Solace before it was removed from the final cut of the film, enabling his return in Spectre.

In addition to the principal cast, Alessandro Cremona was cast as Marco Sciarra, Stephanie Sigman was cast as Estrella, and Detlef Bothe was cast as a villain for scenes shot in Austria. In February 2015 over fifteen hundred extras were hired for the pre-title sequence set in Mexico, though they were duplicated in the film, giving the effect of around ten thousand extras.

In March 2013 Mendes said he would not return to direct the next film in the series, then known as Bond 24; he later recanted and announced that he would return, as he found the script and the plans for the long-term future of the franchise appealing. In directing Skyfall and Spectre, Mendes became the first director to oversee two consecutive Bond films since John Glen directed The Living Daylights and Licence to Kill in 1987 and 1989. Skyfall writer John Logan resumed his role of scriptwriter, collaborating with Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, who returned for their sixth Bond film. The writer Jez Butterworth also worked on the script, alongside Mendes and Craig. Dennis Gassner will also return as the film's production designer, while cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema will take over from Roger Deakins. In July 2015 Mendes noted that the combined crew of Spectre numbered over one thousand, making it a larger production than Skyfall. Craig is listed as co-producer.

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Mendes revealed that production would begin on December 8th 2014 at Pinewood Studios, with filming taking seven months. Mendes also confirmed several filming locations, including London, Mexico City and Rome. Van Hoytema shot the film on Kodak 35 mm film stock. Early filming took place at Pinewood Studios, and around London, with scenes variously featuring Craig and Harris at Bond's flat, and Craig and Kinnear travelling down the River Thames.

Filming started in Austria in December 2014, with production taking in the area around Sölden, including the Ötztal Glacier Road, Rettenbach glacier and the adjacent ski resort and cable car station, as well as Obertilliach and Lake Altaussee before concluding in February 2015. Scenes filmed in Austria centred on the Ice Q Restaurant, standing in for the fictional Hoffler Klinik, a private medical clinic in the Austrian Alps and included an action scene featuring a Land Rover Defender Bigfoot and a Range Rover Sport. Production was temporarily halted first by an injury to Craig, who sprained his knee whilst shooting a fight scene, and later by an accident involving a filming vehicle that saw three crew members injured, at least one of them seriously.

Filming temporarily returned to England to shoot scenes at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, which stood in for a location in Rome, before moving on to the city itself for a five-week shoot across the city, with locations including the Ponte Sisto bridge and the Roman Forum. The production faced opposition from a variety of special interest groups and city authorities who were concerned about the potential for damage to historical sites around the city and problems with graffiti and rubbish appearing in the film. A car chase scene set along the banks of the Tiber River and through the streets of Rome featured an Aston Martin DB10 and a Jaguar C-X75. The C-X75 was originally developed as a hybrid electric vehicle with four independent electric engines powered by two jet turbines before the project was cancelled, but the version used for filming was converted to use a conventional internal combustion engine. The C-X75s used for filming were developed by the engineering division of Formula One racing team Williams, who built the original C-X75 prototype for Jaguar.

With filming completed in Rome, production moved to Mexico City in late March to shoot the film's opening sequence, with scenes to include the Day of the Dead festival filmed in and around the Zócalo and the Centro Histórico district. The planned scenes required the city square to be closed for filming a sequence involving a fight aboard a Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm Bo 105 helicopter flown by stunt pilot Chuck Aaron, which called for modifications to be made to several buildings to prevent damage. This particular scene in Mexico required 1,500 extras, 10 giant skeletons and 250,000 paper flowers. Reports in the Mexican media added that the film's second unit would move to Palenque in the state of Chiapas to film aerial manoeuvres considered too dangerous to shoot in an urban area.

Whilst filming in Mexico City, speculation in the media claimed that the script had been altered to accommodate the demands of Mexican authorities, reportedly influencing details of the scene and characters, casting choices, and modifying the script in order to portray the country in a "positive light", in order to secure tax concessions and financial support worth up to $20 million for the film. This was denied by producer Michael G. Wilson, who stated that the scene had always been intended to be shot in Mexico as production had been attracted to the imagery of the Day of the Dead, and that the script had been developed from there. Production of Skyfall had previously faced similar problems while attempting to secure permits to shoot the film's pre-title sequence in India before moving to Istanbul.

Following filming in Mexico, and during a scheduled break, Craig was flown to New York to undergo minor surgery to fix his knee injury. It was reported that filming was not affected and he had returned to filming at Pinewood Studios as planned on 22nd April.

A brief shoot at London's City Hall was filmed on April 18th 2015, while Mendes was on location. On May 17th 2015 filming took place on the Thames in London. Stunt scenes involving Craig and Seydoux on a speedboat as well as a low flying helicopter near Westminster Bridge were shot at night, with filming temporarily closing both Westminster and Lambeth Bridges. Scenes were also shot on the river near MI6's headquarters at Vauxhall Cross. The crew returned to the river less than a week later to film scenes solely set on Westminster Bridge. The London Fire Brigade was on set to simulate rain as well as monitor smoke used for filming. Craig, Seydoux, and Waltz as well as Harris and Fiennes were seen being filmed. Prior to this, scenes involving Fiennes were shot at a restaurant in Covent Garden. Filming then took place in Trafalgar Square. In early June, the crew, as well as Craig, Seydoux, and Waltz returned to the Thames for a final time to continue filming scenes previously shot on the river.

After wrapping up in England, Production travelled to Morocco in June, with filming taking place in Oujda, Tangier and Erfoud after preliminary work was completed by the production's second unit. Principal photography concluded on July 5th 2015. Filming took 128 days.

Thomas Newman returned as Spectre's composer. Rather than composing the score once the film had moved into post-production, Newman worked during filming. The theatrical trailer released in July 2015 contained a rendition of John Barry's On Her Majesty's Secret Service theme. Mendes revealed that the final film would have more than one hundred minutes of music. The soundtrack album was released on October 23rd 2015 in UK and November 6th 2015 in USA under the label of Decca Records.

In September 2015 it was announced that Sam Smith and regular collaborator Jimmy Napes had written the film's title theme, "Writing's on the Wall", with Smith performing it for the film. Smith said the song came together in one session and that he and collaborator Napes wrote it in under half an hour before recording a demo. Satisfied with the quality, that demo was used in the final release.

The song was released as a digital download on September 25th 2015. Upon its release it received mixed reviews from critics and fans, particularly in comparison to Adele's "Skyfall". Despite that, in the United Kingdom, "Writing's on the Wall" became the first James Bond theme to reach number one. The previous highest-charting Bond themes were Adele's "Skyfall" and Duran Duran's "A View to a Kill", which both reached number two. It also became Smith's fifth UK number-one single within two years.

During the December 2014 press conference announcing the start of filming, Aston Martin and Eon unveiled the new DB10 as the official car for the film. The DB10 was designed in collaboration between Aston Martin and the filmmakers, with only ten being produced especially for Spectre as a celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the company's association with the franchise. After modifying the Jaguar C-X75 for the film, Williams F1 carried the 007 logo on their cars at the 2015 Mexican Grand Prix, with the team playing host to the cast and crew ahead of the Mexican premiere of the film.

To promote the film, production continued the trend established during Skyfall's production of releasing still images of clapperboards and video blogs on Eon's official social media accounts.

On March 13th 2015 several members of the cast and crew, including Craig, Whishaw, Wilson and Mendes, as well as the previous James Bond actor Sir Roger Moore appeared in a sketch written by David Walliams and the Dawson Brothers for Comic Relief's Red Nose Day on BBC One in which they film a behind-the-scenes mockumentary on the filming of Spectre. The first teaser trailer for Spectre was released worldwide in March 2015, followed by the theatrical trailer in July and the final trailer in October.

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Spectre had its world premiere in London on October 26th 2015, the same day as its general release in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland. Following the announcement of the start of filming, Paramount Pictures brought forward the release of Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation to avoid competing with Spectre. In March 2015 IMAX corporation announced that Spectre would be screened in its cinemas, following Skyfall's success with the company.

As of November 2015 Spectre has grossed $296.1 million. $63.8 million of the takings have been generated from the UK market and $73 million from North America.

Spectre has received mixed reviews from critics. Many reviewers either gave the film highly positive or highly negative feedback. Rotten Tomatoes sampled 216 reviews and judged 63% of the critiques to be positive. On Metacritic the film has a rating of 60 out of 100, based on 47 critics. In some early reviews the film received favourable comparisons with its predecessor, Skyfall and on CinemaScore, audiences gave the film an average grade of "A-" on an A+ to F scale.

Prior to its UK release, Spectre mostly received critical acclaim. Mark Kermode, writing in The Guardian, gave the film four out of five stars, observing that, "while Spectre may not be the equal of its immediate predecessor, it’s still bang on target in delivering what an audience wants from this seemingly indestructible franchise". Writing in the same publication, Peter Bradshaw gave the film a full five stars. Critical appraisal of the film was noticeably less enthusiastic in the US. In a lukewarm review for Roger Ebert.com, Matt Zoller Seitz gave the film only 2.5 stars out of 4.

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Content intended for informational and educational purposes under the GNU Free Documentation Areement
and is not affiliated with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), Eon Productions, Danjaq LLC, Ian Fleming Publications or any other official production companies. James Bond logos, content and images copyright © Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), Eon Productions, Danjaq LLC, Ian Fleming Publications, United Artists Corporation.

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