Reports from the Cannes Film Festival confirm that James Bond production of "Casino Royale" is heading to Prague for shooting in early 2006...

Casino Royale - May Report
17th May 2005

UPDATE - Official shooting and release dates...

As MI6 exclusively reported back in early April, production of the latest James Bond film Casino Royale is heading to Prague in the Czech Republic. The film, scheduled for release in November 17th 2006 and directed by Martin Campbell, will not be based as 007's traditional home of Pinewood Studios in the UK.

Screen Daily today confirmed from the Cannes Film Festival that Bond Producers are in advanced talks to shift production to Eastern Europe. A spokesperson for Prague's Barrandov Studios confirmed to Screen Daily that the studio is well along in talks with Eon Productions, the production outfit behind the James Bond franchise, to come to the Czech Republic.

007 has traditionally stayed in the UK wherever possible, even at the sake of incurring extra costs - a prospect which has risen dramatically with the weakness of the dollar's exchange rate with the pound. But Barrandov's marketing head Petr Polednak confirmed that the 21st film in the series could spend a significant slice of its budget in the Czech Republic.

Above: Prague's Barrandov Studios offers studio space at a lower production cost than Pinewood in England.

According to the report, other productions using Prague this year include Dino De Laurentiis' Young Hannibal: Behind The Mask and The Illusionist, starring Edward Norton. At Cannes, the Czech Film Commission launched its first production guide for overseas filmmakers. Pinewood, where Bond is traditionally based, declined to comment. Eon said that no contracts had been signed with any studio.

MI6 reported back in September 2004 that the Bond production team made scouting trips to the Czech Republic for potential locations. "Casino Royale" director Martin Campbell, whose debut 007 outing "GoldenEye" in 1995 was shot at an abandoned Rolls Royce factory at Leavesdon Aerodrome because of lack of availability at Pinewood, is set to miss out on Pinewood again. The last Bond film to head abroad for production was Timothy Dalton's final outing, "Licence To Kill" in 1989, which shot in Churubusco Studios in Mexico City for tax reasons.

Early 2006 Shooting
Meanwhile, Variety have published more details about the forthchoming production today, claiming that "Casino Royale will begin its shoot in early of 2006, rather than later this year".

The report continued, "An Eon spokesperson in London was tight-lipped about the move to Barrandov, commenting only, "we haven't confirmed any of our locations for 'Casino Royale.'" But sources close to Variety confirm the deal is done. The lead is still not cast."

According to Variety, Pavel Strnad chairman of Czech producer's association APA, could not conceal his delight: "It is great for such a high profile film to come to Prague. This makes it clear that the Czech Republic is still great value, despite current currency exchange problems. What is significant is not only are we successfully competing against countries like the U.K. and Canada, but we are successfully competing against countries in our own region which offer cost savings but do not have the quality of services and facilities to be found in Prague."

After MI6 released the news of production shifting to Prague back on April 6th, a number of 007 fansites followed up some weeks later with an air of speculation.

Although no final deals have been done, with production starting in 2006 and pre-production starting some months beforehand, a final confirmation of Prague production can not be far away.

Stay tuned to MI6 for the latest and most accurate coverage of Casino Royale

Above: 007 production will be moving to Prague for "Casino Royale".

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