Shooting of Casino Royale starts January 17th in Prague and South Africa, release planned for October 19th 2006, plus more details from producer Michael G. Wilson...

Casino Royale - Shooting & Release Dates
18th May 2005

Producer Speaks
Co-Producer Michael G. Wilson unveiled some of the key plans about the production in a Q&A session at Claremont science and engineering school at the weekend.

Wilson confirmed the start date for principal photography was January 17th 2006, with a release date planned for October 19th 2006 (which is earlier than MGM's previous statement announcing November 17th 2006).

Also confirmed were the locations - Prague and South Africa. MI6 first reported South Africa was being scouted for shooting way back in August 2003. "Diamonds Are Forever" is the only film so far to feature South Africa, in a brief sequence regarding diamond mining and smuggling at the start of the film - but 007 did not visit there himself.

In less sensational news, Wilson also confirmed that Aston Martin will be providing the car, Dame Judi Dench will be reprising her role as M, and Halle Berry will not be back (although Wilson said "I'd love to make another film with her").

Above: A new Aston Martin will join 007 in "Casino Royale" (AMV8 Vantage pictured)

Erroneous Reporting
Following trade-press reports yesterday on the news that James Bond will be heading to Prague for production of the latest adventure "Casino Royale", fan speculation about the probable release date has been sent in to a spin.

MI6 exclusively confirmed that production would be based in the Czech capital back in early April, and MGM (now "merged" with Sony) announced the target release date of the film as November 17th 2006 back in March.

But an online version of yesterday's Variety report caused confusion when a headline read that shooting of the 21st James Bond film would start in "summer 2006" - not early 2006 as expected for a Novemeber 2006 release date. This caused fans on various forums and fansites to incorrectly conclude that the release date of the film must have been delayed until summer 2007.

The full original version of the Variety piece, as printed in Cannes Daily today, clearly states a quote from Eon Productions that production is aimed for early 2006 - not the summer as misrepresented by online headlines.

An Eon Productions rep in London described the planned schedule to Variety, "We're awaiting our director Martin Campbell, who should come aboard in June, and we hope to start shooting in January 2006".

Above: Prague has been home to many films in recent years.

The production community in Prague is reportedly gearing up for Bond's arrival at Barrandov Studios.

As recently as a few days ago, producers were understood to be still juggling their options between Barrandov, Ciudad de la Luz in Alicante, Spain and South Africa, with a view to start pre-production in a few months, claims Variety.

This would put "Casino Royale" on the same timetable as the previous film, "Die Another Day", which also started filming in January for a November release.

James Bond's Defection
Reports of Bond's defection have sent shock waves through a U.K. film industry, and even triggered British government ministers into action. Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell said yesterday, "Bond films have always used exotic locations anyway, and at the moment nothing has been decided. But I have spoken to the UK Film Commissioner Steve Norris and he has assured me that everything possible is being done to ensure Bond stays a British film. That is something I would very much welcome."

But other British film sources counseled caution. "If you're producing a film on the scale of Bond, you book space at studios all over the place -- Pinewood, Barrandov, Spain. That doesn't mean the decision has been made where it will shoot," said one insider.

"Casino Royale", the 21st James Bond film, will be directed by Martin Campbell and shooting is scheduled to commence on January 17th 2006 in Prague and South Africa. No casting decisions have been made officially, including the role of 007. Stay tuned to MI6 for the latest and most accurate coverage of Casino Royale

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