LONDON – The next James Bond film has a retro title that evokes the series’ past: “SPECTRE” – the dastardly fictional terrorist organization featured in “Dr. No” and other early 007 adventures.
Director Sam Mendes announced the name of the 24th official Bond movie Thursday at Pinewood Studios near London, along with the identity of several new cast members and a new version of Bond’s iconic Aston Martin car.
Academy Award-winning Austrian actor Christoph Waltz and wrestling star David Bautista are joining the cast, while Andrew Scott – master criminal Moriarty in BBC series “Sherlock” – will play a British spy. Monica Bellucci and Lea Seydoux are the new “Bond girls.”
Daniel Craig will play the suave spy for a fourth time and Mendes returns as director after 2012’s “Skyfall.” Other returning cast members include Ralph Fiennes as spy chief M, Ben Whishaw as gadget-master Q and Naomi Harris as secretary Miss Moneypenny.
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Producers said the next film centers on “a cryptic message from Bond’s past (that) sends him on a trail to uncover a sinister organization.”
SPECTRE – Special Executive for Counterintelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion – was the terrorist organization headed by Ernst Blofeld that featured in several early Bond films.
Waltz, an Oscar winner for “Inglourious Basterds” and “Django Unchained,” said his character is called Oberhauser – but fans hope he is really Blofeld, one of the most enduring Bond villains.
The cat-stroking evildoer, played by actors including Donald Pleasence and Charles Gray, has not appeared for several decades because of a legal dispute over rights to the character. The case was settled last year.
Mendes also revealed that Bond will drive an Aston Martin DB10, replacing the vintage DB5 that was spectacularly destroyed in “Skyfall.”
Initial fan reaction to the latest details was enthusiastic.
“For Bond fans, this is the best Christmas present – the return of James Bond and classic elements of the series with yet another classic title coined by Ian Fleming,” said Ajay Chowdhury, who edits the journal of the James Bond International Fan Club.
Principal photography on the new film begins Monday. Filming will take place at Pinewood Studios and on location in Italy, Morocco, Mexico and Austria. “SPECTRE” is due for release late next year.
“Skyfall” was the most successful Bond film yet, taking more than $1.1 billion.