With just over two years until the premiere, nobody seems to know who will be composing the score for the next Bond film. The music is a key ingredient in the James Bond world – it is crucial for setting the tone and providing atmosphere whenever necessary. What would Goldfinger be without Barry’s trademarked brass sound? What would You Only Live Twice be without the 007 Theme blasting during the helicopter sequence? And what would Vesper be without her beautiful theme placed delicately alongside her in Casino Royale (2006)? Indeed, the accompanying scores are monumental in how we digest the finished product. One bad track and it can ruin a moment. One excellent track and it can propel a scene to unimaginable heights. So, who should be the next one in line to face this important task?
David Arnold was the composer of five consecutive Bond movies, from Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) to Quantum of Solace (2008). He was the top pick for maestro John Barry after the producers dropped Serra. One thing is certain: Arnold did not disappoint. Casino Royale’s score is a triumph for the modern era. He wove Cornell’s theme song into the fabric of the film and created glorious melodies in the process. The tracks African Rundown and Miami International are excellent examples of how to make action scores without relying on the James Bond Theme, which was often done in the past. That’s not to say he never used it – in his Brosnan years he practically had it going off in every set-piece! Furthermore, he was smart enough to only use it sparingly in CR to show that ‘Bond’ still had to become the Bond we knew. Arnold recently played the entire score at a live screening and further expressed his love for the Bond music and the films. It’s common knowledge that he’d like to do another Bond film at one point or another. The only reason he was dropped was because of Mendes’ stubbornness for Skyfall (2012).
Which brings us to Newman. He also composed the music for SPECTRE (2015), which was unfortunately all too similar to his previous effort and that’s putting it mildly! Anyway, he showed us in SF that he had the talent for the job by sticking to his tried-and-tested melodies during the quieter moments of the film. Solange’s theme is memorable and who doesn’t enjoy the music when Eve visits Bond in Macau? Newman hasn’t yet talked about Bond 25 in any interviews and with Mendes seemingly leaving the director’s chair, it looks like his chances might be slipping. The Broccolis haven’t talked about reinstating him, nor did they give their opinion on his second score. If they think that he didn’t do a good enough job for SPECTRE, then it wouldn’t be surprising to see them let him go, like Serra back in the 90s after Goldeneye.
Having said that, the Broccolis might want a fresh composer irrespective of the next director’s wishes, or even if they liked SP’s score. Talents such as: Giacchino (Rogue One), Hans Zimmer (The Dark Knight) and even John Williams (Star Wars) are possible choices for Bond 25. The positive aspect of choosing a ‘branded composer’ is that any director would be pleased to work with them, so the producers wouldn’t need to worry. The great thing about Giacchino is that he has experience with taking on a long-established franchise and reinventing the sound for the next generation. This is what Bond (always) needs: someone who can take from the past and also add their own mark to make it beautifully unique.
At the end of the day, the Broccolis have an abundance of choices when it comes down to the music. They can either choose a Bond newcomer, or play it safe and bring back Newman once again. We’ll have already been told who the next composer is by the beginning of 2019 for sure. A likely date would be whenever the producers launch their press-announcement, right before production starts.