In a bit of shocking and unfortunate news, No Time to Die has lost its composer mere months before the film is due to be released. The 25th Bond film suffered setbacks throughout its development as Danny Boyle was originally onboard to direct based on an original idea he hatched with John Hodge, only for the duo to exit over creative differences a few months before filming was due to begin. The film’s producers went back to the drawing board and enlisted Cary Joji Fukunaga to take the helm, but this time with a new script that includes work by Bond veterans Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, and Fukunaga himself.
It seemed as though production went smoothly, but now Variety reports that composer Dan Romer is being replaced on the film with just three months to go before release. Romer was a frequent collaborator of Fukunaga’s having scored his film Beasts of No Nation and his Netflix series Maniac, and first made waves with his score for the Sundance indie Beasts of the Southern Wild. This Bond film was by far Romer’s biggest project to date and I was incredibly excited to hear what he’d put together, but unfortunately it sounds like we never will. Variety cites “creative differences” for his exit, though it’s hard to imagine he didn’t deliver what Fukunaga intended. My guess is his work didn’t match what veteran Bond producers Barbra Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson had in mind.
In his stead, Variety reports that veteran composer Hans Zimmer has been brought in to take over composer duties, with a score likely due to be completed by mid-February. In order to meet that insane deadline, Variety speculates that Zimmer may enlist some help from frequent collaborators like Benjamin Wallfisch—with whom he scored Blade Runner 2049—and Lorne Balfe, who recently solo composed Mission: Impossible – Fallout. In truth, Zimmer is an incredibly collaborative composer and has been frank about the fact that he works with a team of musicians on many of his scores, but he’s gonna need all the help he can get to write the score for a new Bond movie in basically a month and a half.
This isn’t unprecedented. After Alexandre Desplat opted to depart Rogue One when reshoots necessitated a new score, Michael Giacchino was hired with only four and a half weeks to compose a brand new Star Wars score. The result wasn’t bad, but there’s only so much one can do with so little time.
As a result, I wouldn’t necessarily expect something mind-blowing from Zimmer on No Time to Die. More likely the producers are merely looking for something serviceable enough, to which I say why not just keep Romer’s score? Can it really be that bad? Surely it’s not worse than Thomas Newman’s ho-hum work on Spectre, right?
Zimmer is great when he has time to experiment and craft something truly unique, like with Interstellar or Blade Runner 2049 or Man of Steel, but that’s not the case with No Time to Die so it’ll be interesting to see how this turns out. It’s not like he’s sitting idly by—Zimmer has his hands full in 2020 with the scores for Wonder Woman 1984, Top Gun: Maverick, Dune, and The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run, and he’s also on tap to score Space Jam 2.
As for Romer, we at least get a new score from him in the form of Wendy, the highly anticipated second feature from Beasts of the Southern Wild filmmaker (and Oscar nominee!) Benh Zeitlin.
No Time to Die serves as Daniel Craig’s final turn as James Bond and hits UK theaters on April 2nd and US theaters on April 10th.