Sony Pictures Entertainment and MGM executives reportedly asked for creative changes to the upcoming James Bond movie, “Spectre,” in exchange for up to $20 million in incentives from Mexico — all for a sequence that would last about four minutes.
The studios were very open to requests that ranged from casting suggestions, scenery shooting and even changes in a character’s
ethnicity in order to receive the incentives from an unknown Mexican authority, according to emails leaked during the hack on Sony in December by a North Korean agency, which were obtained by tax news and analysis website taxanalysts.com.
“We are currently facing a budget that is far beyond what we anticipated and are under immense pressure to reduce the number to $250M net of rebates and incentives,” wrote Jonathan Glickman, president of MGM’s motion picture group. “This is not about ‘nickel and diming’ the production. As of now, our shooting period is $50M higher than Skyfall and the current gross budget sits in the mid $300Ms, making this one of the most expensive films ever made.”
Glickman would go on to relay what would net the James Bond movie about $20 million in incentives from a memo entitled “Elements needed to preserve Mexican deal.”
At the time, the production had already allegedly reached a $14 million sum in incentives by:
1.) Highlighting the skyline, including aerial shots and other “modern” features of Mexico City.
2.) Casting “a known Mexican actress” in the role of Estrella, a woman whose hotel room Bond uses to start his search for an assassin named Sciarra. Note: Earlier this week, Mexican actress
3.) Not casting a Mexican actor in the role of Sciarra. Note: Italian actress Monica Belluci was cast in the role.
4.) Sciarra’s target was changed from a Mexican governor to an international ambassador.
5.) Mexican police were replaced with a special forces group.
6.) A cage match was replaced with a chase through a “Day of the Dead” festival
Glickman hoped to earn the other $6 million in incentives by further focusing on Mexico City’s modern buildings. “Let’s continue to pursue whatever avenues we have available to maximize this incentive,” he said.
Additionally, Amy Pascal, the former chair of Sony’s motion picture group, encouraged Glickman in another email. “We should insist they add whatever travelogue footage we need in Mexico to get the extra money,” she wrote.
It’s unclear which Mexican authority is providing the incentives. None of Mexico’s four film funds could realistically reach $20 million, according to the site’s experts.
A representative for Sony Pictures Entertainment declined to comment.