He's known for dodging bullets and scraping through an unrelenting series of challenges and obstacles, but James Bond is struggling to make it though his newest mission unscathed.
Bond 25, the working title for the latest instalment in the renowned film franchise, has hit a number of roadblocks in its ongoing development, leaving viewers wondering when – or even if – they'll see the world's most famous Secret Service man on screen again.
The British MI6 agent, code-named 007, was due to return in November of this year, but the 25th film of the series has had its release date continuously pushed back, with production plagued by endless delays.
Here's a guide to what's been stalling the spy's return.
Will he, won't he?
Daniel Craig, who's portrayed the ruthless agent since 2006's Casino Royale, might now be confirmed to reprise his role in Bond 25, but that wasn't always the case. Back in 2015, just after the release of Spectre, the British actor told a reporter he'd rather "slash my wrists" than play 007 again.
"We’re done. All I want to do is move on," Craig added. "If I did another Bond movie, it would only be for the money.” And it appeared money did the talking, though the star only confirmed in August 2017 that he would pick up his Walther PPK once more. It's not been confirmed by executives quite how long it took to court Craig, but it appears to have been a work in progress for producers in the early stages of development.
The man behind the lens
With Sam Mendes passing on the mantle after Skyfall and Spectre, the hunt was on for a new director. Despite myriad names bandied about throughout 2017, in 2018 Trainspotting maestro Danny Boyle was announced as the man for Bond 25, with filming due to kick off in December. However, citing creative differences, the director stepped down last August, leaving producers scrabbling once more for a safe pair of hands. A month later Cary Joji Fukunaga was confirmed to be taking the reins, becoming the first American director to helm a Bond film in the franchise's on-screen history. The change also saw the announcement of a new filming start date – April 2019.
A slip of the pen
A substitution in directors also heralded a shift in writers working on the script, a tale that has now passed through many hands. First it was Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, the co-writing duo behind six previous Bond films, entrusted with developing the 25th movie, but Boyle brought Scottish screenwriter John Hodge on board when he was appointed as director.
Boyle's subsequent departure saw Purvis and Wade return, with Casino Royale's pen-man Paul Haggis drafted in to rework the script in November 2018. Contagion's Scott Z Burn was also tasked with putting his spin on the story in February, while Craig himself drafted in Fleabag star Phoebe Waller-Bridge to add her finishing touches in April. The writer, who was also behind season one of hit TV drama Killing Eve, is rumoured to have added some of her signature wit to the tale, so expect a few more laughs this time around.
Filming put on ice
After extensive delays, principal photography eventually kicked on in Jamaica in April (at the same time a press conference was held to reveal Oscar winner Rami Malek, among other stars, would be joining the cast). However, filming didn't get off to a smooth star, with 51-year-old Craig injured on set just a few weeks later. The actor hurt his ankle while running in a scene, with filming halted for a fortnight as he underwent surgery and recovery.
An incendiary interruption
Just weeks after Craig's injury halted filming, another incident closed down production at London's Pinewood Studios. A scene featuring a so-called "controlled explosion" seemingly got out of hand, with the stunt leaving a crew member needing minor medical treatment and a stage damaged. "There were no injuries on set, however one crew member outside the stage has sustained a minor injury," a tweet from the official James Bond account revealed.
The latest set-back to hamper Bond 25 has been a difficulty in aligning calendars for the film's stars. The delay caused by Craig's injury has, according to reports, creating a logistical nightmare when it comes to filming with Malek, who will play the antagonist.
"Filming was supposed to finish in September but the cast and crew have been told it's been pushed back to late October, possible early November due to Daniel's injury and the set explosion," a source told The Sun. "You can't have a Bond film where 007 doesn't come face to face with the villain." A little schedule twiddling to ensure Malek and Craig can film together has created a further delay in production, rumours suggest.