Thomas Newman Replaces David Arnold As Composer For Bond Film 'Skyfall'

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by Drew Taylor
January 4, 2012 3:44 PM
10 Comments
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Well, he had a good run but longtime James Bond composer David Arnold, who has scored every 007 outing since 1997's "Tomorrow Never Dies," is being switched out for this year's "Skyfall," according to James Bond news site MI-6. Director Sam Mendes has swapped him for his longtime collaborator Thomas Newman, who has scored all of Mendes' films except 2009's regrettable "Away We Go."

While this might not seem like a big deal, it is, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, Arnold has done much to develop the "sound" of the new Bond series, bridging the more whimsical Pierce Brosnan films with the grittier Daniel Craig entries through percussive, thrilling music. In fact, original James Bond composer John Barry, who composed fifteen silky scores for the super-spy (and created the iconic 007 theme), doing as much to cement the character in popular culture as Sean Connery or Ian Fleming, recommended Arnold to franchise producer Barbara Broccoli after Arnold did a 007/Barry tribute album. In short: Arnold has a musical authorship on the franchise for more than a decade. That's nothing to scoff at (before Arnold came on board, Eric Serra handled duties on Martin Campbell's Pierce Brosnan debut "GoldenEye").

The other thing to think about here is that, while Mendes is an inspired choice to do a Bond film, the films haven't exactly been known for an abundance of directorial personality, thanks mostly to the Broccolis tight grip on the property. The fact that Mendes got away with swapping out the film's composer is promising, and seems to suggest that he has more artistic control over the project than some other, more anonymous filmmakers. Thomas Newman isn't exactly a dicey choice, he's been nominated for ten Academy Awards and scored everything from "The Green Mile" to "WALL-E," it's still a move away from the status quo. While it's too early to suggest a completely personal James Bond movie, it does, along with the outstanding cast (including Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Albert Finney, Naomie Harris and Ben Whishaw) and technical team (like cinematographer Roger Deakins and writer John Logan), give us one more reason to get really jazzed about this new James Bond joint. We can't wait to hear the secret agent's new sound.

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More: David Arnold, John Barry, Skyfall

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10 Comments

  • Jooby | April 10, 2012 4:12 PMReply

    Arnold was hugely underwhelming and frankly boring. Newman's far superior in every way. Amazed Arnold wasn't junked ages ago. Just doesn't how to groove. Too much a muso luvvie.

  • Mike | January 4, 2012 11:25 PMReply

    Dislike, Newman occasionally knocks it out of the park, but David Arnold is the sound of modern Bond. Also, while I agree the the director is almost always a gun for hire on Bond films, whatever you thought of Quantum of Solace, Forster brought a ton of style, more than other Bond film.

  • reedofc | January 4, 2012 7:28 PMReply

    There was nothing regrettable about Away We Go.

  • Jet Black | January 4, 2012 6:32 PMReply

    Let's hope the approach to the intro credits music is also rethought & not just some "flavour of the month" pop artist that cannot sing. Quantum of Solace was truly embarrasing...

  • T | January 4, 2012 10:35 PM

    White and Keys did a fine job on the theme for Quantum of Solace. It was the Casino Royale theme that was bad.

  • Mark | January 4, 2012 4:10 PMReply

    Great news, Arnold's scores have been underwhelming in the extreme. Let's hope Newman can give us the first great Bond score since John Barry's final entry, The Living Daylights, back in 1987.

  • buntyhoven | January 4, 2012 4:00 PMReply

    Hmm... while it's often good to shake things up a little, I can't help but feel a bit sorry for Arnold whose last two scores in particular have been very good. Newman's a fantastic composer but I can't say any of his work particularly strikes me as Bond-like. Much more twinkly piano and less brassy bombast. But I'm sure a lot of composers would enjoy the chance to let loose with a Bond film, so hopefully we'll see him rise to the challenge. They should incorporate more of the classic Bond theme into the score this time; it's been largely absent except during the end credits recently.

  • Sohel | January 4, 2012 4:48 PM

    Give a listen to Road to Perdition and you'll hear a not so "twinkly piano" version of Newman's music.

  • Starway2001 | January 4, 2012 3:52 PMReply

    Apparently Barbara Broccoli hated Eric Serra's score so much that Arnold was brought in for several re-scores that went uncredited. Particularly the Bond theme that plays strategically through the film (most notably the tank chase in Moscow).

  • kia | January 4, 2012 4:43 PM

    it was john altman not arnold who was brought in to touch-up serra's goldeneye score

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