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The sight of an Aston Martin in hot pursuit by a car wielding a video camera strapped to a crane is the sort of eye-catching spectacle likely to force a few cameraphones out of pockets. And if this chase is happening somewhere in Italy, chances are whatever amateur footage is captured could well offer an early, grainy glimpse of an action sequence from the upcoming James Bond film.
Like many of its predecessors, the shoot for Bond 25 — now officially entitled No Time To Die — descended upon Italy last month, namely the historical southern city of Matera, where 007’s classic, silver Aston Martin DB5 was seen screeching around the cobbled streets and squares.
The open-air and hard-to-ignore shoot was caught by several members of the public, with the various bits of film — complete with motorized splutterings and roars — uploaded to social media and picked up by a number of dedicated James Bond blogs. So far, so normal for one of the most iconic film franchises on the planet and one with a very active online community of fans.
This time, however, many clips were swiftly deleted.
In the days after they had appeared, Twitter removed a sizable amount of videos on its platform of the Matera car chase, all using #NoTimeToDie hashtag, following a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown request — essentially an online copyright infringement accusation for those who don’t want the faff of a lawsuit — from a specialist Lithuania-based company called MarkMonitor, hired by Bond financier and U.S. distributor MGM. The videos were deleted from a number of different Twitter accounts, with one seeing as many as 20 removed.
In an email seen by The Hollywood Reporter, the DMCA takedown request argued that each bit of footage had been “unauthorized behind scenes.”
Much like the shoot itself, the move has not gone unnoticed.
Several Bond commentators point to the obvious fact that the removed footage was taken in public, and not sneakily shot from inside a studio or closed set, thus going against the “authorized behind scenes” accusations.
“It’s totally bogus. You can’t shoot a film in a tourist hotspot in the middle of summer on public roads when everyone has a camera in their pocket and expect stuff not to get,” says one.
James Bond Live, one of the best known 007 sites, described the DMCA claims as “patently false and an abuse of the legislation,” in a tweet. Another site, The James Bond Dossier, noted that the “images are not MGM copyright and they don’t own Matera. So [MGM] are way out of line.”
Bloggers have also pointed out that such a “heavy-handed” approach is not one that has been deployed on previous Bonds, even those also being shot in the era of social media and camera-equipped cell phones.
“My theory is someone has overreacted somewhere at MGM,” says 007 expert Bill Koenig, who runs the Spy Command spy blog. “But by doing this, they’re drawing attention to the videos.”
Koenig suggests that MGM is “more spooked” than they’ve let on about a movie that has already suffered more than one push-back on its release date, a change in director, an accident on set at Pinewood and a seemingly endless deluge of bad press from the British tabloids. “So maybe they’re overly sensitive about the amateur videos.”
MGM wouldn’t comment on the video takedowns, but anyone feeling like they’ve missed out by not seeing any mobile phone-shot footage of the Matera car chase doesn’t have to look too far to get their dose of spoiler before No Time To Die releases in April 2020.
Perhaps highlighting varying online policies and complaints procedures, many of the same clips — and some even more detailed — are still very much available on YouTube.
See a video below.
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