James Bond films have always been notorious for product-placement shills, but the new one carries the practice to new heights. It also illustrates the way government film boards (state or national) are increasingly being drawn into the same every-more-costly bidding spiral as economic development agencies chase in attracting factories:
The [Mexican] government reportedly offered the makers of the upcoming “Spectre,” directed by Sam Mendes, $14 million in exchange for four minutes of the film portraying the country in a positive light.
Emails released from the Sony hack, published by tax policy website Tax Analysis, show that the studio was concerned that the film's costs had spiraled, to a gross budget of $300 million, making it one of the most expensive movies ever made. Executives pressured the filmmakers to make changes to the script that would keep the Mexican money coming in.
“You have done a great job in getting us the Mexican incentive,” wrote Jonathan Glickman, president of MGM’s motion picture group, in an email to the film’s producers. “Let’s continue to pursue whatever avenues we have available to maximize this incentive.”
To allow the studio to gain the maximum financial incentives available from the Mexican government, the email said that the producers needed to cast a "known Mexican actress" for the role of Estrella, a woman whose hotel room Bond uses to begin his hunt for an assassin named Sciarra.
The villainous Sciarra, however, "cannot be Mexican," it added.
Last week, it was announced that Mexican actress Stephanie Sigman would play the role of Estrella.
In addition, emails revealed that Mexico asked that the character of a Mexican governor, who was the target of an assassination, be replaced with an international leader, and that Mexican police be replaced with "some special police force" instead.
A further $6 million was said to have been achieved by means such as replacing a cage fighting scene with footage of Mexico's popular Day of the Dead festivities, and highlighting Mexico City's "modern" skyline, the Telegraph reported.