According to Variety, as word circulated along the Croisette that the next James Bond pic is in advanced talks to move from its historic U.K. production base at Pinewood to Prague's Barrandov Studios, it became clear that Casino Royale won't be ready to start shooting until early 2006.
As recently as a few days ago, Bond's producers were understood to be still juggling their options between Barrandov, Ciudad de la Luz in Alicante, Spain and South Africa, with a view to start pre-production this summer.
Several sources close to the production said Pinewood was no longer part of the equation.
An Eon rep in London was tight-lipped about the move to Barrandov, commenting, "We haven't confirmed any of our locations for Casino Royale. We're awaiting our director Martin Campbell, who should come aboard in June, and we hope to start shooting in January 2006, although there's no definitive date."
The production community in Prague is reportedly gearing up for Bond's arrival.
Reports of Bond's defection have sent shockwaves through a U.K. film industry still reeling from Paramount's decision to pull Watchmen from Pinewood.
But British sources counseled caution. "If you're producing a film on the scale of Bond, you book space at studios all over the place -- Pinewood, Barrandov, Spain. That doesn't mean the decision has been made where it will shoot," said one insider.