Daniel Craig and the cast and crew of the upcoming 007 film "Spectre" have transformed Mexico City's main square into an action-packed thrill ride filled with explosions, chases and a massive Day of the Dead parade that included more than a thousand extras.
A few weeks ago, the production stumbled amidst a growing scandal that allegedly involved Mexico City officials granting Sony Pictures and MGM Studio executives millions of dollars in tax incentives in exchange for altering the movie's plot and portraying Mexico in a favorable light. That wasn't accurate.
At the beginning of his term in 2012, President Enrique Peña Nieto tasked several powerful businessmen from the tourism and advertising sectors with developing a plan to improve Mexico’s image abroad.
He got a bunch of suggestions, but there was one he particularly liked: bring James Bond to Mexico.
The idea, a proposal from businessmen Miguel Aleman Magnani and Daniel Chavez Moran, was based on a simple wager: 007 films bring tourism, because "Bond cities" are exotic and sexy places where the British secret agent can relish in his refined tastes and lifestyle.
President Peña Nieto loved the proposal and commissioned his tourism minister, Claudia Ruiz Massieu, to make it happen.
It wasn’t an easy task. Mexico City found out that many other global capitals were also lobbying to become the next Bond city.
Negotiations began in 2013. Mexico's key lobbyist was Aleman Magnani, whose father, the former governor of Veracruz, was a friend of Albert R. Broccoli, the visionary, old-school producer who translated the novels by Ian Fleming to the silver screen.
Mr. Broccoli died in 1996 and his daughter, Barbara, inherited the franchise, one of the most successful and longest running in movie history. The relationship between the two families started the Bond-Mexico City conversation.
Mexico City residents try to catch a glimpse of the film set.
Daniel Craig’s double during a chase scene.
Bond films are big-screen product placement at its best. 007 sells everything from the watch, suit and glasses he wears, to the fast car he drives. It's the only film that recovers its cost before opening. And Mexico City wanted a piece of the action.
But the honor of being the next Bond City comes with a cost. The deal is simple: Mexico picks up the tab for expenses.
According to sources involved in the negotiations, if the cost of production in Mexico City exceeds the amount raised by the Mexican businessmen —the exact figure is unknown, hidden behind a contract confidentiality clause — Mexico's federal government will cover the rest.
And we won't know how much until Bond, James Bond, leaves Mexico.
Photographs by Encarni Pindado
Carlos Loret de Mola is an award winning Mexican journalist and popular news anchor of Televisa’s “Primero Noticias.” He has served as a war correspondent in Afghanistan, Haiti, Egypt, Syria and Libya and writes for a number of news outlets on issues ranging from the drug war to international politics. Carlos has broken many influential stories about the operations that led to the capture of some of Mexico’s most wanted criminals. In 2001 he wrote the book "The Deal. Mexican economy trapped by drug trafficking." He is a frustrated chef, runner and guitar troubadour… but he keeps trying.