Cary Fukunaga poses for a portrait in West Hollywood, California October 13, 2015. Image Credit: REUTERS

Filmmaker Cary Joji Fukunaga will become the first American to direct a James Bond movie, its producers announced Thursday, replacing British director Danny Boyle for the storied spy franchise’s 25th instalment.

Fukunaga, a surprise pick not among the names touted to direct Daniel Craig in his final outing as 007, takes over after Boyle quit the project last month over “creative differences” with the producing team.

The movie will begin filming in March ahead of its worldwide release on February 14, 2020.

“We are delighted to be working with Cary,” Michael G Wilson, Barbara Broccoli and Craig announced on Twitter.

“His versatility and innovation make him an excellent choice for our next James Bond adventure.”

Fukunaga is best known for directing the first season of the Emmy Award-winning series True Detective and Netflix’s first feature film Beasts of No Nation starring British actor Idris Elba — long tipped as a future 007.

The director partnered with the streaming service again on Maniac, a hotly anticipated 10-episode series releasing on September 21.

‘Suspension of disbelief’ -

Raised in California by a Japanese-American father and Swedish-American mother, Fukunaga first gained recognition for the 2009 Spanish language film Sin Nombre, which depicted the violent world of Central American gangs — and an obsessive attention to detail that he has since become known for.

“Anytime something is slightly uncanny or just not quite right, it could potentially disturb suspension of disbelief,” he told The New York Times for a profile this month.

His unexpected appointment follows the surprise departure of Boyle, who won an Academy Award in 2009 for Slumdog Millionaire and had been due to partner again with screenwriter John Hodge on the new 007 movie.

Boyle — a longtime franchise fan who included Craig’s Bond in the opening ceremony he directed for the 2012 London Olympics — left the project dramatically in August, with the producing team citing “creative differences”.

The decision, at the start of the casting process, appears to have delayed the as yet untitled film, which was originally planned for release in Britain on October 25, 2019.

It will now begin filming at Pinewood Studios near London on March 4 ahead of its release in early 2020.

Fukunaga will be directing Craig in his fifth appearance as the legendary British spy having previously starred in Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, Skyfall and Spectre.

The actor famously complained in 2015 he would rather slash his wrists than play the character again, but later attributed the remarks to fatigue following a gruelling shoot and confirmed his return for a final time last year.