A few months ago development on the proposed 23rd James Bond movie was halted indefinitely by EON Productions until the issue over MGM’s finances are sorted out.
Since then there’s been no further word. A report emerged first at The Daily Mail on Friday and then scored another wave of news yesterday when it reappeared at AICN. Both articles cite that all development on the project isn’t just in limbo, but rather outright “dead”.
EON however kept the specifics vague, not officially confirming said project’s cancellation but rather suggesting that there are no new wrinkles to the story – “We do not know when development will resume and cannot comment further at this stage.”
What does it all mean? Ultimately, not much has changed. Is Sam Mendes out as director? Highly likely. The MGM issue will drag on for a while and Mendes is highly unlikely to stick around.
Is the Peter Morgan script out? That’s more uncertain but does seem quite possible. In the past various Bond scripts have come close to being made, only to undergo major re-writes or find themselves replaced altogether. One of the first online movie scoops back in the mid-90’s was during development of “Tomorrow Never Dies” when the project went by the title “Shatterhand” and involved an evil Doctor using chemical weapons to stop the British handover of Hong Kong to the Chinese in 1996.
Is James Bond dead? Not a chance. The two ultimate questions now aren’t if the franchise will be back but rather when and in what form? The franchise remains one of the most lucrative in history and will easily survive MGM’s collapse as pretty much every studio would happily kill to score the distribution rights.
However as time drags on, the more likely is the chance of Daniel Craig departing or being replaced after just two films (one highly acclaimed, one… not so much). As Timothy Dalton can attest, this isn’t a franchise unfamiliar with seeing its leading man replaced before his time was up.