Strong suggestions came the other week that "Skyfall" director Sam Mendes would be back at the helm of the next James Bond film.
Today, however, Empire has spoken with Mendes who confirmed that he has decided NOT to return for the upcoming twenty-fourth 007 feature. In an official statement, Mendes says:
"It has been a very difficult decision not to accept Michael and Barbara's very generous offer to direct the next Bond movie.
Directing Skyfall was one of the best experiences of my professional life, but I have theatre and other commitments, including productions of Charlie And The Chocolate Factory and King Lear, that need my complete focus over the next year and beyond.
I feel very honoured to have been part of the Bond family, and very much hope I have a chance to work with them again sometime in the future."
Producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli have also issued an official response, saying:
"We thoroughly enjoyed working with Sam, he directed our most successful Bond movie ever, Skyfall. We would have loved to have made the next film with him but completely respect his decision to focus on other projects and hope to have the opportunity to collaborate with him again."
"Skyfall" recently crossed the $1.1 billion worldwide box-office mark and currently stands as the seventh highest grossing film of all time worldwide. The next film is said to be aiming to begin production by the end of the year in readiness for a late 2014 release.