007 questions now that MGM is out of bankruptcy

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer exited bankruptcy on Dec. 20 in a slimmer form. So what better time for 007 questions about how the development affects the future of the 007 film franchise?

001. Is Daniel Craig coming back as James Bond? We know Craig has said he wants to return. In fact, he has said it more than once. We know he’s a favorite of the co-boss of Eon Productions, Barbara Broccoli, who has been quoted as saying Craig is the best Bond ever. With MGM’s financial plight this year, Eon has been mum on virtually everything. The answer may be an easy one but the answer still hasn’t really been given.

002. Is Sam Mendes really going to direct Bond 23? Mendes’s ex-wife, Kate Winslet, says he is, even the point she’s going to move to London so the director can see his kids during filming. But Mendes himself in a Wall Street Journal called such talk “speculation” even after his publicist confirmed the story. Again, the answer may be an easy one, but the time has come for a little candor.

003. Who’s going to write Bond 23? The grand experiment of hiring prestigious screenwriter Peter Morgan was a washout, mostly for reasons that had nothing to do with MGM’s financial plight. Eon announced Morgan’s hiring months before he actually got around to writing anything. In subsequent interviews, he has said he’s happy to have washed his hands of the project and was never that enthusiastic about Bond in the first place. Do Neal Purvis and Robert Wade press on (the Eon press release said Morgan, Purvis and Wade would write Bond 23)? Have the Wade-Purvis duo done any work? Or is somebody else going to get hired?

004. Who is MGM going to help finance and distribute Bond 23? MGM, in its bankruptcy filing said it planned to see a partner to co-finance Bond 23. Who’s it going to be? Also, MGM’s plan is to exit distribution and be primarily a maker of TV shows and movies. What studio ends up distributing Bond 23? Sony Corp.’s Columbia Pictures brand distributed Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. Does Columbia pull a repeat? Or does somebody else step in?

005. Can Eon Productions actually make Bond 23 for a November 2012 release date? In the MGM bankruptcy filing, the studio said it wants Bond 23 out in November 2012. MGM, though, needs Eon Productions to actually make the movie. Do the problems with the Bond 23 script process demonstrate broader problems at Eon? Or was that a bit of bad luck?

006. Can Eon Productions actually produce 007 movies on an bi-annual basis? MGM’s bankruptcy filing said it also wants Bond movies to come out on a regular, every-other-year schedule. Is Eon capable of that? Assuming Bond 23 comes out in November 2012, the Bond franchise will have been in hiatus for more years than not between 1989’s Licence to Kill and Bond 23. Barbara Broccoli and half-brother Michael G. Wilson seem to have trouble keeping up the pace of Eon co-founder Albert R. Broccoli.

007. When can we get answers to the other questions? Eon has stayed quiet because a) that’s how it operates and b) the MGM financial situation. But it has been so quiet, it’s beginning to look ridiculous. When the director’s (excuse us, would-be director’s) ex-wife provides more information, Eon loses control of the message. That’s Public Relations 101. Maybe shortly after the first of the year, Eon can start trying to get back that control with a little basic information.

UPDATE: Variety in a story it has about MGM, has this nugget:

MGM has been working up plans for a 2012 yearlong commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the first Bond pic, 1962’s “Doctor No,” so the studio will probably move as quickly as possible to lock down Craig and to secure a director. Sam Mendes has long been rumored to be the leading candidate to helm.

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2 Responses

  1. There’s also the question of how the prior commitments of Mendes and Craig (a touring production of Richard III; the sequel to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) will factor into Bond 23’s production.

    It seems strange that EON would film Bond 23 in late 2011, then leave it on the shelf for an entire year. Yet that’s apparently the timetable Mendes and Craig would have to follow.

    As you suggested, could EON even get a script ready in time for a late 2011 start date? They wasted a lot of time on Paul Haggis’ script for Quantum of Solace, only to throw it out at the last minute. Then there was the Peter Morgan misfire.

    One other thing worth pondering is that a return to a bi-annual basis would likely mean a return to a more formulaic, cookie-cutter approach. I just can’t see Craig sticking around if that’s the case.

  2. On the other hand, Eon made Dr. through Thunderball on an *annual* production schedule. Yes, that was a different era AND they were working from actual Ian Fleming stories (more than IF in the case of Thunderball, of course). Still, in the cases of those four films, tight deadlines seemed to have brought out the best of those concerned.

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