Could 007 be forced to economize in Bond 23?

Now that Bond 23 has a release date of November 2012, the entertainment media is seeking details. The Hollywood Reporter’s Web site has a story saying Paramount be the leading contender to cut a deal with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer to release the film. But down deep in the story is something else that caught our eye:

The next Bond film — tentatively called Bond 23, to be directed by Sam Mendes and starring (Daniel) Craig — will likely cost less than $150 million. It is not clear whether MGM will finance all or part of the film, though one source with ties to Paramount believes MGM would like to finance the film and cover marketing costs. Obviously that could be one of many points of negotiation.

This is interesting because the most recent Bond entry, 2008’s Quantum of Solace, cost a reported $230 million, according to the Numbers.com Web site. A $150 million budget, while ample, would represent a substantial reduction.

That wouldn’t be all bad. Many fans, including a number of HMSS reviewers felt Quantum of Solace didn’t match the quality of 2006’s Casino Royale, which skimped by (relatively speaking) on a $102 million budget (Numbers.com’s estimate). If the $230 million figure for Quantum is correct, it’s hard to see where the money went. It wasn’t for production values, editing or the script.

Now, we approach the Hollywood Reporter report with some caution concerning Bond 23’s budget. The trade publication doesn’t specify where it came up with the “less than $150 million” figure, or if it’s based on actual reporting of it’s an educated guess. It’s not even attributed to “sources.” Still, given that MGM just got out of bankruptcy, it makes sense that Bond 23 would be a more a more thrifty production than Quantum of Solace. And you can still make a good movie for $150 million and spending $230 million isn’t a guarantee of success.

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