Bond 23: everybody’s talking except for Eon and Sam Mendes

All of a sudden, lots of people are talking about Bond 23, except for the people who’d actually supervise the making of the film: the co-boss folks of Eon Productions, Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli.

Exhibit A: David Arnold, composer of five 007 films, says in an interview on Comingsoon.net that Bond 23 is starting to gear up. Arnold told the Web site that, “We only just got the news that we’re back on. But ‘there’s many a slip twixt cup and lip’ So I will keep quiet until I get a script and then start writing ideas.’

Exhibit B: Actress Kate Winslet, in an interview with the U.K.’s Daily Mail newspaper, said she’s moving to London for a period so she and her children can be close to her estranged husband, director Sam Mendes, the presumed director of Bond 23.

Sam is doing the next Bond film, all being well, and we’ll all be in England if that happens. It’s such a massive commitment for him and it’s not fair for him to commute backwards and ­forwards to New York from ­London. It would be impossible. The children will be there with me,’ Kate told me (the Daily Mail’s Baz Bamigboye) exclusively.

Exhibit C: Peter Morgan, who earlier disclosed this year he never got around to actually writing a Bond 23 script after a few months on the project.

Let’s recap: MGM said in bankrutpcy court filings it wants Bond 23 to come out in November 2012 and future 007 films to come out on an every-other-year schedule. One Eon contract employee (Arnold) says Bond 23 is back on, though he hasn’t gotten a script yet. And the soon-to-be-ex-wife of the man reported to be Bond 23′s director says she’s moving herself and the kids so the would-be director can visit his children on a regular basis while Bond 23 is being filmed.

Still silent: Wilson and Broccoli (but that’s no surprise because they rarely talk to the press except when it’s time to promote a Bond movie) and Mendes, who’s never said himself that he’s going to be the director. Stay tuned, there’s probably more Bond 23 nonsense ahead. Once MGM actually gets out of bankrutpcy court (its reorganization plan having already been approved by the court), things will probably start popping.

UPDATE: The Deadline Web site run by Nikki Finke has gotten into the act WITH A BREATHLESSLY WORDED POST BY TIM ADLER. It starts thusly:

There’s still no official word. But I’m hearing from 007 insiders that production should start on the next James Bond movie — “Bond 23″ — towards the end of next year for release November 2012.

Deadline’s report might seem more substantial if a) MGM hadn’t already laid out the November 2012 in bankruptcy court; b) David Arnold hadn’t already said the same thing *publicly in an on-the-record interview*; and c) Kate Winslet hadn’t already spilled the beans, also in an on-the-record interview.

By the way, insiders tell us the sun will rise in the East tomorrow.

HMSS’s latest odds on spy movie projects

With recent developments, including bankruptcy filings and intriguing reports in the entertainment trade press, it’s time to revise our odds for spy movie projects in development once more.

Bond 23: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer filed for bankruptcy but is hoping it’s a quick trip and the company will shed that status next month. As part of its filings, the company said it wants to have the next Bond movie out in November 2012 and resume an every-other-year schedule after that.

For Bond fans, that’s been the best news in some time. Still, Eon Productions, which controls the other half of the Bond franchise that MGM doesn’t, hasn’t commented publicly. Eon’s hiring of screenwriter Peter Morgan apparently didn’t work out. We don’t really know how far along Bond 23 is and whether Eon could get a film ready for the time MGM envisions.

PREVIOUS ODDS: 10-1
NEW ODDS: 5-1 (mostly for uncertainty about time frame)

Mission: Impossible 4: When last we visited this subject in July, things were firming up, with Brad Bird confirmed as director and Tom Cruise returing to star. Filming is now underway and the filming of a stunt got a lot of publicity. Here’s a video by the Associated Press:

PREVIOUS ODDS: 3-2
NEW ODDS: Prohibitive. It would take an utter disaster for it not to happen. Paramount has targeted the film to premier in late 2011.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E.: In the past couple of weeks, the entertainment media has reported that Warner Bros. is negotiating with Steven Soderbergh to direct and George Clooney to star in a film version of the 1960s spy show.

At face value, that would indicate there’s some momentum building. But there also appears to be some manipulation going on. Earlier this year, there were reports that Warners was supposedly enthusiastic about a script by Max Borenstein. But under the Soderbergh-Clooney scenario, they’re starting all over on a new script. As Jerry Seinfeld said famously, “What’s up with that?”

Also, some U.N.C.L.E. fans aren’t so keen on the idea of 49-year-old Clooney playing U.N.C.L.E. ace agent Napoleon Solo. Clooney was quite fit in The American but do you want to build a multi-film franchise around him? Robert Vaughn turned 31 during filming of the U.N.C.L.E. pilot (that birthday was the same day John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas). Vaughn turned 50 during production of the 1983 TV movie The Return of the Man From U.N.C.L.E., which had Solo being coaxed out of retirement.

Until Soderberg and/or Clooney sign on the dotted line, we’re still wary.

PREVIOUS ODDS: 25-1
NEW ODDS: 15-1. Where there’s smoke, there’s (sometimes) fire.

New (serious) Matt Helm movie: There hasn’t been any news or even rumors for months. Usually, there’s at least some buzz before a project becomes reality.

PREVIOUS ODDS:10-1
NEW ODDS:15-1. This is basically a hunch admittedly, given lack of news.

More about Bond 23 delay

The Express newspaper in the U.K. ran a short item about the delay in Bond 23. Some excerpts:

Pre-production has been halted and filming postponed while the future of the Bond franchise hangs in the balance.

Michael G Wilson, who produces the Bond films with Barbara Broccoli, admitted: “We just don’t know enough about the situation to comment but we know it’s uncertain.”

The earliest a new film is likely to go into production is at the end of this year, for release in 2011, a full three years after the last Bond, Quantum Of Solace.

The reason cited, not surprisingly, is the possible sale of MGM, which owns 50 percent of the Bond franchise. The article doesn’t reveal much more but Wilson’s comment is one of the few we’ve seen to address the sitution directly.

To read the complete article just CLICK HERE. Also, to view the version of the story on the Commander Bond Web site (where we first saw it), just CLICK RIGHT HERE.

UPDATE: To view a longer article on this same subject on the MI6 Web site, just CLICK HERE.

Attempting to read the (few) Bond 23 tea leaves

Over at the Commander Bond Web site, there was a Nov. 6 article about an appearance by Daniel Craig on the “Live With Regis and Kelly Show.”

The main thrust of the article was that Craig confirmed that Bond 23, the next 007 movie, is supposed to be out in 2011. Craig talked mostly about his play A Steady Rain so there weren’t a lot of details. But the full quote as reported by Commander Bond, was a bit intriguing:

“The plan is to start shooting the next one at the end of next year so it’ll be ready for 2011. So we’ve got a lot of work to do.”

That would imply there’s about a year of pre-production work left before cameras roll. That leaves more questions than answers, including:

1) How’s the script coming along? MGM and Eon Productions said in June that Peter Morgan would join 007 veterans Neal Purvis and Robert Wade in scripting the next Bond movie. In the press release, we were told a date for the start of production is yet to be confirmed and that Morgan also scripted the upcoming The Special Relationship for HBO and Hereafter for DreamWorks. He will turn his attention to Bond 23 on completion of these duties. So at that time, it wasn’t known when Morgan would even start work on Bond 23.

2. When’s a director going to be hired? While a lot of pre-production duties may not need a director on board, there’s only so much progress that can occur. A director wants to make his or her own impact on a script before shooting starts, for example. Also, certain key personnel (such as directors of photography) tend not to be hired a director is at work.

3. Why is Daniel Craig the only person talking publicly about Bond 23 lately? Eon bossman Michael G. Wilson only goes public so often and his half-sister Barbara Broccoli even less than that. When they have talked, it has been more about possible non-Bond projects than about Bond 23.

None of this is terribly satisfying. The sports equivalent is the “hot stove league” where baseball fans talk about possible trades or keep track of developments at their favorite teams during the off season. That’s not a perfect analogy, though. Baseball fans at least know when the next season starts. Nobody really knows that much about Bond 23.

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