Finke says Mendes may be Bond 23 ‘consultant,’ as prelude to directing

If Nikki Finke’s Deadline Hollywood blog is correct, Bond 23’s behind the scenes story may have even more intrigue than whatever film eventually comes out.

Here’s the setup from Deadline Hollywood’s report on Bond 23. It references Eon Productions, which makes the Bond films, and MGM, the studio that finances and releases them.

(O)nce EON hires a director on their Bond films, it triggers a first payment from MGM. Well, given that MGM is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, and EON may have the right to take Bond elsewhere, it stands to reason that the producers wouldn’t want to do anything right away that furthers ownership of Bond #23.

So, Finke reports that people familar with the situation are saying that Eon currently is talking to director Sam Mendes abot signing on as a consultant (which wouldn’t trigger the payment) at this time, with the notion of making him Bond 23’s director later.

“The producers are working on a deal to bring Sam on as consultant with an eye to direct,” one of my insiders says. “Once they put him on as the director, something happens to the contract in terms of ownership. But let me emphasize there’s not any deal done.”

Finke also says that current 007 Daniel Craig “is ‘insisting’ on Mendes’ hiring because the actor was stung by criticism of the last Bond film. (And Sam directed Daniel in Road To Perdition.)”

Finke has a reputation as a tough journalist on the Hollywood beat so her report is more than worth noting.

UPDATE: The story has been confirmed, at least in part, by Mendes’ publicist in a story at The Guardian’s Web site. An excerpt:

Sara Keene, Mendes’s British publicist, confirmed today that the director, who won an Academy Award for his first movie, American Beauty, in 1999, had met representatives of the Bond franchise to discuss the 23rd film in the series, but said nothing had been finalised.

“I can confirm that he has had a meeting, but Sam always has lots of projects on the table that he might direct next,” Keene said. “Sam’s method is to have a number of projects as possible next films and at some point to confirm which film he’s going to do.”