Sam Mendes’ Hamlet moment

Sam Mendes

Sam Mendes

To direct Bond 24 or not to direct
That is the question.
Whether ’tis nobler to stay with the stage,
Or to have my cake and eat it, too

–With apologies to William Shakespeare

When Sam Mendes, the director of Skyfall, said he couldn’t direct Bond 24, one of the reasons he cited were stage commitments, including a new production of King Lear. But if A MAY 28 REPORT ON THE DEADLINE ENTERTAINMENT WEB SITE is correct, Mendes will likely direct the next 007 film anyway. It’s as if Mendes were channeling a different Shakespeare character: Hamlet.

Deadline had a number of scoops about Skyfall — including that Mendes was in talks to direct the film — that turned out to be true. So did Baz Bagimboye of the U.K. newspaper the Daily Mail who found himself chasing the U.S. entertainment Web site. In THIS STORY, Bagimboye wrote:

Just two weeks ago I was told Bond producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G Wilson were in preliminary talks with Batman film-maker Chris Nolan. They well may have talked but he’s not doing it. Mendes is.

The situation now is that the Bond family has told Mendes they will wait until all his theatre projects are out of the way and then he can commit to Bond 24 full-time. Mendes, unofficially, has agreed.
I was told Mendes was back in talks just as my friends at Deadline Hollywood broke the news tonight.

Sources close to the 007 production confirmed to me tonight that ‘talks have re-opened’ with Mendes to make the next Bond picture.

As a result, it’s hard to pass all this off as mere rumor — especially after Barabra Broccoli DENIED THAT JOHN LOGAN HAD BEEN HIRED TO WRITE BOND 24 AND BOND 25 while Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer CEO Gary Barber CONFIRMED DAYS LATER THAT LOGAN HAD BEEN HIRED. Various news accounts WERE PROVEN TO BE TRUE despite denials.

Assuming Mendes is in talks to helm Bond 24, what changed? Maybe less than meets the eye. Broccoli and Wilson, in interviews, have consistently said they had wished Mendes would do an encore. Mendes? Despite saying of directing Bond 24 that, “The idea made me physically ill,” it’s hard to walk away when you’ve had a critical *and* box office success. It’s especially hard to walk away when you’ve gotten much of the credit.

What’s more, it would appear if Mendes actually signs a contract to direct Bond 24, he won’t begin until all of his stage commitments have been met. That likely means Bond 24 won’t come out until 2015 at the very earliest, perhaps 2016 given all the elaborate pre-production work. Skyfall was formally announced in January 2011 and didn’t start filming until 10 months later. Seven more months of filming followed.

Meanwhile, if you could do all the stage work you wanted *and* the producers and studios would wait on you, what would you do? Have your cake and eat it, too, indeed. The Guardian, another U.K. newspaper, proclaimed, Eon Productions…is absolutely right to wait for British director Sam Mendes to return for a second film in the wake of his spectacularly successful Skyfall last year.

For Sam Mendes, his Hamlet moment may pay off rather handsomely.