Bond 23 to be released Nov. 9, 2012, Eon and MGM say

Agent 007 is officially out of limbo. Bond 23 has a Nov. 9, 2012 release date and production of the movie will start late this year, Eon Productions and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. said in an e-mailed release on Jan. 11.

The production company and studio, the latter fresh out of bankruptcy court, confirmed Daniel Craig is returning and Sam Mendes is directing. One tidbit of news: the script will be by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and John Logan.

Logan hadn’t been mentioned previously. Eon’s last word on the story was when it said Purvis and Wade would collaborate with Peter Morgan, but Morgan left the project without actually writing a script (while gabbing plenty about how he never really cared for the Bond character).

Logan, a 49-year-old, Chicago-born screenwriter, has credits including 2007’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street and 2000’s Gladiator.

No title was disclosed. Still, the release confirmed the obvious, especially concerning Mendes, whose ex-wife Kate Winslet had publicly confirmed the director was working on the film. Eon had suspended Bond 23 “indefinitely” last year because of MGM’s financial ills, which climaxed with with its trip to bankruptcy court where creditors exchanged debt for equity in the studio.

MGM also tipped its hand in bankruptcy court filings that it wanted Bond 23 to come out in November 2012. It remains whether the other part of the studio’s 007 plan — that Bond movies resume coming out every other year — comes to pass.

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.

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:

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.

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.

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

Bond 23 by the numbers

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer says in its bankruptcy filing it wants to get Bond 23 out by November 2012 and get the film series back on an every-other-year schedule. It remains to be seen if that happens, but here are some statistics to keep in mind if it does.

5: The longest period (in years) the current Eon productions regime of Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli was able to maintain an every-other-year schedule. That occurred from 1994 (when they cast Pierce Brosnan as James Bond in GoldenEye, kick-starting pre-production of the 17th 007 film) to 1999 (when The World Is Not Enough hit theaters).

11: How long it has been (in years) since the longest period Broccoli and Wilson maintained an every-other-year schedule. By 2012, it will have been 13 years. Either way, it has been a long time.

2: Number of confirmed times that Wilson has talked about how tiring it is to produce a James Bond movie. He’s now 67, a year younger that his stepfather, Albert R. Broccoli, was when The Spy Who Loved Me came out in theaters in the summer of 1977. Cubby Broccoli produced another half-dozen Bond movies through 1989’s Licence to Kill. His last credit was as presenter of 1995’s GoldenEye, but he had no producer credit.

14: Number of years since Licence to Kill that the Bond film series will have been in some kind of hiatus ASSUMING Bond 23 actually comes out in 2012. This is comprised of 1989-1995 (lapse between Licence and GoldenEye), 2002-2006 (lapse between Die Another Day and Casino Royale, when Wilson and Broccoli pondered and pondered and pondered revamping the series) and 2008-2012 (time between Quantum of Solace and Bond 23 when MGM, half owner of the 007 franchise, fell into a financial crisis).

61: Percentage of the 23 years between Licence to Kill and Bond 23 (again, assuming Bond 23 comes out in 2012) that the Bond series has been in some kind of production hiatus.

29: Number of days that MGM would be in bankruptcy court if the company gets final approval of its reorganization plan at a hearing scheduled in bankruptcy court scheduled for Dec. 2.

7: The number (in years) of the Daniel Craig era of Bond movies, starting in 2005 (when he was cast) to 2012, assuming Bond 23 comes out with him as 007.

The only longer eras (in years) for the Eon-produced series:

–The Sean Connery era of 10 years (his 1961 casting through 1971’s Diamonds Are Forever,, overlooking a one-film gap).

–Roger Moore’s 13 years (his 1972 casting through 1985’s A View To a Kill)

–Pierce Brosnan’s 8 years (1994 casting through 2002’s Die Another Day).

Of course, Craig will have only done three films in his era (once again assuming he stars in Bond 23 and it comes out in 2012). Brosnan squeezed in four films. Then again, he was also 007 during the longest period that the Wilson-Broccoli duo was able to maintain an every-other-year schedule. Of course, he was also 007 when Wilson complained about being tired following The World Is Not Enough, which took the films off an every-other-year schedule.

MGM watch: MGM files for bankruptcy, says it wants to jumpstart the 007 series

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Nov. 3. The home studio of James Bond (and half-owner of the 007 film franchise) made its filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York City. The filing also indicates that jumpstarting the now-dormant 007 film series is a priority.

Here’s part of a story by

New James Bond films may be released every second year starting in November 2012, MGM said. It aims to own 50 percent of Bond 23, due out that year, with an equal partner paying all of the production costs, it said. Later Bond movies would be wholly owned and funded by MGM, the company said.

MGM is going to bankruptcy court to wipe out almost $4 billion in debt. The studio’s financial uncertainty prompted Eon Productions, which controls the other half of the franchise, to suspend development of Bond 23. MGM’s filing is the first time any entity involved in the matter has provided any kind of timetable for Bond’s return to the screen following 2008’s Quantum of Solace.

Under the revamping plan, Spyglass Entertainment co-founders Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum will take command of MGM, which will only produce films and TV shows and cut distribution deals with other studios. While most productions will be modest, MGM would produce a few large films such as Bond 23 and The Hobbit. Eon’s boss people, Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, haven’t spoken publicly about the Spyglass plan.

The studio’s statement on the filing tried to sound reassuring and said it’s anticipating the journey through bankruptcy court will be short:

MGM has sufficient cash on hand, and the consent of its lenders to use this cash, to fund normal business operations throughout the Chapter 11 process. MGM has filed “first-day” motions seeking immediate Court approval to continue paying its employees, vendors, participants, guilds and licensors in the ordinary course of business during the entire Chapter 11 process, for both pre-petition and post-petition obligations. MGM anticipates that the Plan will be confirmed by the Court in approximately 30 days.