MGM watch: Nikki Finke Web site says nothing new on Bond 23

Nikki Finke’s Deadline Web site says it’s way too early to say Bond 23 is dead.

A post by editor Mike Fleming says reports from the Daily Mirror (and others) this past weekend that Bond 23 has been canceled are over the top:

While Sony, Fox, and Warner Bros would love to grab the Eon Productions franchise, I’m told reliably that as long as MGM’s debt restructuring is preceded by a pre-packaged bankruptcy, Bond isn’t going anywhere.

For the uninitiated, in a pre-packaged bankruptcy, a company first obtains agreements from its lenders on restructuring its debt. The company then files for bankruptcy, but the having the agreements in hand minimizes the time in bankruptcy court.

In an update to the post, Fleming added this:

“You are absolutely right, there is no new news. Development will resume once MGM is viable again, as Danjaq can’t go anywhere without them. So all bets are off. No idea when this will get resolved,” a source integral to the Bond franchise told Deadline London editor Tim Adler today.

To read Fleming’s entire post (which also says Daniel Craig and would-be director Sam Mendes aren’t going anywhere, click the above link or JUST CLICK HERE.

Here’s also a shoutout to the Commander Bond.net Web site, which had its own summary YOU CAN READ BY CLICKING HERE. That summary, by Matt Weston, also includes a link to a related Hollywood Reporter link.

UPDATE: MGM, meanwhile, is seeking yet another extension of a moratorium on its debt payments, according to a July 7 story by Ronald Grover on Bloomberg.com:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc., the film studio up for sale after falling behind on $3.7 billion in debt, will ask lenders to extend a moratorium on interest payments, according to two people with knowledge of the situation.

The Los Angeles-based company will e-mail ballots to more than 100 creditors this week, said one of the people, who asked not to be named because discussions are private. The current forbearance expires on July 14.

You can read the entire story by CLICKING RIGHT HERE.

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ITN calls Bond 23 `cancelled’

ITN, on its Web site, has a video dated July 4 that refers to Bond 23 as being “cancelled,” saying it may be “several years” before another 007 movie hits the screen. “It’s goodbye, Mr. Bond, as time has been called on the latest installment of the 007 series,” it begins.

You can view the video by CLICKING HERE.

(July 10 modification of this post) OR: ITN uploaded the video on YouTube, so we can embed it below:

A few caveats:

ITN doesn’t cite how it learned this. The report just says “the money situation” at MGM (which isn’t named, just referred to as “the studio”) hasn’t improved so “the plug has been pulled indefinitely.”

ITN doesn’t cite a July 2 report in the U.K. newspaper Daily Mirror that kicked off this latest round of media reports saying the Bond 23 delay announced in April had become more serious. The Daily Mirror cited a “glum insider” it didn’t name. Thus, by implication, ITN is passing this off as their own reporting while not being very transparent about the details.

Finally, ITN presents no evidence it actually sought either MGM or Eon Productions out for comment before sending out the video.

In short, fans convinced this is all tabloid rubbish (as some are doing on message boads of 007 fan Web sites), probably won’t be convinced otherwise by this.

UPDATE: The Guardian newspaper in the U.K. is now getting into the act. In an entry in the newspaper’s FILM BLOG, WHICH YOU CAN READ BY CLICKING HERE, the Guardian provides pros and cons whether the 007 film series should even continue or not.

The start of that blog entry writes of Bond 23 being cancelled as a given while providing no hard information:

Bond 23 – the Sam Mendes Bond, the Peter Morgan Bond, the Bond that was going to right all the wrongs of Quantum of Solace – is no more. Although its status had been set to “indefinitely delayed” since April, the continuing financial mess at MGM means that the film has now been cancelled altogether. It also means that we’re back in a situation where the next 007 movie could feasibly be several years away.

We’ll give a shoutout to “danslittlefinger,” who posted the link on the MI6 fan Web site message board.

HMSS revised handicapping of spy movie projects

Back in mid-April, we did some handicapping on some spy movie projects in various stages of development.

Less than three months have passed and there have been some developments, some firm, some murky. So here’s a revised odds board.

Bond 23: This project is the latest in the news, though that would have to fall under the murky category. The Daily Mirror in the U.K. said Bond 23 had been “canned” because of MGM’s financial problems.

The paper cited a “glum insider” it didn’t identify and quoted a statement from Eon Productions that didn’t confirm but didn’t really deny it, either. Media reports about James Bond movies have a mixed record. Nearly 30 years ago, for example, there were reports that Eon was considering James Brolin to play 007 in Octopussy. In 1994, Brolin’s screen tests were shown at a 007 fan convention in Los Angeles, showing they were right even though Roger Moore ended up coming back for Octopussy.

It would be nice if we knew something, anything about the “glum insider.” Does he/she have direct knowledge? In theory, it could be anyone from Eon boss people Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, down to a grip. Still, even if you discount the Daily Mirror report, MGM hasn’t been making much progress on the financial front. Bottom line: the news isn’t good, the question is exactly how bad it is.

ORIGINAL ODDS: 4-1
FIRST REVISED ODDS (after Eon said Bond 23 was being delayed indefinitely): 10-1
REVISED ODDS (discounting Daily Mirror but noting lack of MGM progress): 15-1
REVISED ODDS (accepting Daily Mirror): 100-1

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 4: Some news has occurred since our original mid-April rankings. The Empire Web site quoted Tom Cruise as confirming that Brad Bird was definitely onboard to direct the film. But Paramount also announced in May the release date had been pushed back to December 2011. Still, all this showed that things were happening.

The biggest cloud now over the project may be whether Paramount is getting cold feet because of the disappoint box office receipts of Cruise’s recent Knight and Day movie, according to a story by Mike Fleming of Nikki Finke’s Deadline Web site.

ORIGINAL ODDS:2-1
REVISED ODDS: 3-2

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. A weblog of the Los Angeles Times reported June 28 that Warner Bros. likes a script commissioned earlier this year, wants to proceed with it but is still looking for a director.

We’ve been speptical since this latest version first surfaced earlier in the year, in part because have been lots of U.N.C.L.E. scripts that have gone nowhere. Things are still murky but something appears to be happening.

ORIGINAL ODDS:100-1
REVISED ODDS:25-1

New (serious) Matt Helm movie: Not much news on a movie that’d be a more faithful version of Donald Hamilton’s “counter assassin.”

ORIGINAL ODDS: 10-1, no revision.

Daily Mirror reports Bond 23 `canned’ because of MGM financial ills

The Daily Mirror newspaper in the U.K. in a July 2 story is reporting that BOND 23 HAS BEEN CANCELED OR, AS THE PAPER PUT IT, CANNED. Here’s an excerpt:

The new James Bond film, due for release by 2012, has been canned due to a cash crisis.
(snip)
(I)t has confirmed the movie has been axed –- and it could be years before the secret agent with a licence to kill is back on the big screen.

The confirmation comes from a “glum insider,” not identified by name or title by the newspaper. Eon Productions said in April it was suspending development of the film, citing financial uncertainty at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc., which owns half of the 007 franchise.

The Daily Mirror quotes a new statement from Eon that simply says the production company doesn’t know when work will resume and won’t comment further. The “cash crisis” referred to in the excerpt is MGM’s, still coping with a large debt load and an uncertain future.

Note: we first spotted this on the MI6 fan Web siteand you can read that summary, which cuts and pastes from much of the original article by CLICKING HERE. Or if you missed the link to the original article above, YOU CAN CLICK HERE.