Tentative answers to 007 questions about Bond 23’s indefinite delay

Eon Productions indefinitely delayed Bond 23 production six months ago because of continuing financial trouble at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. At the time, we posed (00)7 questions about the move. There aren’t many definitive answers, but here’s what can be said about the seven questions:

001. How long is indefinite? To quote James Bond (Sean Connery) when he was in the pool with Bambi and Thumper in Diamonds Are Forever, “I haven’t found out yet.” However, one option being considered by MGM debt holders would turn control over to Spyglass Entertainment executives and involve a trip into bankruptcy court. That would involve a “prepackaged” bankruptcy where creditors agree on terms in advance. Still, that’s likely to take a few months.

Also, it appears the Los Angeles Times was correct when it reported in August that Bond 23 didn’t have a script ready for shooting. (We’ll get to that shortly.) Daniel Craig also is doing other projects.

So let’s see: possible trip to bankruptcy court, new management getting up to speed at MGM, a busy actor and a script that’s not ready. To get Bond 23 out in time for Christmas 2011, it’d have to begin shooting by, say, April 1 or so. That appears not to be in the cards. And given the Spyglass deal with MGM isn’t yet certain — investor Carl Icahn is pitching a merger of MGM with Lions Gate Entertainment — you can’t yet count on 2012.

002. Does this mean Daniel Craig has played 007 for the last time? Craig, in his public statements, has said he wants to continue. To read one such example from August in the Hero Complex blog of the Los Angeles Times, CLICK HERE. Still, Craig is a hired hand (albeit a well compensated one). We’ll chalk this down as a tentative no, not because of the actor but because of the uncertainty of the MGM situation.

003. Bye bye Sam Mendes? Mendes’s reported participation as director had generated some buzz about Bond 23 before the production shutdown. David G. Wilson, son of Eon bossman Michael G. Wilson, told the IGN Web site (CLICK HERE for the full post) that Mendes is “very excited to do this film — and it’s a matter of timing too. He’s a hot director, and there’s a danger he would have to go and work on something else so we have to be patient and optimistic.” Once again, we’ll chalk the answer to our original question as a tentative no. The younger Wilson’s comments seem to leave wiggle room that Mendes could depart while saying the director remains enthusiastic about Bond.

004. Bye bye Peter Morgan? Answer affirmative, courtesy of the screenwriter himself. In an interview on the Coming Soon blog said he never finished an outline for Bond 23 when the plug got pulled and he wouldn’t be returning to the project. Eon announced last year it would team Morgan with Neal Purvis and Robert Wade. But Morgan, in the interview, talks about his other projects.

005. Do the Broccolis take this opportunity to cash out? No.

006. Bye bye Judi Dench? Assuming continued good health, answer is likely no as long as Craig returns.

007. How much damage does this do to the 007 franchise? That’s still the biggest question and still the toughest to answer. There have been production shutdowns for about half of the 21 years since Licence to Kill in 1989. Twice (1989 to 1995 and 2002 to 2006) the normal two to three years between films has been extended by one kind of hiatus or another. The current hiatus since 2008 is likely to run at least four years before it’s over.

The whole point of rebooting with Casino Royale supposedly was to show Bond at the start of his career. The momentum of that idea seems blunted even assuming a Craig return in 2012.

Most of these aren’t satisifying answers, but little about the past six months has been satisifying to 007 fans.

MGM watch: creditors may be asked to vote on debt restructuring, bankruptcy: Bloomberg

Creditors of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc., which controls half of the 007 franchise, are going to be asked to approve some major movies, according to a Sept. 10 Bloomberg.com story by Ronald Grover and Michael White. Highlights:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. creditors will be asked to approve a restructuring and pre-packaged bankruptcy plan for the studio within the next week or two, according to two people with knowledge of the situation.

Under the plan, MGM would file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after obtaining creditor approval, with the goal of emerging from court protection by the end of the year, said one of the people, who asked not to be named because the details aren’t public. Susie Arons, an MGM spokeswoman, declined to comment.

All of this is tied in with a plan where the top management of Spyglass Entertainment would take over control of MGM. If you want to read the entire Bloomberg story, here’s a SECOND LINK YOU CAN CLICK ON.

If the Bloomberg story is correct — and IF the plan actually gets executed as described — that suggests the *earliest* Bond 23 development can resume is sometime in early 2011. Presumably, the new MGM regime would want to get to know Eon Productions bosses Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli. Also, the new MGM leadership would have to establish which studio would actually release Bond 23 once its made. Finally, there’s also the work schedules of actor Daniel Craig and would-be Bond 23 director Sam Mendes to consider.

Again, that’s just our reading of the tea leaves. It’s our guess the earliest Bond 23 would be released is 2012, but we stress that’s only a guess.