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.

Wall Street Journal interviews Sam Mendes

The Wall Street Journal, in its weekend edition, has an interview in Q-and-A format with director Sam Mendes, the would-be director of Bond 23. There’s not much 007 material.

Is it true that you are directing the next James Bond film?

It’s only speculation and, you know, at the moment there isn’t even a studio to make the James Bond movie, because MGM is for sale.

Of course, the fact that Mendes’ own publicist confirmed the director had been in discussions (with nothing finalized) may mean it’s stronger than just speculation.

Most of the Journal interview concerns a Shakespeare play Mendes is directing. To read the entire story, you can CLICK HERE.

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.”

Latest twist in Bond 23 saga

Just a few days ago, the Internet was abuzz about production delays in Bond 23. Now, we’re being told there’s momentum the other way even with all the financial uncertainty about the future of Bond studio home MGM.

According to the Hollywood reporter,Sam Mendes is negotiating to direct the next James Bond film. It’d even be a reunion of sorts because Daniel Craig, the current 007, appeared in the director’s 2002 film Road to Perdition.

The Los Angeles Times’s Hero Complex blog followed up, thusly:

Sam Mendes is engaged in discussions to become the next Bond maestro, potentially making him the first Oscar winner ever to direct England’s suavest spy.

But about an hour later, a SEPARATE Los Angeles Times blog, The Big Picture, written by Patrick Goldstein, opined this was a bad idea:

While I’m also happy to see filmmakers practicing their craft, this is a bad decision in oh, so many ways, not to mention a depressing example of how hard it is for filmmakers to find any good studio material to work with. Not that I’m letting Mendes off the hook here. His career has been in steep decline, both in terms of critical as well as commercial success. In fact, if you look at the grosses on his five feature films, they form a graph that goes in only one direction — straight down.
It seems obvious that Mendes — or more likely, his CAA agents — decided it was time to grab hold of a commercial piece of material that could not only offer a payday but an opportunity to put up some respectable box-office numbers. But a Bond movie is a Bond movie. There’s really no way to put a personal stamp on a series whose fans demand all sorts of familiar fare, from buxom vixens to high-powered action scenes.

It will take a while before the truth sorts itself out. But for a film series where producers at least talked to Adam West about playing Bond, where some creative personnel wanted Burt Reynolds, where James Brolin was screentested and John Gavin was actually signed at one point, almost anything is possible.