Sam Mendes still directing next James Bond film

It was never a question of if James Bond would return, just when and how. Following the success of Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace, a third film with Daniel Craig as Bond was never doubted, and things were moving along at a good pace when it was first announced that Oscar winning director Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Away We Go) had agreed to direct the 23rd Bond film. Then MGM happened.

The studio’s financial woes have been painfully well documented, and following the near collapse of the company under $4 billion of debt, things got weird for Bond. With a property of its magnitude, it was never really a question of whether or not Bond would be back, but when, and under what studio’s banner. If MGM had totally imploded—as many people feared it would—the Bond franchise would have likely been stuck in a legal limbo until a new studio could obtain the rights. Bond would return, but if legal delays persisted, as they have a tendency to do, the delay might make it impractical or even impossible to bring back Craig. Keeping Mendes would be almost impossible to the point of being laughable.

Mendes is very much in demand as a director, and as Bond entered MGM’s gravitational limbo, the Mendes claimed to remain interested but the longer the delays the less likely his schedule would permit. Then MGM joined the ranks of the happily bankrupt, and things began to move again.

The first glimmer of sunshine from MGM’s otherwise overcast future came when the Hobbit was greenlit, which makes sense. After all, the Lord of the Rings franchise earned around $2 billion. Then came word that Bond was up next, and earlier this month, Bond 23 got the greenlight as well.

So with Craig both seemingly excited and contractually obligated to appear in the new film (along with Dame Judi Dench), the ball went back to Mendes.

According to the Daily Mail, Mendes is back on board as the Bond director, and filming is expected to begin later next year. The news comes from Mendes’ estranged wife, Kate Winslet, who offhandedly commented that her husband would be moving to England, partly to spend time with their children, and partly to prepare for Bond. Nothing formal has been announced by MGM, but it seems like Mendes is on board.

Mendes will first head across the pond to direct Kevin Spacey in Richard III at the Old Vic Theater in London. No word yet on any details about the next Bond film, although once this film is in the bag, MGM has stated that they are going to aim for a new Bond release every two years.

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