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Daniel Craig and Sam Mendes will wait for Bond 23, MGM still rudderless, penniless

08-Jul-2010 • Skyfall

James Bond will die another day, much to the disappointment of the tabloid media it would seem. Since the Daily Mirror exaggerated old news about the 23rd 007 adventure being suspended (while MGM find a new owner and solve their debt crisis) to the film being 'axed', the rags, blogs and fan sites were were set alight this week with claims that the series was dead and Daniel Craig's tenure was over.

Not so.

Insiders have been busy leaking to the trade press that the story is false and nothing has changed - the production is simply still on ice until MGM (or its eventual owner) can officially commit budget and green-light the project. Sources close to Craig have also confirmed this position.

While Sony, Fox, and Warner Bros would love to grab the EON Productions franchise, Deadline London was "told reliably that as long as MGM's debt restructuring is preceded by a pre-packaged bankruptcy, Bond isn't going anywhere."

It Takes Two To Tango
Danjaq owns the rights and trademarks to the James Bond film series. MGM took control of half of Danjaq when the studio bought United Artists, who had bought their share from Bond producer Harry Saltzman back in December 1975. The other half is owned by EON Productions.

A source integral to the Bond franchise told the site, “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.”

The report continues, "While the studio's beleaguered backers unwisely allowed MGM and its library to languish by not making new movies and benching MGM's creative and marketing/distribution executives while it staged a futile sales auction that attracted bottom-fishing bids, MGM has made sure to meets the minimum obligations to its two gems, James Bond and The Hobbit. The studio is mulling whether to change its lethargic strategy and free up money for back-to-back Hobbit films to keep the first film on track for a December 2012 release. That's because Peter Jackson is willing to direct the films but might not if those release dates get pushed. There is no such ticking clock on 007."

Deadline was told that both director Sam Mendes and James Bond star Daniel Craig "fully plan to come back to James Bond after MGM sorts itself out."

Spyglass and Summit are understood to be favourites to take control of the studio, but both lack a distribution arm. MGM had previously rejected offers from Time Warner.

As part of MGM's last takeover, Sony / Columbia marketed and distributed "Casino Royale" and "Quantum of Solace" extremely successfully. But that deal was only for two pictures. Any new owner of MGM will have to strike a similar deal to ensure their new projects maximize box-office potential.

Meanwhile, MGM's current interest payment holiday agreed with debt holders expires on July 14th. The studio is expected to beg for a seventh extension while their attempts to secure a new owner continue to fail.

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