MGM have set a tentative release date of November 17th 2006 for the 21st James Bond film Casino Royale...

Casino Royale Release Date Announced
29th March 2005

"Casino Royale", the 21st James Bond film, has been given a tentative release date of November 17th 2006 by MGM.

The news broke in an article by trade paper The Hollywood Reporter on the current state of the Sony lead consortium takeover of MGM.

The piece said, "While development at MGM has slowed considerably in recent months, a handful of productions -- all well into preproduction -- are moving ahead as planned. At the top of the list is the next installment of the James Bond franchise, "Casino Royale," which Martin Campbell is set to direct but has not been cast, though it is tentatively set for release Nov. 17, 2006."

Dame Judi Dench, who has played M in the last four 007 outings, said last month that she expects filming for "Casino Royale" to start in January or February 2006.

No casting decisions may have been officially finalised, but casting agents working for the production have been active in Los Angeles in the past couple of months and have met with several actors, including the Bollywood legend Gulshan Grover who, although not officially offered a part yet, says he had several meetings with the "Casino Royale" casting agents Janet Hirshenson and Jane Jenkins.



The Lion Roars On
The European Commission could give its approval for a consortium headed by Sony Corp. of America to take over the 80-year-old MGM Inc. in a merger valued at $4.8 billion, as early as next week.

Because the merger involves more than just a Sony takeover of MGM -- Sony's partners in the consortium include Providence Equity Partners, Texas Pacific Group, Comcast Corp. and DLJ Merchant Banking Partners -- Sony can't move unilaterally, and, even after the merger, MGM will continue to exist as a private company controlled by Sony and its partners.

In reality, as far as MGM's development and production schedule goes, the expectation is that Sony will be calling the shots, however.

According to sources at MGM, the consortium is legally obligated to take over MGM's production deals. Presumably, Danjaq, producers of the Bond franchise, also would find a secure home at Sony, said the report.

As for the future of MGM staff, of the 1,400 employees, only about 250 are expected to be retained, according the the report, and most of them will be involved with the operations of the 4,000-title library, which includes recent MGM titles as well as those belonging to United Artists. MGM vice chairman and chief operating officer Chris McGurk, who has been involved with past Bond productions and relations with Eon Producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli have allegedly been strained at times, will leave MGM with a payout of $5.75 million once the merger is completed.

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