British helmer Sam Mendes is being lined up to direct the 23rd James Bond film starring Daniel Craig as 007, production could start this summer...

Update 1: MGM refuse to comment, but deny pre-production freeze
Update 2: Mendes to board as 'consultant' to avoid MGM payment trigger
Update 3: Publicist confirms Mendes talks, MGM sets bidders deadline

Sam Mendes Lined Up To Direct Bond 23

5th January 2010

British director Sam Mendes is being lined up to helm the 23rd James Bond film, it was announced today by the Hollywood Reporter. According to the trade paper, he is in negotiations with the production team to direct Daniel Craig's third outing as 007. As with every blockbuster directing assignment, Mendes' participation is contingent on the final script and the film's production schedule.

Above: Sam Mendes, born on 1 August 1965 in Reading, Berkshire, England, UK, would be the first Oscar winning director to helm a James Bond movie. Ten directors have preceded him.


Bond 23 would be Sam Mendes' first major action adventure film, although his 2005 movie "Jarhead", set during the first Gulf War, featured some stunt work. His most recent films include "Away We Go (2009) and Revolutionary Road (2008). In 2002 he helmed "Road to Perdition" starring Daniel Craig, but his most famous work is undoubtedly "American Beauty" (1999).

The production is now being fast-tracked and could begin as early as June with an eye toward a 2011 release. Plans for the film are moving forward despite a possible sale of MGM. This is a stark turn-around on the previous line from producers, who had said earlier that pre-production was on hold due to uncertainty of MGM's future.

Sony, who co-produced and distributed the last two films, "Casino Royale" and "Quantum of Solace", are out of the picture now that their two-film deal under the previous acquisition deal has expired. That is unless Sony is part of another MGM purchase, as the debt-ridden studio is expecting bids later this month. Lionsgate, Liberty Media and News Corp are rumoured to be take-over bid front-runners.

In recent months, Daniel Craig has said he expected filming to start in late 2010, indicating a tentative release window of late 2011. But a production start date as early as June 2010 could point to a release in summer 2011, making Bond 23 the first 007 adventure to be released in the main blockbuster season since "Licence To Kill" in 1989.

Update 1:
As is the norm for the industry, MGM has refused to confirm the reports that Sam Mendes is in discussions to direct. But in a move perhaps aimed to please prospective buyers, the studio has denied pre-production on Bond 23 had been on ice since October due to its financial uncertainty, despite both the writer Peter Morgan and producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli confirming that to the press in recent weeks.

Update 2:
As the news went viral around the industry today, Deadline Hollywood is reporting that EON is in final negotiations to bring Sam Mendes on board Bond 23 a 'consultant' for the time being. According to sources, when EON assigns a director to a film, it triggers a first payment from MGM. Given the studio's terrible financial standing and the possibility of imminent sale, signing Mendes as a consultant avoids MGM having any contractual ownership of Bond 23 should EON gain the right to move the franchise away from the lion. The report also claims that Daniel Craig, who worked with the director on "Road To Perdition", is the driving force behind Mendes' hiring due to the critical reception "Quantum of Solace" received.

Update 3 [6th January 2009]:
Sara Keene, Mendes' British publicist, confirmed today that the director had met with EON Productions 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."

Meanwhile, MGM today set a January 15th deadline for potential buyers to say whether they are interested in acquiring the company. A dozen parties, including film studios and investment groups, are understood to have signed non-disclosure agreements allowing them to examine MGM’s finances.

Bond 23 Fact Check
Bond 23 is being written by regular Bond duo Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, and "The Queen" and "Frost/Nixon" scribe Peter Morgan.

Daniel Craig will play 007 for the third time, with Dame Judi Dench returning as MI6 chief 'M'. David Arnold will compose the score for his sixth 007 movie.

It will be produced by Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson under EON Productions. MGM is expected to distribute, although the studio may come under new ownership soon.


Daniel Craig

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