As you know, the James Bond filmmaker EON Productions operates with great autonomy and secrecy. I’ve just learned that producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson are in final negotiations with CAA for director Sam Mendes to come on as a consultant to the 23rd James Bond film (as yet untitled). That’s right — not as the director, yet. This is for the film now in pre-production for release in 2011 whose story begins after Quantum Of Solace and again stars Daniel Craig. The actor has been telling folks that filming begins in late 2010. I hear 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.) Oscar-winner Peter Morgan with Quantum Of Solace and Casino Royale alumni Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, is writing the script for the latest film. Here’s what sources are telling me: once 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 further complicates ownership of Bond #23. “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.” Said one insider about the choice of Mendes: “Barbara thinks he’s smart, which he is. But you don’t need such a fancy director. You need someone who can do an action movie.” (Hmm, does Road To Perdition count? I loved it.)
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