UPDATES EXCLUSIVE: Sam Mendes “Consultant” On Bond #23

casinoroyale_danielcraigSo today’s announcement comes via the PR newswire, untypical for EON Productions which always operates with the maximum amount of secrecy. Some showbiz news outlets are mistakenly claiming the next Bond movie, #23, is cancelled. Nope. You can see it’s only been postponed. This is the same pic on which Sam Mendes has been consulting and ultimately was expected to direct.

MgmlogosmallSo what’s really going on? Well, given that MGM is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy and at the mercy of its creditors, EON may have the right to take Bond elsewhere. So it stands to reason that the producers wouldn’t want to do anything now that further complicates ownership of Bond #23 or binds them to MGM during this precarious period during which the once storied studio may now be in its standalone swan song.

broccoli 2As you know, the James Bond filmmakers operate with great autonomy. And producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson were in pre-production on Bond #23 for release in 2011. (The story begins after Quantum Of Solace‘s and again stars Daniel Craig.) But those two have been watching the current MGM auction proceed with a mixture of dismay and curiosity. Dismay because Bond’s longtime home is a mess. And curiosity because Broccoli and Wilson would love to move Bond to a fully functioning studio. Like Sony, where Amy Pascal is dying to keep the famous franchise. Or Fox, which handles Bond’s DVD distribution. “It feels like EON is sending a message to MGM,” one source tells us. “If they try to continue as a stand-alone studio, don’t expect to be making any Bond films.”

Broccoli and Wilson very deliberately have made certain they don’t do anything on Bond #23 which ties the movie further to MGM. (That’s why Mendes was hired as a consulting, not the director. Because once EON hires a director on their Bond films, it triggers a first payment from MGM.) We believe today’s announcement is about that as well. With the MGM auction apparently busted, even though no official announcement has been made yet, EON Productions wants to keep all its options open. Here’s the news release:

LONDON, April 19, 2010 /PRNewswire/ — 007 producers, Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli of EON Productions, today announced they have suspended development on the next James Bond film previously scheduled for release 2011/2012.

“Due to the continuing uncertainty surrounding the future of MGM and the failure to close a sale of the studio, we have suspended development on BOND 23 indefinitely. We do not know when development will resume and do not have a date for the release of BOND 23,” stated Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli jointly.

EON Productions have produced twenty two James Bond films since 1962. In 1995, Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli took over the 007 franchise from Albert R ‘Cubby’ Broccoli and are responsible for producing some of the most successful James Bond films ever, including CASINO ROYALE and more recently QUANTUM OF SOLACE. The James Bond franchise is the longest running in film history. EON Productions and Danjaq LLC are affiliate companies and control all worldwide merchandising for James Bond.

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