The industry trade paper Variety is reporting tonight that plans to release Bond 21 in 2005 have been scrapped. MGM has confirmed that the studio and Eon Productions have not yet been able to find a director for 007’s next adventure, nor has an actor has been locked in to play James Bond.
The five months of negotiations that preceded the sale of MGM to Sony Corp also are said to have affected the development of the film because during that period executives were unable to move forward on the project.
The studio is now said to be looking to release Bond 21 sometime in 2006 when the MGM label would operate under its new parent Sony Corp. The studio has yet to decide whether the now-postponed Bond pic would be released in summer 2006 or in the franchise’s traditional November berth. Sources familiar with the situation said that the producers plan to meet next month to decide whether to aim for a summer or November release. One factor in setting a date is Paramount’s Mission: Impossible which has a third installment planned for 2006 as well.
The failure to land a director means a mid-January start date would be tough to meet, making the previously planned Nov. 18, 2005 release a difficult, if not impossible, target to hit. MGM and Eon were cutting things close this time around, and had hoped to tap a helmer by the end of September, but they were not able to close a deal.
Variety reports the studio was high on several names, including Guy Ritchie’s longtime producing partner Matthew Vaughn (Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels), who recently made his feature directing debut on the British crime thriller Layer Cake, which Sony Pictures Classics is distribbing. Another was Paul McGuigan, who directed MGM’s most recent release, Wicker Park.
Those prospective choices would have fit well with the potential direction of the next pic. While producers are keeping under wraps the next pic’s script, by scribes Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, the plot is said to revisit the grittier spy elements of earlier Bond pics, and to stray from the effects-packed entries of late.
The delay now gives MGM and Eon more time to not only find a director but also to secure an actor to play 007. Variety reports that no offer has yet been made to any actor. Pierce Brosnan, who has said he’d be interested in returning for a fifth outing, hasn’t been approached by the producers.
Eon is considering introducing a new actor as Bond, but one sticking point could be gross participation. No actor has ever received a percentage of the gross for playing James Bond, which could keep some high-profile names from putting on the spy’s tuxedo.
Ewan McGregor, Hugh Jackman, Dougray Scott, Orlando Bloom, Clive Owen, Ioan Gruffudd, Eric Bana and Gerard Butler, among others, have reportedly been named candidates at one time. But producers are also considering the option of making the series appeal to younger audiences with a more youthful Bond.
The movie news site Dark Horizons (who scooped Variety by several hours) has reported that MGM is considering moving their new Pink Panther film starring Steve Martin into Bond 21‘s November release slot.
Keep watching CBn for the latest news on Bond 21.