The slow and prolonged financial meltdown of MGM studios has left many casualties in it’s wake. The two most notable were The Hobbit and the James Bond franchise. Now partnering with Warner Bros to get The Hobbit made has still left the uneven flagship 007 spy series in a state of limbo. Throughout it’s financial issues it has not been clear if MGM would try to maintain it’s independence or be bought out by another more stable studio.
As part of their financial analysis of MGM’s current state Bloomberg.com has noted that the troubled studio is planning to return it’s flagship series to theaters by 2012. The once powerful film studio rejected a takeover bid by Lions Gate (the studio responsible for releasing the Saw franchise and the films of Tyler Perry) and seems determined to rebuild itself. The company has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and has announced that after an extended spending freeze they are once again putting films back into motion. Though the bulk of the production cost is being shouldered by Warner Bros, MGM still has obligations toward and owns a fair piece of the two upcomingfilms based on The Hobbit.
MGM has stated it is their hope to find a 50% partner to take on most if not all production costs of James Bond 23, with the plan to be able to finance future installments entirely on their own. It is MGM’s hope to be able to release a James Bond film every two years beginning in 2012. Of course at this point MGM would have to find a partner quickly is they hope to meet the schedule they’ve set out for themselves. Unlike The Hobbit there was no real pre-production work being done on the James Bond franchise in the downtime of the last few years. At present there is not story, no title, no director and not cast in place.
It’s unclear if most recent Daniel Craig is going to be able to return to the role. While he expressed a desire to do so in the past he now has new obligations that may make it impossible. Specifically he is currently shooting David Fincher’s adaptation/remake of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. That story is the first in a trilogy, and the character that Craig plays is a major character in all three entries. Should the first film do as well as expected it’s likely that Craig will have to leap into sequels and not be available to reprise his role as the dashing secret agent.
Craig of course took over the role from Pierce Brosnan with Casino Royale, the most financially successful film in the history of the franchise. That film succeeded in being a slightly grittier and realistic take on Bond and it won over fans who questioned the new direction. However the follow up film, Quantum of Solace, was a messy action film with none of the fun that had always exemplified the series. That film was not particularly well received by fans and it’s box office returns were equally unimpressive. If MGM is able to find a partner for a 23rd Bond film then fans can probably expect story and cast announcements to start coming within the next few months.