C'MON HOLLYWOOD: Get Bond 23 Back On-Track!
Itís been two years since the last James Bond film, QUANTUM OF SOLACE came out. If everything were running smoothly at MGM, this holiday season Bond would once again be shooting it out at the multiplex, as the usual course of action for the Bond series is to leave two years between each installment.
But alas, itís been over two years and a new Bond isnít even close to going into production. Now, this isnít the first time thereís been a delay between Bonds. After THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN flopped, it took three years for THE SPY WHO LOVED ME to hit the silver screen, as script problems and the departure of co-producer Harry Saltzman ended up delaying the film. Between LICENSE TO KILL, and GOLDENEYE, we went six whole years without a Bond due to legal troubles, and many thought that was the end of the greatest action hero of all time. Luckily it wasnít, and in the guise of Pierce Brosnan, 007 was back sipping Vodka Martini's (shaken, not stirred of course), shooting it out with baddies, and getting it on with Euro-babes by the fall of 1995.
Brosnanís films typically hit theaters according to the two-year rule, with the only exception being DIE ANOTHER DAY, as it was delayed a year to take advantage of the fortieth anniversary of DR.NO (this ploy obviously worked, as DIE ANOTHER DAY remains the highest grossing domestic Bond film- despite its undeniable suckitude). We had another lengthy delay once Pierce Brosnan was dropped (or retired depending on who you ask), and it took four years of screen-tests and re-writes to bring us CASINO ROYALE.
Judging from the finished film, itís a good thing they took as much time as they did, as it was easily the best Bond film since at least GOLDENEYE. Once that became a smash hit, the series was once again back on track and QUANTUM OF SOALCE hit theaters exactly two years later. While many (including myself) found QUANTUM OF SOLACE to be underwhelming compared to ROYALE, it was nevertheless another smash it, raking in $586 million worldwide.
As the series is obviously as popular as ever, youíd think another installment would be a no-brainer. Sure enough, earlier this year work actually began in a rather promising fashion with Peter Morgan (FROST/NIXON, HEREAFTER) being hired to write the script, and Sam Mendes (AMERICAN BEAUTY, ROAD TO PERDITION) attached to direct.
But then, Bond met his most tyrannical, evil foe- bankers!
By now, everyone knows about MGM (the studio behind Bond) and their financial troubles, and Iím not going to elaborate on it here- for the sole reason that I can barely understand whatís going on myself. As it stands, MGM is bankrupt, and Bond isn't the only franchise affected. THE HOBBIT also went on hiatus (but is now seemingly back on track), and already wrapped films like RED DAWN, and Joss Whedonís CABIN IN THE WOODS are sitting on the shelf as the studio hasnít got the capital to release them.
My issue is this. MGM should have waited until the next Bond was off the ground before they started sinking money into THE HOBBIT or anything else. While HOBBIT will certainly be a smash, itís also going to be damn costly. While the Bondís now cost between 150-200 Million a film, thatís still cheaper than THE HOBBIT will end up being. With Bond being as huge as it is, theyíre all but guaranteed to make the money back- so that should have been their priority rather than sending a big budget film like RED DAWN into production. Another nail in Bond 23's coffin was likely HOT TUB TIME MACHINE, which to date is the last film MGM's gotten into theaters. While the budget was modest, they spent big money on the marketing campaign in order to turn it into another HANGOVER. While the film did fairly well, it was not a huge money-maker, and it looks like it all but broke the back of the already cash strapped studio.
At the very least, the MGM situation seems to finally be resolving itself somewhat, but there are other problems. The biggest problem is that Daniel Craig, after two massive Bond blockbusters is now (deservedly so) a megastar and a busy guy. This year, heís starring in both COWBOYS & ALIENS, and THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, both of which will likely become franchises. In order to get the next Bond in theaters before 2014, theyíll have to act fast and get it in production at some point next year as Craigís going to get busier and busier if one (or both) of those films are successful enough to warrant a follow-up. Luckily, Craig seems open to returning (and is perhaps even contractually obliged), but lately Iíve had a feeling in my gut that we may have seen the last of Craig as Bond. Hopefully Iím wrong.
Whoever ends up with their hands on the franchise after the MGM situation is cleared up (fingers crossed for Sony, which did a great job as a co-producer on the last two) needs to get a new Bond going as their first order of business. Luckily, Bond is still in the hands of the Broccoli family, and my hope is that theyíve continued working on the script throughout the delays to assure a new Bond will be in production before long. At the very least, we need AT LEAST one more Bond film with Daniel Craig to close out his storyline, before yet another re-boot (God forbid). The fans that have been following the franchise for almost fifty years deserve it. It makes me very sad to note that 2012 with mark the fiftieth anniversary of the series, and that year likely WONíT be marked by a new Bond film.
|Extra Tidbit:||Got my Bond mojo on the other day by watching OCTOPUSSY. Still one of my favorites, critics be damned! That Aerostar Mini-Jet is cool beans.|