MGM announced today today that the next Bond movie is officially coming to theaters on Nov. 9, 2012. They have confirmed that Sem Mendes will direct, as has been expected, and Daniel Craig will return for a third go-round as 007. Filming kicks off late next year.
This isn’t entirely unanticipated. When they filed for bankruptcy last November, MGM’s filings said the company expected the 23rd official Bond movie in November 2012. Now that it’s official, and Mendes is confirmed, the movie starts casting and scouting locations, so expect those notes and plot points to start leaking over the 22 months. (You might also hear about who is actually releasing the thing, at some point.)
By the time this movie opens, Daniel Craig will be an actor transformed. Known outside of England mostly for “Layer Cake” by the time he was cast in 2006′s “Casino Royale,” he was decried by Bond fans for being blond and not exactly Bond-esque. His first turn was terrific, and the movie was one of the franchise’s better outings, so that shut people up and turned Bond into an exciting series again.
Since that movie, Craig made some missteps (mostly involving Nicole Kidman: “The Invasion,” “The Golden Compass”), but he’s on track for a big year: He has the potential blockbuster “Cowboys and Aliens” coming this summer and the David Fincher-directed, sure-to-be-huge English version of “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” due in December (not to mention a turn in Steven Spielberg’s “Tintin” the same week).
This is sure to change with those three big movies due in 2011, but since “Casino Royale” Craig has had only one hit: the 2008 Bond outing “Quantum of Solace.” That movie was problematic in many ways, and seemed to squander a lot of the goodwill built up by “Royale.” The MGM bankruptcy ordeal that delayed the new Bond’s arrival by a year may have actually had a silver lining: by the time the new movie opens up, Craig might be known as much for Mikael Blomkvist as for James Bond. He will be a more legitimate movie star. And people might have forgotten that they didn’t like “Quantum” four years earlier.
Of course, Craig wasn’t the problem in “Quantum.” The script was a jumbled mess, which was one issue. But a big, big problem was Marc Forster’s direction, which showed that the art house filmmaker was uncomfortable helming a big-budget action movie. That’s the one big question mark looming for Sam Mendes: He’s an acclaimed, Oscar-winning director (and he worked with Craig before, on 2002′s “Road to Perdition”). But can he make a big-time blockbuster? And more to the point, can he make it good and intelligible?
Anyway, these are all things to ponder. Right now, this is exciting news for anyone who wants this series to provide a legitimately good successor to “Casino Royale.”
(Humorously, Deadline reported the news with an “EXCLUSIVE,” because nothing’s more exclusive than getting the same e-mail everybody else received. And they note that they reported the news last month, a huge scoop for the site and only a month behind everybody else. But, you know, that’s irrelevant.)