James Bond has a license to kill, but he doesn’t have a license to print money. With the franchise’s long-time studio home in financial distress, the 23rd James Bond installment has been put on indefinite hold.
In a joint statement released on Monday (April 19), producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli declared, “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.'”
It was announced last summer that veteran franchise scribes Neal Purvis and Robert Wade were working on the “Bond 23” script with “The Queen” writer Peter Morgan. Then last fall, Daniel Craig said publicly that his third tour of 007 duty would begin production late this year.
In the Wilson/Broccoli statement, it’s only acknowledged that the film was tentatively scheduled for release in 2011 or 2012.
MGM has been up for sale since last November, with Time Warner and Access Industries holding out as potential buyers. Meanwhile, the company remains in debt and has received relief on repayments on four different occasions, most recently at the end of March.
The company’s only current release is “Hot Tub Time Machine,” which has been profitable, with more than $42 million to date at the domestic box office. In contrast, Craig’s first two installments as James Bond — 2006’s “Casino Royale” and 2008’s “Quantum of Solace” — made over $1.18 billion worldwide.
Other assets at MGM include Guillermo del Toro and Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit.” Over the weekend, Jackson went on the record saying that although scripts for two “Hobbit” films are complete, the movie hasn’t been formally greenlit and a production schedule has yet to be officially determined.