Sam Mendes has told the news website of the magazine Empire that he’s backing out of directing the next James Bond movie, or what’s referred to as ‘Bond 24’ for the 24th installment in the iconic spy series.
Mendes told Empire: “It has been a very difficult decision not to accept Michael and Barbara’s very generous offer to direct the next Bond movie,” explained Mendes. “Directing Skyfall was one of the best experiences of my professional life, but I have theatre and other commitments, including productions of Charlie And The Chocolate Factory and King Lear, that need my complete focus over the next year and beyond. I feel very honoured to have been part of the Bond family, and very much hope I have a chance to work with them again sometime in the future.”
Bond movie producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli told Empire “We thoroughly enjoyed working with Sam, he directed our most successful Bond movie ever, Skyfall. We would have loved to have made the next film with him but completely respect his decision to focus on other projects and hope to have the opportunity to collaborate with him again.”
While that leaves the door open for Mendes return at some point in the future, there’s no question that his loss is a blow. Mendes took James Bond to heights not seen before, with Skyfall being the highest grossing movie in British film history, and it scoring a number of top awards, including five Oscar nominations and wins for Best Song and Best Sound Editing. There were many that asked why Skyfall was not included in the Oscars ‘Best Picture’ category. All of that can be attributed to the work of Mendes as Skyfall director. The helmer of movies like American Beauty and Road To Perdition has firmly cemented his place as one of the best of our generation.
Having Mr. Spielberg at the helm of Bond 24 would give it a cache that no Bond film has ever had before it was made, until Skyfall. Moreover, it makes up for Spielberg being turned down to direct James Bond before going on to create, with George Lucas, the Indiana Jones series.
And if you, the Bond fan, are concerned that Steven Spielberg’s not been a Bond fan since being rejected, he is. Mr. Spielberg told The Daily Mail that he saw Skyfall and that he planned to see it again.
Moreover, Spielberg has said that (in a quote that’s attributed to EW, but is all over the Internet) “When I first started making movies, the only franchise I cared about and wanted to be part of was James Bond. When I started out as a TV director, my pie-in-the-sky dream was to make a little movie that would get some notoriety, and then Cubby Broccoli would call me and ask me to direct the next James Bond picture. But I could never get Cubby Broccoli to hire me – and now, sadly, they can’t afford me.”
But now, with Skyfall earning more than $1 billion Worldwide, if Mr. Spielberg has a contract calling for him to collect, say, 5 percent of the gross of Bond 24, and it cleared $1 billion, his take would be $50 million, or one third of his annual salary from all of his business ventures.
Thus, it’s clear that James Bond can now afford Steven Spielberg, not to mention that Mr. Spielberg saying “yes” would almost guarantee that level of box office performance.
And regarding Spielberg’s ability to “get Bond right,” he has not just the producer and crew, but Daniel Craig himself. The current James Bond played a key role in the formation of Skyfall, from reportedly getting Sam Mendes to direct it, to his input in the story line. There are many who have said Mr. Craig should have a producer credit in Skyfall.
Steven Spielberg at James Bond 24 Director, and we’d have to throw in Executive Producer, too – has a nice ring to it.