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Sam Mendes Says He Won't Direct The Next James Bond Film

by Oliver Lyttelton
March 6, 2013 6:38 AM
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Even those with cooler feelings about the film itself have to acknowledge that Sam Mendes' Bond movie "Skyfall" was a wild success. With a BAFTA for Best British Film, five Oscar nominations (winning two), and a global box office of $1.1 billion, making it the seventh-biggest film of all time, and nearly twice as big as "Casino Royale," the most successful 007 film before that, few could argue that it's been anything other than a triumph.

Even before the film was released, questions have been flying as to whether Mendes would come back for another installment. Few directors in the modern era have made more than one Bond flick (Martin Campbell is one of the few, but with ten years between his films), and Mendes initially suggested he was reluctant. Over time, it seemed like he might be softening; he was said to be developing a two-part script with writer John Logan, and only a few weeks back, it was said that he was getting closer to committing to the film (albeit only a single self-contained story at this point). But it looks Mendes has finally made a firm decision, and it's a no.

The filmmaker told Empire "It has been a very difficult decision not to accept Michael [Wilson] and Barbara [Broccoli]’s very generous offer to direct the next Bond movie. 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' (a new musical adaptation, in the West End) and 'King Lear' (at the National Theatre in London in 2014, to star Simon Russell Beale), that need my complete focus over the next year and beyond." Not mentioned by Mendes, but presumably very much on his slate too, is the pilot for the Showtime series "Penny Dreadful," which he created with Logan and is set to film later in the year.

Mendes doesn't rule out a return to the series down the line, saying ""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". But it sounds like the Eon team ultimately wanted to get moving on a 24th Bond flick sooner than Mendes' schedule allows, and the filmmaker has always sounded a little ambivalent about the possibility of returning.

So who should take the mantle for the next entry? Before you say 'Christopher Nolan,' you can cast an eye over some of the suggestions we made a few months back, who we think could all be viable candidates. But let us know your own thoughts below. "Bond 24" will be released, complete with a title and a director and everything, sometime in the next few years (November 2015 feels like the most likely bet). 

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More: Sam Mendes, Bond 24, Skyfall

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  • DHE | March 6, 2013 10:16 AMReply

    Am I the only one who think Ralph Finnes will get the job?

  • James | March 6, 2013 12:47 PM


  • Jim | March 6, 2013 9:35 AMReply

    Luc Besson could be awesome choice. When it comes to action, he is one of the best & his bad guys are always emblematic.

  • CHR | March 6, 2013 8:23 AMReply

    Winding Refn. Please God, it'd be insane!

  • Alan B | March 6, 2013 9:55 AM

    I've got the story. Mads Mikkelsen reprises his role ... from 'Bleeder' as the video store clerk. This time, he chillaxes with Bond. Whilst Bond goes off and kills hundreds of terrorists, the film stays with Mikkelsen as he talks movies with customers. Ryan Gosling appears as a customer that was disappointed with 'Drive'. There are no stunts in the film: it's just Mikkelsen hanging out at a video store.

  • Alan B | March 6, 2013 7:40 AMReply

    Cornish would be a fascinating choice ... if only to witness the guy get 90% on Rotten Tomatoes and still find a way to whine about a lukewarm review (the Kermode/Cornish clip on YouTube, which I can't submit for some reason). I don't even like Kermode, but I am on his side, if only because Cornish has the most punchable voice I've ever heard. If Cornish turned into that much of an asshole after making 'Attack the Block', his ego would turn into Cimino-levels when tasked with a Bond film.

  • Alan B | March 6, 2013 9:48 AM

    I didn't actually mind the film (although I felt it fell apart in the final act), but I thought that Cornish's arguments were turgid and immature. He suggests that all critics must hate their jobs because he didn't like being a film critic ("it started to distort my mind") and therefore Kermode wasn't emotionally equipped to fully understand 'Attack the Block'. Or something. He was defensive to the point of being pushy and rude (not letting Kermode speak in parts) whilst his arguments were downright confusing to anyone that isn't Joe Cornish's testy ego: 'hey, we tried to capture the voices of a younger generation ... don't point that out, because I wouldn't want to differentiate that generation.' By the time Cornish says that Kermode didn't even review 'Attack the Block' and he needs to watch it again, I lost any respect for Cornish: "many great films we love are misinterpreted ..." Jesus, you'd think he made 'The Magnificent Ambersons' and that Cornish was a tortured Orson Welles, when - in reality - Cornish was given a middling review (in the midst of mostly ecstatic ones) and was not mature enough to deal with it. Kermode doesn't come across well either: he regularly gives mean-spirited and spiteful reviews, so listening to him squirm and tried to justify a review that goes out of its way to be generous and constructive makes him appear like a bully who can't deal with a bigger bully. Weak and pathetic. The only person who comes across well is host Simon Mayo, who usually comes across as the voice of sanity.

  • I seriously hope you guys ross douthat | March 6, 2013 8:49 AM

    Oof, that is hard to listen to. It's unusual for a film critic to say "meh" to a filmmaker's face, and I sort of feel for JC a bit. On the other hand, Kermode is right and the film was meh. At best. JC was funny in the 1990s though!

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