We were as pleasantly surprised as anyone when 2006's "Casino Royale" turned out to not only be a thoroughly successful reboot of the James Bond franchise for the modern era, but also the best Bond movie since the Connery era. By the same token, we were as disappointed as anyone when quickie follow-up "Quantum of Solace" proved to be as bad as the worst Brosnan entries, let down by a writer's strike-afflicted script and poor direction from Marc Forster.
But with the financial troubles of Bond's home, MGM, delaying the third Daniel Craig-starring entry, still known only as "Bond 23," it seems to have given the series time to regroup, with A-list helmer Sam Mendes coming on to direct, and an intriguing take on the series being hinted at that seems to have attracted talent like Javier Bardem and, most recently, Ralph Fiennes, although neither are officially signed on as yet. With the project landing a firm release date, and likely to get underway at the end of the year, studios have been jostling for the rights to distribute the film, and it looks like it's finally found a home.
With the two Craig entries so far ranking as the two top-grossing Bond films, taking in over a billion dollars worldwide between them, there's a lot of money at stake, and it's no surprise that MGM, now led by Spyglass bosses Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum, have had their pick of suitors, however Deadline reports that Sony are on the verge of landing the project. The studio, who also distributed the last two Bond movies, have apparently cut a deal that involves MGM co-financing the currently-in-production "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo," which will give the lion quick cash flow in order to get other projects going.
Barber and Birnbaum's terms are said to have alienated other bidders, with Paramount dropping out of the bidding when a similar deal for MGM to come in on a pre-existing franchise was proposed. Nevertheless, Sony have proven that they know how to market these films successfully, and we're sure that the deal will work out well for all concerned.
Buried at the end of the piece, Deadline also reports whispers that have persisted for some time, and that had seemed debunked long ago: namely that "Slumdog Millionaire" star Freida Pinto was a possibility to play the Bond girl in the latest entry. The rumor first appeared in the British tabloids a year ago, and was swiftly denied by Pinto's spokesperson -- the question is, is Deadline referring to the old reports, or has there been new movement? Hard to tell, but with the actress recently being ranked as the most desirable woman in the world in a poll by Ask Men, we wouldn't be surprised if some tentative phone calls are being made.
Whether or not there's any legitimacy to the Pinto whispers, both Daniel Craig and Dame Judi Dench are confirmed to be coming back (and we imagine it's very likely that Jeffrey Wright will return as CIA agent Felix Leiter) for "Bond 23," while Javier Bardem confirmed that he'd been offered the role of the villain, and was waiting on a script, Ralph Fiennes is said to be in talks for another role, and British stage veteran Simon Russell Beale has also been consistently linked to the new film. Mendes is directing from a script by Neil Purvis, Robert Wade and John Logan, and filming begins in the fall, for a release on November 9th, 2012.