The most important thing to keep in mind about Daniel Craig’s future as James Bond is that he has a five-film contract. So until he officially quits the role, everything you read is speculation and posturing, including his allegedly turning down a £68 million two-film deal, as well as reports that Tom Hiddleston and Jamie Bell are being considered to play Bond in the future.
What this means in reality is that Bond producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson have the option of doing another film with Craig if an agreement can be reached —and they have maintained that they definitely want to keep Craig. Therefore, they’re in the midst of negotiations. In the case of playing the most famous character in movies, it’s the equivalent of a ritual dance. Thus, every statement, every action and every rumor should be examined within the context of this dance, such as meeting with prospective actors to tweak Craig and to keep their options open.
A crucial factor is that the distribution deal with Sony has expired, putting the Bond franchise in further limbo. However, during a year-end earnings conference call in March, MGM chief Gary Barber disclosed a “three-to-four-year cycle” for Bond films and said that he’s not in a hurry to negotiate a new distribution deal.
This means that “Bond 25” won’t be released until 2018 or 2019. And so far studios aren’t rushing to make a deal with MGM (which also owns other properties such as “Rocky” and “The Pink Panther”). This isn’t surprising since Sony put up 50% of the budget in return for 25% of the profit on the first three films, and then capped its investment at 25% on “Spectre.”
So, the longer this drags out, the likelier the producers will be able to wear down Craig’s resistance. And what has been his resistance? He’s burned out and needs time away from the franchise to spend with his family and to pursue other projects. As a result, Craig’s negotiating to appear in Steven Soderbergh’s hillbilly heist film, “Lucky Logan,” and to play a German provocateur in the TV series “Purity.”
The Bond producers waited for director Sam Mendes to clear his schedule for “Spectre,” and they can certainly do the same with Craig. Speaking of Mendes, since he’s now helming “The Voyeur’s Motel” for DreamWorks (an adaptation of the Gay Talese non-fiction article from the April 11 issue of “The New Yorker”), he’s definitely out of the Bond picture, and has cleared the way for the producers to seek a new director.
Which is another key to luring back Craig. As co-producer, Craig’s the first Bond actor to have input into director, script and every aspect of production, which means that “Bond 25” offers a powerful creative inducement.
And while “Spectre” gave Bond a sense of closure and happiness, as he “rode off into the sunset” with Madeleine Swann (Lea Seydoux) in his Aston Martin DB5, this can very easily be undone by Blofeld (Christoph Waltz): the author of Bond’s pain.
Thus, tragedy or boredom can revive Bond’s urge to return to MI6. And, with the knowledge of his superiority, Craig’s Bond can finally have some fun with his arch enemy, which would be good news for Bond fans as well.
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