Sam Mendes still on board Bond 23, while MGM sinks

Interesting to read in Business Week that MGM loans are now trading at 43 cents in the dollar, down from 65 cents at the beginning of 2010 and now valuing the company at $1.6 billion, just a shade above Time Warner’s reported bid of $1.5 billion.

The studio’s lenders are now in a battle with management over how to take MGM forward; however, with no movie experience they are struggling to understand how to do it. With Bond 23 put on hold and Guillermo del Toro pulling out as director of The Hobbit after 2 years work it is difficult to see MGM continuing as a going concern.

With no movies in the pipeline it ceases to be a studio; and what else does it have other than an interest in the James Bond films and its back catalogue?

We may therefore soon see its assets being disposed of, which means that MGM’s stake in Danjaq – holding company of EON Productions – may be up for sale. Surely Sony will be after that, as they have repeatedly expressed an interest in participating in future Bond films.

One thing that is encouraging is Sam Mendes’ position on Bond 23, demonstrating that he might believe the end is in sight; he reportedly remains committed to Bond 23 and intends to direct it once given the green light. He has recently committed to direct stage musical Charlie and the Chocolate Factory for a holiday 2011 premiere in London; he is also planning on directing On Chesil Beach, an adaptation of the Ian McEwan novella, but that currently has no release date.

While Charlie and the Chocolate Factory appears to conflict with a 2011 release for Bond 23, principal photography on Bond would have been completed in the spring, giving him enough time to direct the stage production; while it might be tight both projects could co-exist.

Fingers crossed that some kind of resolution is reached soon and Bond 23 – officially on hold, whatever the real situation – gets the go ahead soon; from whoever.

David Leigh founded The James Bond Dossier in 2002. A fan of 007 since the age of 8, he is also author of The Complete Guide to the Drinks of James Bond. You can order a copy here if you don't own it already.

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