Friday, August 06, 2010

Bond Issues

Things continue to look dire for the James Bond series' longterm health, first with Entertainment Weekly's ominous cover story detailing many of the same financial landmines at MGM we've spent time discussing here and here.  Essentially, there's a $3.5 billion debt albatross dangling around the studio's neck that's not only preventing them from securing funds to make more movies, but also keeping other studios from simply buying them outright.  In other words: the perfect financial crap-storm.  And according to a new piece over at The Los Angeles Times, it's not just money woes that are hobbling Bond 23, but also the dreaded "creative difficulties" that cropped up before development was suspended:
The exact script issues on the new Bond remain shrouded in mystery, but the difficulties aren't entirely surprising given the abundance of top creators and a franchise with ever-more complex mythology. Moreover, the new Bond film has always been framed as the third in the trilogy that began with Casino Royale. And with the need to wrap up many dangling plot lines — in this case, Bond's quest for resolution after the death of romantic interest Vesper Lynd, among others — the third movie in a trilogy is typically hardest to lock down.
While director Sam Mendes (who previously worked with star Daniel Craig on Road to Perdition in 2002) had been unofficially attached to helm the new Bond flick from a Peter Morgan script, both of their involvement (and pretty much everything else) hangs in limbo until the various money and creative issues are worked out.  The way I see it (and granted it's easy for me to say because I barely have two dimes to rub together), someone like Fox or Warners should take the plunge and swallow up MGM.  While that debt amount may be staggering, it's worth it to own not only the evergreen Bond franchise, but also MGM's other crown jewel, The Hobbit, which is currently stuck in the same development hell as 007.

With Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace reaping a cool $1 billion at the global box office (and proving the Bond series' continued viability after five decades), and the Lord of the Rings franchise's record of success already proven several times over, the inherent risk in acquiring MGM is made up for by the inherent rewards of just those two properties, which will continue to pay dividends far into the future.  Everything else in the MGM back catalogue is just gravy.  On the (very small) plus side, the Times piece makes clear that, for now anyway, moving ahead without Craig isn't an option, so that's good news, at least.  Of course, the longer this whole thing stretches on, the reality of time and actuarial tables may simply make that untenable.

1 comment:

J.R. LeMar said...

I personally love Craig, and think he's the best Bond since Connery. It would be shame if they can't @ least make one more Bond film with him in it, to complete this "trilogy," since this is the first time they've really carried over plots from one film to the next. I am surprised that some studio hasn't bought MGM just for Bond and the Tolkien franchises (not to mention Stargate). And the maybe they could try to sell-off the rest of the MGM catalog to different companies, to help ease the debt.