Somebody at either Eon Productions or MGM must have some potent persuasive talents: Sam Mendes, despite expressing sentiment to the contrary, may end up at the helm of the next James Bond picture after all. The rumor comes right from an article in The Daily Mail, which suggests that Mendes has been “75%” convinced to take the wheel for Bond 24, and that pre-production could start by the end of this year or the start of 2014. The deciding factors? Whether the project will fit into Mendes’ busy theater schedule (he’s directing King Lear at the National Theatre next January, and he’s assembling a musical version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory for the Theatre Royal this coming May), and whether he likes the writing.
I can’t say I’m all that surprised. Skyfall did incredible business and is pretty much responsible for single-handedly making Bond culturally relevant again; it’s also reaping the benefits of being a winner with critics, and recently took home the BAFTA award for Outstanding British Film. Even if Mendes found the entire exercise of shooting Skyfall as exhausting as he claims, it probably wouldn’t take a whole lot of wheedling on MGM’s part to get him to break down and sign on for another Bond adventure. Besides that, Mendes isn’t too good to turn down the opportunity for repeat success.
So regardless of what he said in the past, this turnaround feels pretty natural. Credit for his change of heart can be accorded to a change in plans for Bond 24 and 25, which were originally going to be done as consecutive installments for a single story; had that concept stuck, Mendes would have been locked into making Bond movies for almost half a decade. No matter how great an achievement Skyfall is, that sort of cinematic indentured servitude doesn’t seem all that appealing; one can understand why he balked at the idea in the first place.
But that’s been dropped, and we now have a much better chance of seeing another Mendes-directed Bond movie. No guarantees just yet, of course– Mendes has made it clear that he wants to see John Logan’s finished script before he puts pen to paper, so at present nothing on this is set in stone. (And between his theater work, the timing might not work out anywhere near ideally.) For now we just have the raw potential, although given Skyfall‘s all-around excellence, potential alone is reason enough to be excited.