Here we are in what has become a familiar place for the James Bond franchise: a crossroads.
With the recent release of the 24th Bond film, Spectre, and the 4th outing for one, Daniel Craig, discussion has been rampant about where the 007 franchise goes next.
We have an aging star pushing 50 (Daniel Craig is 47), a lukewarm, recent entry into the franchise (Spectre) and a dilemma of how to make this legendary character - who has been a stalwart in cinemas since 1962's Dr. No starring Sean Connery - relevant to modern day audiences.
If this situation sounds at all recognizable, it's because it's eerily similar to where the franchise was more than a decade ago.
Back in 2002, Pierce Brosnan had just appeared in what would be his final entry as James Bond in Die Another Day. It was also the actor's 4th outing at the character and he himself was pushing 50 as well at the age of 49. The film itself had gotten a lukewarm reception and the heads of Eon Productions - Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli - knew they had to go in a new, different direction with the character.
Enter GoldenEye director Martin Campbell and little-known British actor Daniel Craig to reboot the series with 2006's darker, grittier Casino Royale (which relied on no gadgets and all muscle) and the rest, they say, is history.
Almost a decade later though, we seem to be at a point where this recent era for James Bond may in fact be over.
Along with all the preceding points I've made regarding the state of the franchise, there's also the matter of the distribution rights being up for grabs.
Columbia Pictures (under the SONY flag) has co-distributed the films with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) since the aforementioned Casino Royale (another comparison to the post-Brosnan era as a new studio was brought in to distribute) but their rights have now expired following the release of Spectre.
Many studios are currently eager to win the bidding to get James Bond - including Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox, and Universal - but nothing's been set in stone yet.
There's also the matter of whichever studio winning the rights to realize the difficulty in making a profit off a 007 entry. 2012's Skyfall made over $1.1 billion at the worldwide box office, but Columbia Pictures only made $57 million off the project. That was all they got after making up the production and marketing costs, on top of exhibitors getting their share and well as filmmakers involved and Eon Productions themselves. It's why reports have put Spectre at needing to reach $650 million worldwide just to turn a profit, it's pricey.
So you're probably wondering what I make of all this (or maybe not) and want to know my prediction for the James Bond franchise?
Well, for starters, as much as I love Daniel Craig in the role, I think he's had his swan song (though I imagine he wishes the results for his final outing would have been better). As far as the franchise's co-distribution rights with MGM goes, I think Warner Bros. will be the studio to get it. They currently have a good relationship with MGM with their upcoming release of Creed, and word is that their studio head Kevin Tsujihara is the frontrunner to win the bidding by Eon Productions. Finally, with all that said, I think we'll be getting a new, rebooted James Bond once again, likely in 2018 or 2019.
I think the character can take a cue out of the Mission: Impossible franchise in keeping things action-packed, but at the same time fun and dramatic. Mission: Impossible - Rouge Nation was a perfect balance of this, and I thought was much better and well done than Spectre. Hey, maybe get that film's writer/director Christoper McQuarrie to do the new film, it could definitely work.
As for the new James Bond, I have no clue who gets the role, though I will state this: it's too damn bad Henry Cavill is Superman. That guy fits the bill as a classic James Bond perfectly. He also has a great relationship with Warner Bros. as well and was ironically runner-up to Daniel Craig for Casino Royale but was deemed to young at the time (22 years-old). Anyway, until that day comes, we'll just have to wait and see what happens going forward.
James Bond's not going anywhere, he's just in a period of transition...again.