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Daniel Craig’s James Bond needs continuity. After a smashing debut by Martin Campbell (Casino Royale), Craig suffered at the hands of Mark Forster (Quantum of Solace). The character – nay, the entire franchise – was redeemed when Sam Mendes took over for Skyfall, prompting most Bond fans to lobby for the American Beauty director to return for the next film, at least.
Sadly, it isn’t happening. Mendes tells Empire:
It has been a very difficult decision not to accept Michael [Wilson] and Barbara [Broccoli]’s very generous offer to direct the next Bond movie. Directing Skyfall was one of the best experiences of my professional life, but I have theatre and other commitments, including productions of Charlie And The Chocolate Factory (a new musical adaptation, in the West End) and King Lear (at the National Theatre in London in 2014, to star Simon Russell Beale), that need my complete focus over the next year and beyond.”
So a Chocolate Factory stole Mendes away from Bond, which is a damn shame because he’s the best director outside of Campbell that I believe the series has ever had. Skyfall, if you didn’t know, has become the highest-grossing installment in the Bond franchise. And it was one of the first to generate legitimate Best Picture buzz, earning noms for cinematography, sound mixing and score while winning Oscars for sound editing and original song.
But Mendes seemed to understand Bond in ways past filmmakers taking a crack at the series did not, and it’s a disappointment that he will not get to collaborate with Craig and the team on the next chapter. Hopefully the producers at least learned that hiring a seasoned filmmaker with deep cinematic roots is vital to the success of Bond. Suggestions made by savvy fans on Twitter this morning already tossed out names like Danny Boyle and Duncan Jones for the next Bond.
The franchise is in a very interesting place right now, having had Mendes move some key pieces (and important characters) to the start of a new storyline. Getting the next voice will be very important into determining how relevant Bond will remain in coming years.