Sam Mendes hosted the press launch to mark production of Spectre at Pinewood Studios in 2015.
BY LEE PFEIFFER
Director Sam Mendes brought the James Bond franchise to an all-time high in terms of critical acclaim and boxoffice receipts with the 2012 release of "Skyfall", which marked the 50th anniversary of the movie series. He then announced he would not be on board for the next 007 flick, "Spectre". However, after much negotiating (and presumably a boatload more money), Mendes relented and directed that film as well. While not enjoying the hype and response that "Skyfall" did, "Spectre" was also a major international hit grossing close to $900 million, outdone only by "Skyfall", which racked up a gross of $1.1 billion. Now Mendes says he won't direct the next Bond film- and this time he says he means it. Mendes has nothing but good things to say about working on two 007 blockbusters but says it's now time for a new director with a new vision. He also says he doesn't know whether Daniel Craig will continue in the role. Craig, who has done four Bond films to date, has made conflicting statements about his desire to continue in the role. Mendes says that the ultimate decision will be left to producer Barbara Broccoli, who initially championed Craig for the part when virtually everyone else thought he would make a poor choice. That was then and this is now and Craig has enjoyed enormous popularity among the fan base. Still, while diamonds may be forever, a Bond actor's lock on the role isn't. Way back when Sean Connery left the series after "You Only Live Twice" in 1967 many critics predicted the end of the franchise. It would be too inconceivable, they said, to consider anyone else in the role. Over a half-century later, however ,the series is thriving. Bond is cool again even for kids and there is no signs of the character or the films running out of steam. Doubtless, the producers don't look forward to the stress involved in finding a new actor but they have succeeded many times before. George Lazenby played the part very well in his one turn before quitting the series in 1969. Connery came back in 1971 for one film before Roger Moore took the helm for a successful string of films that lasted from 1973 to 1985. Timothy Dalton played the part twice and Pierce Brosnan proved to be the Bond of the new era with four major successes between 1995-2002. Craig began the role in 2006 with "Casino Royale" and has been the Bond of record since. (Before the purists complain, we'll acknowledge that Connery returned again to the role in 1983 with "Never Say Never Again" but the production was not part of the official franchise.) The recent respectability the Bond films have enjoyed from the critical establishment has also upped the ante in terms of who directs the next film. Gone are the days when Bond directors would be dismissed as being workmanlike in their skill. In fact, a new generation of critics is far more complimentary toward some of the previous directors than critics had been at the time of the movies' original releases. The franchise is now attracting "name" directors who might have once avoided being pigeon-holed as a 007 director. One thing seems certain: any major decisions about the next Bond films seem to be quite a ways off. Even if Craig can be lured back to the role, he is committed to some high profile projects in the coming months. For more click here.