When tabloid and nerdy film blogs (ahem) raced to report that Daniel Craig was finished with the James Bond franchise after Spectre, one piece of evidence that was trotted out to support this theory was Craig's role in Showtime’s upcoming limited series Purity. Surely if Craig was signing onto a ten-episode series set to film in 2017, that had to mean he was all done with 007, yeah?
Not necessarily, at least according to Showtime CEO David Nevins who, for some unfathomable reason, seems perfectly okay with the idea of his new cable series featuring the current James Bond, as opposed to an ex-James Bond. (To be fair, Showtime has been down af with former 007s too, as evidenced by my man T Dalt killing it on the excellent Penny Dreadful.)
Here’s what Nevins said at TCA yesterday, according to Deadline.
“It depends when they do the next James Bond movie, but I don’t think it precludes him is the answer,” Showtime CEO David Nevins said at TCA on Thursday. “This will largely be completed during the course of 2017, depending how long they’re willing to wait and shoot the next Bond. There might be some breaks somewhere, but [production] will be fairly continuous.”
Craig returning to the Bond franchise could only help Showtime’s series, so Nevins' comment is no real surprise. But will Eon wait that long? MGM will; they’ve told their shareholders they don’t expect a new Bond film until 2018 or 2019. And there’s some evidence that suggests waiting for Craig might be the smart play.
A new distribution partner has yet to materialize, some six months after producer Michael Wilson’s estimate of "January or February." Suitors are no doubt not going to accept the same deal Sony did (50% of the production costs and 100% of the marketing costs in exchange for 20% of the profits; by most accounts Barbara Broccoli made more on Skyfall than Sony). Sony got a pretty raw deal, and coming up with a Bond 25 that comes in well under Spectre's 250 million dollar budget might help on that front. You can bet that Eon and MGM are fielding offers from just about every studio, but meanwhile the Tom Hiddleston talks seem to have quieted down, and one wonders if there’s a case to be made that Eon and MGM could land a more attractive distribution deal with the returning Craig (whose last two Bond films made a combined 1.98 billion dollars) as bait than with a new, untested face in the dinner jacket.
Anything can happen; we’re rebooting things faster than ever now, and audience impatience for the next new thing is at an all-time high. But is that impatience worth gambling on a new Bond in what would almost have to be a reduced budget? A new guy showing up in a scaled-down 007 adventure worked wonders in 2006, but how would it play in 2018? Are new distribution partners envisioning bigger profits in a scenario in which Daniel Craig - the guy who, whatever your take on his films, reinvigorated the franchise - returns for a “back-to-basics” final entry?