Sam Mendes In Talks To Direct 'Bond 24' [Updated]

Skyfall was a smash, and naturally EON Productions, MGM and Sony want to get a new James Bond film rolling with all due speed. All the companies involved want to get their money's worth out of Daniel Craig while they've got him. The Bond machine doesn't move quickly, however, and it's no easy task to choose the path for the new installment of a franchise that is 50 years old and almost two dozen films along.

Since Sam Mendes won't return to make the 24th Bond film (title TBD) who might do the job? EON is talking to a variety of people now, and some of the names are being reported. Ang Lee, Tom Hooper, David Yates, Nicolas Winding Refn, and Shane Black are all "in the mix" as possible directors. That doesn't mean that any of them will be the person who next brings Bond to life, but it gives us something to think about.

Update: Everyone may have spoken too soon. Deadline reports that Sam Mendes is in talks to return to direct Bond 24. More below.

Firstshowing talked to Refn, who made some vague hints about doing Bond. But there's hardly anything conclusive here. And when Refn's own working methods are, by his own admission, not quite in keeping with the big machine of a Bond film, he seems like a wild left-field choice. (Especially after his new film Only God Forgives was ripped apart at Cannes for being all style and little substance. Then again, that approach has worked for Bond before.)

Variety also references that Refn is part of the conversation, but focuses on the other directors. Ang Lee just bailed on making the Tyrant pilot because he said he needed time to rest after working four years on Life of Pi. Making a Bond film is not anyone's idea of rest, which makes Lee seem like a longshot. He might actually be the best choice for the job, however. Under Lee, there's little doubt that Bond 24 would have all the qualities that audiences respond to, from action to the deeper touches of character that set the Craig films apart from others.

I'd love to see Shane Black make the film, but  he's just got the go-ahead to make the Doc Savage film he's wanted to do for a while, and I wonder if he'd be willing to walk away from that. He's now the director of one of the biggest films ever, which means he's got some freedom. Would he give that up to spend three or four years as a cog for EON?  Plus, some of the concepts that gave rise to Bond, and which underlie the series, have been things Black has consistently played with throughout his career. Watching him tackle the character head-on would be fun, but it doesn't seem like him.

David Yates seems like the easy choice, as he's proven he's got a way with established franchises and that he can make a lively film that works within such parameters. And Tom Hooper is a genre-crossing Oscar winner who, being British, might stand toe to toe with Yates as the "obvious" choice. I suspect his own Bond film would fall into the "style over substance" camp, too.

Update: OK, just after all this info hit, Deadline comes in with the scoop that Mendes is in talks to direct, saying categorically that "Mendes will be the director of the next Bond." John Logan is writing. There's also the mention that producers want Mendes enough to wait for him to finish the UK and Broadway runs of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory... whether that means the next Bond film is further off than we had previously assumed is open to question.