007 halted by MGM sale

He may come up trumps against evil villains with high-tech lairs but it seems Bond has met his match: administrative red tape.

The Bond franchise’s debt-ridden home studio MGM has been the subject of speculation for some time, with either a sale or a restructuring expected to alleviate its $3.7bn debts.

Neither have happened, however, and the Eon Productions film – Bond 23, set to be directed by the Oscar-winning Sam Mendes for a late 2011 or early 2012 release – has suspended development.

“Due to the continuing uncertainty surrounding the future of MGM and the failure to close a sale of the studio, we have suspended development of Bond 23 indefinitely,” producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli of Eon Productions explained in a statement. They added that “we do not know when development will resume and do not have a date for the release for the film”.

The new 007 film – a sequel to Quantum of Solace with Daniel Craig back as the super-spy – has already been mired in controversy after screenwriter Peter Morgan (The Queen, Frost/Nixon) was said to have quit the project following the arrival of Mendes to direct. This latest development throws even Mendes’ involvement into doubt.