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Next Bond Film Delayed Until 2006

It looks like super-spy James Bond can keep his tuxedo in the closet for at least another year.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc., on the verge of being sold to a group of companies led by Sony Corp. , has pushed back its target release date from November 2005 until sometime in 2006, a spokesman for the film studio said Thursday.

He cited the failure so far to line up a director for the movie, which would mark the 21st installment of MGM’s venerable film franchise.

MGM, which together with EON Productions owns the Bond movie rights and distributes the films, had insisted as recently as late July that a script was being worked on and the next film was on track to arrive in theaters in November 2005.

But without a director on board by summer’s end, producers were not sure they could begin shooting as planned in January or February in order to make a November deadline for release, the spokesman said.

“We’re not going to be the slave to a release date or shoe-horn it in so we can make a date,” he said, adding, “We’re still in the development process.”

One factor in the delay has been MGM executives’ preoccupation with negotiations leading to the recent deal for a Sony-led consortium to acquire the studio for about $2.85 billion plus debt, one insider told Reuters.

“We had plenty on our plates in the last few months,” the source said. “Moving forward on Bond is always a process of agreement between us and EON, and that requires 50-50 agreement, and that’s never a simple thing.”

Another question mark is whether Irish-born actor Pierce Brosnan would return to star as the suave secret agent.

1st October , 2004