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After Spectre, James Bonds future is uncertain
Daniel Craig stars as James Bond in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures/Columbia Pictures/EON Productions action adventure SPECTRE. - photo by Jeff Peterson
The James Bond movies are the longest continually running franchise in Hollywood history. (Sorry, Godzilla, you dont count.) With this weeks release of Spectre poised to take over the box office yet again, Ian Flemings superspy doesnt look likely to stop anytime soon.

The 24th film in the series, Spectre sees British thespian Daniel Craig once again step into the role originated by Sean Connery in 1962, with Academy Award-winning director Sam Mendes also returning.

Its a creative team that has already demonstrated itself in a big way. The duos previous collaboration, 2012s Skyfall, set a new franchise record, earning $1.1 billion worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo.

Skyfall also became the highest-grossing film ever in the United Kingdom.

But even though Bonds latest globetrotting adventure will almost definitely be another huge hit, maybe even topping Skyfall, 007s future is, for a few reasons, up in the air right now.

For one thing, as detailed in a recent article by The Wall Street Journal, Spectre marks the end of a distribution deal between 007s rights holders (MGM and Eon/Danjaq) and Sony that began with Casino Royale. This has left other studios like Warner Bros. and Universal trying to maneuver their way in to snag a piece of what is becoming, even after more than 50 years, an increasingly valuable property.

So far, Warner Bros. has been the most aggressive, according to Deadline Hollywood, but even studios like Disney could be in the mix.

Regardless of which studio steps in as distributor, Bond will return, probably sooner than later. However, it might not be Daniel Craig sipping vodka martinis next time around.

As wildly popular as Craigs portrayal of 007 has been ever since he took over from previous Bond actor Pierce Brosnan in Casino Royale, the 47-year-old is, to put it mildly, not keen on doing another.

Speaking to Time Out London (there is some swearing in the article) about the prospect of making another Bond movie, Craig said, Id rather break this glass and slash my wrists . All I want to do is move on.

Craigs contract, according to longtime series producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, is open-ended, allowing him to exit whenever he wants. Broccolis preference, though, she says, according to The Huffington Post, would be for him to continue playing the role forever. "I think it's always like asking a woman, who is going up the aisle, who her next husband is going to be," she told a group of journalists on the set of "Spectre," according to Cinemablend. "Daniel Craig is Bond. So ask me when we're looking for a new Bond, which will hopefully not be for a long time."

Nevertheless, people are already talking up who could play the worlds most famous secret agent next should Craig decide not to return.

Other names that have been tossed around include Hugh Jackman, Michael Fassbender, Tom Hardy, Tom Hiddleston and Homeland star Damien Lewis.

According to U.K. bookmakers (via The Hollywood Reporter), the current favorite to win the role with 5/2 odds is Idris Elba, the star of things like the BBCs Luther, Pacific Rim and Netflixs Beasts of No Nation. Elba would be the first black Bond a fact which, given the pre-Casino Royale campaign to get Craig fired for having blond hair, would no doubt prove controversial.

Of course, when it comes to Craig and 007, never say never (again). After all, following 1967s You Only Live Twice, Sean Connery actually quit the role for a time, but later returned to it not once, but twice, first for 1971s Diamonds Are Forever after Australian actor George Lazenbys single-movie stint in On Her Majestys Secret Service, and again in 1983, concurrent with then-James Bond Roger Moore.

At 47, Craig is by no means the oldest actor to play the character, either. Moore was 45 the first time he played Bond in 1971, and he continued in the role for 12 years.

As many have noted, Craigs comments came at the end of a grueling eight-month shoot, during which time the actor sustained a serious knee injury. When asked later on in the same interview with Time Out London about giving up the role for good, Craigs response was a little less definitive: "I haven't given it any thought. For at least a year or two, I just don't want to think about it. I don't know what the next step is. I've no idea. Not because I'm trying to be cagey. At the moment, we've done it. I'm not in discussion with anybody about anything.

However, he also added, If I did another Bond movie, it would only be for the money."
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