New Report: Sam Mendes Is Back On to Direct ‘Bond 24′

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Sam Mendes is either very good at bluffing, or he's the sort of man who sometimes changes his mind. Despite previous denials, it looks like Mendes, the man behind the mega-hit "Skyfall," will be directing the next two James Bond thrillers after all.

Roger Friedman of the entertainment news site Showbiz 411 is reporting that Mendes is "as confirmed as it can be" as director of what is currently called “Bond 24,” and he’s all but certain to be behind the cameras for Bond 25 as well. It’s reported that John Logan, who co-wrote “Skyfall,” is already at work on the screenplays for both movies. Friedman did not name his sources in his story.

After directing “Skyfall,” the top-grossing James Bond film to date, Eon Productions and Sony Pictures were understandably eager to have Mendes come back for the next installment in the 007 franchise. However, Mendes initially announced he would not be returning to the series. A noted stage director, Mendes had already committed himself to two major theatrical projects for 2013, a new musical adaptation of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” and a production of Shakespeare’s “King Lear” for Britain’s National Theater, with Simon Russell Beale in the lead. In addition to his other commitments, Mendes supposedly balked at initial plans to shoot the next two Bond pictures in tandem.

Mendes also expressed mixed feeling about making more Bond films in an interview with the Guardian UK in April. “Was I willing to go straight back into a room with a writer and start work on the same set of characters and the same scenarios as I've been working on for the last three years? No,” Mendes said. "The idea made me feel physically ill.”

However, it seems Eon and Sony were willing to let their checkbook do the talking; as Friedman put it, “Mendes obviously got what he wanted and will be a rich, rich man when his time with James Bond is over.” This latest report comes during a week of widespread speculation about the director of the next Bond picture, with Nicolas Winding Refn ("Drive"), Ang Lee ("Life of Pi"), Christopher Nolan (“Inception”), Shane Black (“Iron Man 3”), Tom Hooper (“Les Miserables”) and David Yates (“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”) all being cited as possible candidates for the assignment.

Along with Mendes, Daniel Craig is expected to return as the suave super spy for the next two Bond films, as will Ralph Finnes as M, Ben Whishaw as Q, and Naomie Harris as Miss Moneypenny. There’s been no word yet on how Mendes’ new Bond assignments will impact his schedule for “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” or "King Lear," or if the two 007 movies will be shot separately or together.