James Bond’s New Boss? Guy Richie’s the Odds-On Favorite to Direct Next 007

Mark Deming
Movie Talk

Now that Sam Mendes is official out as director of the next James Bond picture, who is going to be guiding 007's next assignment? A British bookie has stepped in to make the guessing game interesting.

Mendes, who directed the critical and box office smash "Skyfall," was a likely candidate to helm the twenty-fourth Bond picture until he took himself out of the running, announcing Wednesday that he'd be devoting himself to directing theater pieces for the next few years and was unavailable. Movie buffs quickly took to the internet, speculating on who will get the plum assignment, and William Hill, one of the U.K.'s leading betting and odds-making concerns, have decided to get into the act. They've been posting odds on who will be in the director's char of the next Bond film, and so far, they like Guy Ritchie.

Richie, director of the two "Sherlock Holmes" films with Robert Downey Jr. and a handful of gritty, offbeat crime thrillers such as "Snatch," "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" and "RocknRolla," has been given 4/1 odds to land the assignment by William Hill. Rupert Adams, a spokesman for William Hill, said, "The 'Sherlock Holmes' films have been an enormous success and we believe that Guy Ritchie is the man to be entrusted with the Bond franchise, although Bond by Quentin Tarantino would make interesting viewing."

Adams may think Tarantino would be an interesting choice, but he doesn't believe it's likely to happen. Odds on Tarantino landing the project are currently 33/1, the same as Clint Eastwood and James Cameron, who like Tarantino tend to take enough ownership of their projects that's hard to imagine them working for producers who would carefully oversee their vision.

Faring better at William Hill are two well-respected American auteurs, Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg. Scorsese, who has a strong background in smart action thrillers (though he seems to prefer following the bad guys), is currently a 9/1 choice to direct Bond 24, and Spielberg, an old hand with a grand scale blockbuster, is in at 10/1.

Martin Campbell has already made two Bond films, "Casino Royale" and "GoldenEye," and William Hill guesses he's a got a 9/1 chance to be asked back for the next installment. While Ang Lee and Ridley Scott are thought to be more likely to end up behind the camera than Tarantino, their odds are at 25/1, making them poor prospects at best.
And if you can't imagine Tim Burton making a Bond flick, neither can William Hill; he's a 50/1 longshot, especially since his body of work suggests he'd want the producers to cast Johnny Depp as 007.

Keep in mind that Sam Mendes made his directorial debut in 1999 with "American Beauty," and if someone was laying odds then that he'd direct a wildly successful James Bond picture thirteen years after guiding Kevin Spacey though a midlife crisis, they would have been laughed at.