''Bond 23'' starring Daniel Craig and directed by Sam Mendes, is put on hold due to financial uncertainty at MGM

By Nicole Sperling
April 30, 2010 at 04:00 AM EDT

James Bond finally met a nemesis that outmatches him: cash troubles. Last week, EON Productions, the company behind the longest-running film franchise ever, announced that Bond 23 was indefinitely on hold due to the financial uncertainty surrounding its partner and financier MGM. (The once legendary studio is up for auction but has failed to sell.) As such, everything about the latest Bond caper, including its lead Daniel Craig and its potential director Sam Mendes, is in limbo.

Some speculate that EON will try to wrest the rights to the billion-dollar franchise from MGM and partner with either Sony, which cofinanced and distributed Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace, or Twentieth Century Fox, which manages its DVD distribution. But over the last five decades, EON hasn’t moved its franchise to a more stable home, which is an indication that it can’t (or won’t). ”You can’t separate Bond from MGM — it goes with the sale,” says one insider. ”This is just the first time that the financials have gotten so complicated they can’t proceed on the schedule they want to.” (Calls to EON were not returned.)

In the meantime, the talent isn’t waiting around. Craig is set to start shooting Jon Favreau‘s Cowboys & Aliens. And Mendes, who had only been hired as a consultant since there was no start date or finished script, is scheduled to meet with Disney in the next few weeks about directing a Wizard of Oz prequel. All of which leaves one superagent on an unexpected sabbatical.