James Bond, Daniel Craig

These are dark days for James Bond fans. It will likely be years before 007 returns to the screen, thanks to money troubles at MGM, Bond’s longtime studio, which has been up for sale since November. Even Daniel Craig seems to have moved on, signing up for the lead in a different potential franchise, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The last time the Bond series was put on this sort of “indefinite” hold was back in the early 1990s, after a series of legal battles (and Timothy Dalton) nearly wrecked the series. It took six years to get it up and running again. And in Hollywood today, six years is an eternity. “No franchise can afford to be away from screens for that long anymore,” says a former MGM exec. “You lose too much momentum. Even for Bond, it could be deadly.” Of course, Bond has defied death before — just ask Blofeld — so we’re not counting him out just yet. One possibility: “[MGM] should sell the Bond franchise for a billion dollars to some sovereign company in Abu Dhabi and promise to make Bond movies in Abu Dhabi from now on,” suggest one financial analyst familiar with the MGM sale. The name is Bond, Jamal Bond. We could live with that.

For more on the Bond franchise’s woes, pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly, on stands August 6th.