Image Credit: Karen BallardSomewhere in a hollowed-out volcano, a bald guy with a cat on his lap is doing a spit take. No matter how many times it looks as if James Bond has been killed for sure, the super-suave secret agent always manages to bounce back to life. Today's announcement that the long-delayed 23rd installment of the 007 franchise was finally gearing up for production — with a release date of Nov. 9, 2012 — was the narrowest escape Bond has had since Goldfinger almost circumcised him with a laser beam. Last April, money troubles at debt-hobbled MGM forced Bond's producers to suspend the film's pre-production "indefinitely," which triggered an avalanche of speculation. Would Bond ever return? Or would the most successful action series in motion picture history be tangled up for years in lawsuits and bankruptcy proceedings?

In the end, MGM made a deal with Spyglass Entertainment that saved Bond not a moment too soon. Since the suspension, Daniel Craig has been filling up his date book with lots of other projects, like Cowboys and Aliens and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Squeezing a six-month Bond shoot into his schedule was only going to get more and more difficult. Sam Mendes is still slated to direct, but Peter Morgan, who was writing the script for Bond 23 before the suspension, has apparently been replaced by John Logan, the ex-playwright who penned the screenplays for The Last Samurai and The Aviator. Of course, there's no word yet on what the plot of the next James Bond movie will be, but for now it's relief enough to know that there actually will be a next James Bond movie. Because no, Mr. Bond, we don't expect you to die. Ever.

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