After months of whispers, rumors, and speculation about the fate of James Bond 23, we finally have an official announcement from EON Productions and MGM Studios regarding its star, its writers, its director, and its much anticipated release date.

It’ll come as no surprise that Daniel Craig is returning to fill Bond’s very expensive shoes, with a screenplay by frequent Bond writers Neal Purvis and Robert Wade (as well as newcomer John Logan of The Aviator fame). Also unsurprising is the announcement that the oft-rumored Sam Mendes (American Beauty) will be directing.

Check out the press release below:

Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli of EON Productions, together with Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum, Co-Chairmen and Chief Executive Officers of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc., today announced that the 23rd James Bond film will commence production in late 2011 for a worldwide release on November 9, 2012.

Daniel Craig will be returning as the legendary British secret agent, with Sam Mendes directing a screenplay written by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and John Logan.

We reported last month that MGM and EON was keen on releasing a James Bond movie in 2012, otherwise known as the fiftieth anniversary of Dr. No., and that an announcement regarding that film and its particulars was likely forthcoming.

Besides the specific November release date — since Daniel Craig, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, and Sam Mendes were already all but a lock — the other news in this press release is that Peter Morgan (Frost/Nixon) is off screenwriting duties and John Logan is on. Does this mean that the “shocking” work Morgan did on the film was thrown out entirely, or has it just been expanded upon by Logan? Only the ghost of Albert Broccoli knows for sure.

The last Bond film, The Quantum of Solace, was a fairly disappointing venture in my opinion — especially when juxtaposed next to the previous outing, Casino Royale. I can only speak for myself when I say that I’m cautiously optimistic about Bond 23. Sam Mendes proved with Road to Perdition that he can stage some pretty intense, not to mention gorgeous, action scenes. Hopefully he can do the same with James Bond, minus some of the more depressing aspects. (Though a little sadness and emotion in a James Bond movie can go a long way, e.g. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.)

James Bond 23 hits theaters November 9th, 2012, fifty years, one month, and four days after the first James Bond movie. Keep your eyes on the main page for more Bond news as we get it.