[WARNING: This post contains SPOILERS for Spectre.]
Daniel Craig's fourth outing as James Bond, Spectre, was released in the U.S. this past weekend and the end results have been a mixed bag. Commercially, the film is in great shape, raking in $296.1 million worldwide thus far. However, in terms of critical reviews and fan word-of-mouth, many consider it a step down from the heights Craig and director Sam Mendes reached with Skyfall (read our review). This has caused some to wonder about the future of the franchise, and if it's time to retool 007 again.
In the weeks leading up to Spectre's premiere, Craig's less-than-flattering quotes about the famous spy indicated that he was ready to move on, but the door is always open for his return. While his films have been up and down, the actor's performances as 007 have never been an issue, and there are many fans that would like to see him come back once more. Spectre producer Michael G. Wilson is among those, but should Craig sign on for another go-around?
Speaking with THR, Wilson addressed what's next for Bond on film, revealing that contrary to initial reports, Craig is not under contract for Bond 25. Still, Wilson seems confident that EON will retain the actor, saying in his interview "I think we've got Daniel Craig."
Those who have seen Spectre know that its conclusion gives EON a clear out with regards to casting. Craig's Bond has retired and is in the process of settling down with his newfound love Madeline Swann (Léa Seydoux). Also, the plot of Spectre ties in the events of the previous three Craig films, portraying Franz Oberhauser (Christoph Waltz) as the big bad who was behind everything from Casino Royale to now. With Bond defeating him and moving past his personal demons, there may not be anywhere else to take this iteration of the character.
That's not to say there isn't a story out there to logically bring Craig back into the fold. Since Bond refused to kill Oberhauser at Spectre's end, the villain is still theoretically out there and the SPECTRE organization could reemerge as a threat. Plus, Hollywood loves the "one last mission" narrative trope, so there's easy money to be made by selling Bond 25 as a cinematic event (Craig's final run) and giving the actor a rousing sendoff that hopefully rivals Casino Royale or Skyfall in terms of execution.
A key element to all this is the Bond film distribution rights, which are currently up for grabs. If a studio other than Sony (which released the four Craig films) wins the bid, they could have some influence on the actor in the role. It wouldn't be out of the question for a company like Warner Bros. or Paramount to want to pick a Bond of their own and start anew, ushering the franchise into its next era (especially since Craig is not under contract for Bond 25). Wilson hopes to have a distributing partner chosen by February 2016, so there could be concrete news on this matter soon.
As fun as it might be to see Craig as 007 again, it may be for the best if he steps down. Spectre played as a definitive end game to this version of the character (the opening credits even recounted famous moments of Craig's tenure), so adding one more to his film count could come off as anti-climactic or forced. And besides, the 25th James Bond film is going to be an event unto itself, meaning it would be a better time than ever to introduce moviegoers to the next one in line.
Spectre is now playing in theaters.