It's forty-nine years since Her Majesty's finest agent first showed up on screen, chugging martinis and slapping tarts, like Chris Brown on a Noel Coward apprenticeship. Since then, he's been through more faces than Jocelyn Wildenstein, and saved the world countless times without ever rumpling his dinner jacket.
When Daniel Craig was cast as 007's latest incarnation, not everyone was pleased about it. He may have had the body of an adonis, but he also boasted a face like a blacksmith's knuckles. And yet, despite the outcry from the hardcore fanbase, Craig's gentleman thug was just what the franchise needed to drag it back from Brosnan's brink. Anyone who sat through Die Another Day's arctic windsurfing scene knew that a healthy dose of gritty realism was the only way the series could ever return to form.
Just as Casino Royale and Quantum Of Solace proved that Bond could make Jason Bourne his bitch, the wheels suddenly came off the invisible Jaguar. MGM fell into financial difficulties, and with it, hopes for Bond 23 went up in a puff of Montecristo smoke. Thankfully, the legal wrangles are now done and dusted, and James' newest adventure is being fast-tracked for a 2012 release.
But before you throw on that safari suit and drive a 2CV through a vineyard in celebration, you might want to exercise a little caution. It seems that the next installment will see our hero tackling a modern-world threat more insidious than any organised crime syndicate with a spooky acronym, as he goes head-to-head with product placement.
The script practically writes itself. A process which helps to explain how Moonraker ever came into being.
The principle of prominent branding is nothing new to the Bond franchise. Whether he's synchronising a detonator with his Omega watch, speeding away from an explosion in a remote-controlled BMW, or putting a Band-Aid on Mary Goodnight's split lip as he explains that she made him do it, James has always been comfortable sharing the spotlight with logos. This time, however, he may finally have met his match.
Early reports are suggesting that MGM and Sony are planning to procure $45 million in product placement deals to help fund the next film. Given that Quantum cost an incomprehensible $230 million, I guess they're going to need every penny. To put things into perspective, consider the fact that Minority Report held the previous record, with $20 million worth of in-movie advertising. At least in that film, Spielberg had the excuse that the brands helped to add verisimilitude to the near-future setting.
So what next for Bond? Well, those premium brands will only bring home a percentage of that lofty target. In which case, producers EON may need to lower their expectations if they're going to raise the whole amount. Need an ex-KGB insider? Simples, just cast a monocle-wearing meerkat. Judi Dench's stern matriarch could be renamed Mmmm Mattessons. And when it comes to finding a larger-than-life villain, why not go for a tubby opera singer responsible for a global car insurance conspiracy? The script practically writes itself. A process which helps to explain how Moonraker ever came into being.
Best of all, they could drag Dionne Warwick away from the Psychic Friends Network long enough to re-record her 'alternative' Bond theme from Thunderball. Mr. Kiss Kiss Cillit Bang anyone?
Click here for more stories about TV & Film
Click here to follow Sabotage Times on Twitter
Click here to follow Sabotage Times on Facebook