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Casino Royale to be 21st Bond film

Story by: Jack Foley

CASINO Royale is to be updated and remade into the 21st Bond film, it was confirmed this week (Friday, February 4, 2005).

Bond producers EON and MGM said that the film will be a new version of the very first Ian Fleming book, which has already been turned into an unofficial Bond movie, starring David Niven.

The news comes on the day former Bond star, Pierce Brosnan, officially waved farewell to the franchise with a message of thanks to his supporters relayed via his personal website.

The message reads: "I would like to thank all of you who have supported me over the last year or so in regard to my playing Bond. But everything comes to an end, and one must accept this decision which cannot be dealt with in any other way but with some kind of grace and knowledge that I did the job to the best of my ability."

News of Casino Royale is likely to confuse 007 fans, however, given that it was the film that both Brosnan and director, Quentin Tarantino, said they wished to make next.

Both Brosnan and Tarantino said they thought the Bond franchise needed to return to more plot-based stories, than special effects driven adventures, only to be given the cold-shoulder by the makers.

Speaking at the Kill Bill 2 press conference, Tarantino said: "I would really love to do a Bond film. But I would like to do Casino Royale, which hasn't been filmed, other than that stupid version in the Sixties. It's one of the best stories and the first film, so it's ironic that it's never been done.

"My movie would be different to Bond movies of late, but if the producers agreed to do it, they really couldn't lose. And if I could do it my way, then I'd love to have the opportunity."

The opportunity to do so has, however, been given to Goldeneye director, Martin Campbell, who has until 2006 to get things right - and find a star.

According to a statement from Martin G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli : "We are thrilled that Martin has accepted our offer to direct Casino Royale. He is an extremely talented director and we believe he will help take our films in a new and exciting direction."

It is thought that by returning to the source material, the Bond franchise could be headed back to basics, building on the success of recent spy movies such as The Bourne Supremacy, which combined gritty action with taut storylines in which characters never felt wasted.

Casino Royale sees Bond being given orders to kill a Russian spy at a casino, only to become distracted by the attentions of a deadly female spy.

The next problem for the producers, however, is casting the role.

With Brosnan now firmly out of the picture, the focus has returned to bookies' favourites Dougray Scott and Clive Owen.

Scott is the out-and-out leader of the pack following reports that several betting chains had closed the book on him - although Owen remains in contention following his Golden Globe win and Oscar nomination, for Closer.

And now that a title and director is in place, don't bet against the new identity of the world's greatest secret agent being revealed soon.

Watch this space...

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