Skyfall director Sam Mendes has confirmed he won't be returning to the next Bond film, despite Skyfall's stellar success.
Speaking to Empire magazine, Mendes said it had been a "very difficult decision" to decline producer Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli's offer to direct a Skyfall follow-up, currently known as Bond 24.
"Directing Skyfall was one of the best experiences of my professional life, but I have theatre and other commitments … that need my complete focus over the next year and beyond."
In a statement, Wilson and Broccoli said: "We thoroughly enjoyed working with Sam, he directed our most successful Bond movie ever, Skyfall. We would have loved to have made the next film with him but completely respect his decision to focus on other projects and hope to have the opportunity to collaborate with him again."
Mendes cited forthcoming stage productions of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and King Lear as the main factors in his decision; he is also attached as director to Netherland, adapted from the Joseph O'Neill novel, and has producer credits on a number of other forthcoming projects.
Skyfall's staggering box office impact – it is by far the most successful Bond film, with a worldwide take currently standing at $1.11bn – had led to suggestions that Mendes might take up the reins again. But with a track record of Oscar-bait dramas including American Beauty and Revolutionary Road, Mendes will be reluctant to become identified with a blockbuster action franchise. He did, however, leave the door open for the future. "I feel very honoured to have been part of the Bond family," he said, "and very much hope I have a chance to work with them again sometime in the future."
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