James Bond fans are likely to be shaken and indeed stirred by the fact that the latest instalment in the 007 franchise has been put on hold. The reason everyone's favourite Eton-educated, martini-drinking spy has been sent on indefinite gardening leave is that Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the Hollywood studio which owns the rights to the Bond franchise, is likely to go bust unless it finds a buyer relatively soon.
In recent decades, successive owners of what was once the dominant force in Hollywood – the studio that gave the world Gone With the Wind and The Wizard of Oz – have loaded it up with debt, while failing to stem the collapse in revenues. Despite the profits generated by the 22 Bond films, the studio has managed to lose money just about everywhere else. And now MGM's bankers have decided to pull the plug and are forcing a sale. The trouble is that there do not seem to be any buyers out there for a hollowed-out film studio whose best days are behind it.
James Bond has been up against a wide range of villains over the years, from the KGB, to Specter, to mad industrialists, to brutal drug barons. Perhaps it's now time for a 007 showdown with an incompetent Hollywood studio boss.