The always-awesome Bob Balaban has confirmed via Twitter that the reigning 007 will no longer be co-starring in George Clooney’s ensemble WW2 art heist opus, The Monuments Men.  Bummer.  On the brightside, ole James has been replaced by Jason Bourne himself:  Matt Damon.  The film, which still features a monumentally (har har har) awesome cast, has just began production in Berlin and is slated for a December 18th release this year.  That’s “what happened”.  Now let’s talk about the “why”.

There are a number of possible reasons why Craig has bounced.  It could be a creative thing, but I severely doubt it.  I can also guarantee you that it isn’t Bond-related.  The earliest Bond 24 will likely shoot is this fall, which gives Daniel plenty of time to shoot another big film (or a few small ones).  So if isn’t “creative differences” or James Bond, then what could it be?

I’m banking on this exit being David Fincher-related.  Fincher has already made it clear to Sony that if they want him back for The Girl Who Played With Fire, which they actually DO want to make, then he wants both of his stars back as well.  Sony reportedly balked at what Craig has been asking for to return and rumor was that they were considering replacing him with someone cheaper.  Now the “obvious” conclusion here is that Sony has relented and will pony up the dough for Craig to return.  In light of Skyfall‘s massive success, they’d be stupid not to…Craig’s non-Bond track record be damned.

It was initially looking like Fincher would make his adaptation of 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea for Fox first, but with Brad Pitt’s departure they are currently captain-less.  This could very well have opened the door for Rooney Mara to play with fire with David while the latter searches for a new Nemo.  Given that Steve Zaillian has been scripting said sequel for awhile now, even if he hasn’t completed the screenplay, I have to assume they have something that is at least workable enough to polish in time to shoot this summer if Sony and Fincher wished it.  That is the “obvious” option.

The wild card…which also happens to be my preferred scenario…is that perhaps Fincher has found his new Captain Nemo in the form of Daniel Craig.  The script is supposedly ready.  Production planning has been going for months.  Financing is in place and the film is a lock for an Australian shoot.  All they need now is a star.  Is Daniel Craig replacing Brad Pitt as captain of the Nautilus?  I hope so.  The idea of Fincher playing in that sandbox is enticing enough as it is and the prospect of Craig in that role, even if it is unlikely, is too good for my brain to not hope for.  I guess time will tell.  Either way, I suspect a second outing with Fincher is absolutely in the cards for Mr. Craig.  Now that The Monuments Men press release is out, it’s only a matter of time before someone in the industry speaks up on Craig’s departure.  Now we must sit and await a reason.

Source | Bob Balaban