For years it seemed The Hobbit and Bond 23 were inseparable titles, inextricably linked by their shared flailing around in the tar pit that was MGM. Once the ailing studio managed to get its shit together the LOTR follow-up seemed spring loaded, and was instantly generating news as it geared up for production. Like a true spy, Bond has move slower and more subtly, and while the multi-year, multi-release fantasy behemoth has already filmed and hit a hiatus, the latest Daniel Craig outing is just now starting to leak any real details.

The latest is that the film might have a Bond Girl in Naomie Harris, who you likely remember from 28 Days Later and Pirates 2 and 3. Her most recent role was in the delightful but small The First Grader (we interviewed the director here), but she’s apparently been wheeling and dealing for a turn in the action blockbuster. Nothing is yet inked, but EW confirmed that the talks were legit, and its possible Daniel Craig may be spending some time with his first half-Jamaican Bond Girl? Last month Phil at BAD suggested Gemma Chan (Submarine) was a possible Bond back-up girl, but that was based on a vague, unknown source.

As for the other recent details? In terms of money and inside baseball it’s a big deal that Sony has become the Bond distributor once again [Deadline]. A studio bidding war immediately followed after MGM decided to shed their distribution division. The odd part about it is how far Sony bent over backwards to nab the rights, even bringing MGM in on some of their other lucrative properties like The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (another Daniel Craig joint). This is similar to the arrangement that makes The Hobbit a de facto Warner Brothers title, save for the narrow slice of rights that MGM retains. All of this is a way of saying broke-ass MGM desperately held onto their two big properties, so they could still sit at the table and make some cash while other, real studios made and/or released their movies for them.

What else is out there?

In terms of villains, there have been rumors of Javier Bardem, Anthony Hopkins, and Ralph Fiennes all being in talks at one point or another. Fiennes has been the most consistently reported possibility, but it’s all been very vague. Apparently Mendes did consider or possibly even court his old buddy Kevin Spacey, but that’s long since dried up.

We do know the release date, and Bond will play loyal to his home country this time around with a November 9th, 2012 release in the US preceded by an October 26th release in the UK.

Sadly, we also know the film will have mad product placement, with a record-doubling $45m coming from sponsorship deals [The Australian]. It’s my feeling that product placement isn’t always the worst thing ever (is real life not filled to the brim with the shit anyway?), but that number implies a shit-ton of partnerships, and one fears that might lead to more than a few particularly painful lines, scenes, conversations, or compositions to get those brand names in there. Let’s hope they smooth that stuff out, lest we have Craig winking into the camera as he downs a Dr. Pepper and pops a piece of Orbit gum in his mouth before sliding into his Ford Fiesta.

Finally, it might be shooting in India. Mendes was supposedly spotted in Mumbai along with his production designer [THR], and there are reports that the production will follow in the Bourne and M:I footsteps with shoots in Goa and Mumbai. Many have been quick to point out that for Bond it will be a return to the sub-continent, as Roger Moore spied around India in Octopsusy in the early 80s.

So that’s what we know- mostly a lot of vague early pre-production details, but enough movement that we can be sure the film is happening. Expect details to start pouring out soon- the franchise was as lucrative as ever with the Craig out front, so surely no one is looking to delay. Hopefully next up will be a title…

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