LOS ANGELES, March 19 (Reuters) - Movie studio MGM said on Tuesday it expects to release the next James Bond movie within three years, and hopes to announce soon a new director after Sam Mendes decided to move on.
In a conference call with investors, MGM Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Gary Barber said the studio was developing the screenplay for the next, 24th movie in the 50-year-old franchise about the British secret agent.
"We are very excited about the franchise, we look forward to announcing a director soon," Barber said.
"We are currently developing the screenplay and working with our partners. We look forward to developing the script soon and signing a director. We are hoping within the next 3 years it will be released," Barber added.
He gave no details on casting but Daniel Craig has already signed on for two more films in the lead role as the suave 007 agent.
The 2012 Bond film "Skyfall," starring Craig, made $1.1 billion at the global box office and impressed critics. But Britain's Mendes said earlier this month that he wanted to focus on his theater projects for the foreseeable future.
Barber said Mendes "did an amazing job on 'Skyfall'. We are very thankful for the work that he did."
Privately-held MGM jointly produced "Skyfall" with Sony Corp's movie studio arm.
MGM said on Monday that "Skyfall" and "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" had helped bring a three-fold increase in its 2012 net income.