Mendes admits he seriously considered pulling out. In London, following his split with wife Kate Winslet, he was developing an adaptation of Ian McEwan's 1960s-based drama On Chesil Beach but had problems casting it. Other offers came his way -- he even had brief talks about helming The Hunger Games -- and yet he resisted. "I was tempted to go," he acknowledges. "I said to Barbara, 'Can you give me some assurance this is going to happen?' She said, 'To be honest, I can't.' But I had a feeling it would be sorted out, so I took the risk of turning down other work and just waiting." Later, Mendes says he came to regard the forced break as a gift: "While we sat around waiting, we quietly carried on with the script, and as a consequence we ended up with a much better draft."
The writer and director discussed favorite films that might color various sequences, including Charles Laughton's haunting 1955 drama The Night of the Hunter. "Sam and I talked a lot about why a Bond movie is a Bond movie and not a Bourne or a John le Carre," Logan says. "It has to do with that intense seriousness and a pain that hurts and also this sense of panache and elegance." Before the Skyfall machinery could fully be engaged, MGM's financial uncertainty had to be resolved. Broccoli and Wilson shuttled endlessly across the Atlantic. "We had different meetings with everyone from [MGM CEO] Harry Sloan [before he was pushed out in August 2009] to Stephen Cooper, who was brought in [as MGM vice chairman] by all the equity guys to reorganize the company. We had meetings in Los Angeles, in New York, all over the place. We were meeting a lot of people, because it was a revolving door, and to try and get a handle on the situation was chaotic. It didn't look like it was going to be resolved for some time and we didn't want to be a pawn in all this. The whole situation looked very opaque."
Throughout the 127-day shoot, which wrapped May 25, Mendes insisted on live action rather than CGI wherever possible. Indeed, there are only 500-some-odd CGI shots in the 143-minute movie (including one where MI6's London headquarters is blown up), compared to more than 2,200 effects shots in The Avengers. This meant Craig had to perform many of the stunts in difficult situations. And yet the only injury he suffered came during rehearsals, forcing two weeks of the film to be rescheduled while he healed. "I tore a muscle in my calf doing something completely innocuous," he remembers. "I was trying to kick a stunt man, and stepped back on my foot. I heard it go snap and thought, 'Who the f-- did that!' " The pain, both real and metaphysical, has paid off.
On Oct. 22, THR revealed that MGM Holdings had decided to delay the IPO, which insiders believe will take place in 2013 rather than before Skyfall's opening, as originally planned. That's largely based on the studio's confidence in Skyfall and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which opens Dec. 14. "[Skyfall's success] would be incrementally positive to any proposed stock offering," says Piper Jaffray analyst James Marsh. "First, it likely increases estimates. It also likely raises the short-term growth rate, improves predictability of future cash flow. It was debatable if this franchise was getting a little long in the tooth; outperformance like this suggests it has a longer life."