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OTRC: James Bond film No. 24 expected within 3 years

Daniel Craig appears as James Bond in the 2012 film 'Skyfall,' a scene set in Shanghai. (Sony Pictures / Francois Duhamel)

Good news, 007 fans -- the next James Bond film is already in the works and is expected to be released within three years.

MGM Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Gary Barber announced the news in a recent conference call with investors but gave no specific date, according to the Reuters news wire. This will be the 24th film in the hit franchise and the follow-up to the 2012 movie "Skyfall," the third installment starring Daniel Craig as British super spy James Bond. MGM co-produced the film with Sony.

"We are very excited about the franchise, we look forward to announcing a director soon," Reuters quoted Barber as saying. "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."

"Skyfall" director Sam Mendes told Empire magazine in an interview published on March 6 that he will not direct the next Bond film, saying: "Directing 'Skyfall' was one of the best experiences of my professional life, but I have theatre and other commitments, including productions of 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' and 'King Lear,' that need my complete focus over the next year and beyond."

Craig had last year signed a deal to star in at least two more James Bond films.

"I've been trying to get out of this from the very moment I got into it, but they won't let me go, and I've agreed to do a couple more," he told Rolling Stone in November 2012, before "Skyfall" was released. "But let's see how this one does, because business is business and if the [expletive] goes down, I've got a contract that somebody will happily wipe their [expletive] with."

"Skyfall" made more than $1.1 billion worldwide, including $304 million in the United States. It broke records -- the film became the first James Bond movie in the entire 50-year-old franchise to make more than $1 billion and in December 2012, it was deemed the highest-grossing film in the UK, where it made at least $151 million in 40 days, according to Vanity Fair.

At the 2013 Oscars, "Skyfall" won two awards -- Best Achievement in Sound Editing and Best Original Song for the movie soundtrack's title song, sung by Adele. (Check out more details and VIDEOS of Adele on the red carpet at the Oscars as well as her backstage speech.

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