Filmmaker Marc Forster, the man behind such acclaimed movies as racial drama Monster's Ball and Peter Pan story Finding Neverland, was named on Tuesday as director of the next James Bond adventure.
Forster will direct the yet untitled 22nd Bond outing from a script he and Oscar-winning screenwriter Paul Haggis will develop from a draft by previous Bond collaborators Neil Purvis and Robert Wade, the studio and producers said.
As previously announced, British actor Daniel Craig, who made his debut as James Bond in Casino Royale, will return as the secret agent with a license to kill in the film slated for release in November 2008. Production is set to begin at the end of this year.
Haggis, Purvis and Wade also shared screen writing credits on Casino Royale, which grossed nearly $600 million at worldwide box offices to rank as the most successful film in the movie franchise based on the books by British spy novelist Ian Fleming.
The choice of Forster marks an apparent change in creative emphasis from Casino Royale director Martin Campbell, best known for his work in action-adventure films, including 1995's Golden Eye, which introduced Pierce Brosnan as Bond.
<b1>But Bond's producers, Michael Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, have long been known for enlisting fresh talent on both sides of the camera in a bid to re-energize a film series that dates back to 1962 with Dr No.
Last year's Casino Royale launched Craig as a more rugged, yet emotionally vulnerable Bond -- as well as the first with blond hair.
Forster's eclectic mix of directorial work includes such character-driven dramas as Finding Neverland, starring Johnny Depp as Peter Pan creator JM Barrie, and Monster's Ball, which earned Halle Berry an Oscar for best actress.
His latest movie, The Kite Runner, about an Afghan immigrant to California who returns to his war-torn homeland, is due to open later this year.
"I have always been drawn to different kinds of stories, and I have also always been a Bond fan, so it is very exciting to take on this challenge," Forster said in a statement.
The film will be released jointly by Sony Pictures Entertainment's Columbia Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios.
Haggis shared Academy Awards for best picture and best original screenplay for his work on the racial drama Crash. He also was nominated for his screenplay for Million Dollar Baby, the 2004 boxing drama that earned Clint Eastwood the Oscars for best picture and best director.