There’s been big speculation surrounding Sam Mendes‘ potential return to the James Bond business because his blend of character beats and surprising action acumen is rightly noted as the main reason Skyfall worked so well. Unfortunately, his particular balance won’t be back. According to Empire, Mendes will not be returning for Bond 24: Whatever It Gets Titled. Citing other professional commitments, the director said, “It has been a very difficult decision not to accept Michael [G. Wilson] and Barbara [Broccoli]’s very generous offer to direct the next Bond movie. 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.” So it’s bad news topped with bad news for anyone who doesn’t plan on buying a play ticket anytime soon. Mendes is still attached to produce several movies — most of which have been stalled out for a while — but this statement makes it seem likely that we won’t see him direct again for a while. He’s attached to direct Netherland, based off the Joseph O’Neill novel, and it’s still at Focus Features, but it’s unclear whether or when it will move forward. Thus, it looks like the filmmaker is going to wear some different hats for a while, and the next installment of the 007 franchise will have to find a suitable replacement. Isn’t J.J. Abrams available?