After weeks of hints, rumors and expectations, it now appears that "Skyfall" director Sam Mendes won't return for Bond 24. 

With "Skyfall" earning more than $1 billion at the box office and recently picking up two Oscars, it's understandable that producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli are eager to move forward on Bond 24, but doing so means that Mendes won't be able to commit to the film. 

"It has been a very difficult decision not to accept Michael and Barbara’s very generous offer to direct the next Bond movie," he told Empire. "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."

It was earlier reported that Mendes had an idea for the next film's plot, but its unknown if that will carry over once a new director is chosen. Other reports indicated that Mendes was considering a return, so this news comes as somewhat of a surprise. 

"Skyfall" reinvigorated the franchise, bringing 007 back to Square One career-wise, and introducing a new support team for Bond (Daniel Craig) which includes such luminaries as Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris and Ben Whishaw. 

Mendes also assembled an ace crew for the film, including Oscar-nominated DP Roger Deakins and Oscar-nominated composer Thomas Newman, but it remains to be seen if they'll return. 

"We thoroughly enjoyed working with Sam, he directed our most successful Bond movie ever, 'Skyfall,'" Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli told Empire. "We would have loved to have made the next film with him but completely respect his decision to focus on other projects and hope to have the opportunity to collaborate with him again."

With the "Skyfall" cast and the Bond legacy as prime selling points, however, Broccoli and Wilson shouldn't have trouble attracting another A-list name.

Who would you like to see direct the next Bond adventure?