Despite mixed reviews, after Die Another Day was a boxoffice hit it was assumed that Pierce Brosnan would return as James Bond in the next film. However, on February 9, 2004, a mere 15 months after Die Another Day's release, The Daily Mail published an article stating that Pierce Brosnan had been deemed "too old for 007," It seemed that the producers wanted to take Bond back to his roots and needed a younger agent in the tux.
He is the most successful 007 of all, but Pierce Brosnan is being pensioned off as James Bond.
Producers have decided that, at the age of 50, he is not attracting enough young fans and will be recruiting a successor before the next film.
Names in the frame include Jude Law, Christian Bale, Orlando Bloom, Colin Farrell and Hugh Jackman.
Brosnan was 'optioned' to make one more Bond film, meaning he would do it if producers still wanted him. But he has been told that the option will not be taken up for the 22nd Bond movie, due to be made next year.
In some ways he is a victim of his own success. The massive £705million box office takings for his four-film run and, in particular the £250million triumph of his last appearance, Die Another Day, has left producers wondering how they can possibly go one better.
So instead of trying to, they have decided to take a step back and recreate the early days of Bond with a younger actor.
'Bond reached a peak in Die Another Day - one of the most succesful films ever - but now we have the opportunity to re-energise the franchise and take it to even greater heights,' said a source at Eon productions.
'We will go back to the first days of Bond - maybe even his first mission. We want to attract more young fans and we think that having a younger Bond will help.'
Brosnan's sex symbol status was not helped by pictures taken at a family barbecue last October in which he betrayed signs of middleage spread.
The decision for a change was given added impetus when Britney Spears approached producers to ask for a role in the next movie.
They realised the 22-year- old singer would look more like Brosnan's daughter than his love interest.
The source added that Brosnan was happy with the decision. 'Pierce felt Roger Moore did one too many Bond movies and he wants to move on while he is still considered alongside Sean Connery,' he said.
Brosnan took over as Bond in 1995, in GoldenEye. He was contracted to do three films, with the option of a fourth. That option was extended to include a fifth after the success of The World Is Not Enough, his third film which came out in 2000.
Roger Moore did his last Bond film, A View To A Kill, when he was 58 while Sean Connery was just 41 when he called it a day in Diamonds Are Forever, though he made a one-off comeback at 53 in Never Say Never Again.
Brosnan has already shown that he is more than just a one-trick pony with acclaimed roles in The Thomas Crown Affair and The Tailor of Panama. A spokesman for Eon said that Brosnan may not be part of future plans.
'We are always looking to target younger audiences,' he said. 'We want fans who will still be watching in 40 years. We are looking at what direction we want Bond to go and when that decision has been made, that will determine the cast and plot. No decisions have been made.'
Brosnan is most Bond fans' second favourite actor in the role, according to David Black, chairman of the James Bond International Fan Club.
'I think most fans still see Connery as the best Bond, with Brosnan coming second,' he said. 'It depends who you grew up with. Older fans prefer Sean while the younger ones prefer Brosnan.'
Of the candidates to take over, Hugh Jackman, who starred in X-Men, was the most fancied by fans, he said.
Source: The Daily Mail
Complete coverage of Pierce Brosnan's Axing
The Daily Mail's "Pierce Brosnan is Too Old" article
Brosnan's interview with Sun Media claiming that he was axed
Pierce Brosnan's letter to fans
UnivEx's Pierce Brosnan bio and coverage
UnivEx's GoldenEye Dossier
UnivEx's Tomorrow Never Dies Dossier
UnivEx's The World is Not Enough Dossier
UnivEx's Die Another Day Dossier