Sam Mendes' decision not to direct the next James Bond film after his success with Skyfall left the franchise's producer Barbara Broccoli "devastated".
Oscar-winning American Beauty director Sam turned down the chance to make the follow-up to the spy thriller, the most successful British film ever, so he could concentrate on his theatre work.
Barbara said that after his work on the Oscar-winning film they hoped he would come back on board in the future.
"We are devastated that he decided not to do the next one," she said at the South Bank Sky Arts Awards.
"But he's done it - he has made one of the most successful films ever. We hope that we will be able to get him back."
Sam, who was praised for his work directing Daniel Craig as 007 in Skyfall, said it was "a very difficult decision" not to direct the next Bond film. He told Empire Magazine: "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."
King Lear will see Sam work at the National Theatre, while his stage musical version of the Roald Dahl story sees him return to the West End.
Skyfall was a critical and commercial success, picking up five Oscar nominations and winning two, including one for Adele for Original Song.
Meanwhile, Thor and Avengers Assemble star Tom Hiddleston ruled himself out of stepping into Daniel Craig's shoes as the British secret agent - for now.
Speaking at the awards, where he picked up the Times Breakthrough Award, he said: "I think Daniel Craig is very secure in his position at this point in time."