The search for a new 007 continues to drag on, but adate has already been set for the release of the next Bond film.

Bond's new distributor Sony (which has just completedits acquisition of former Bond studio MGM) has earmarked November 17, 2006, forthe release Casino Royale in North America and the UK.

The now traditional end of year release date is anexact mirror of that taken when a new actor last took on the role.

WhenBond returned after a six year absence in 1995's Goldeneye it eschewedthe summer dates the franchise had frequently taken with films like RogerMoore's swansong A View To A Kill and Timothy Dalton double TheLiving Daylights and Licence To Kill.

Launchingon Nov 17, 1995 Goldeneye proved a tremendous success grossing $348.9mworldwide, including $106.4m in North America. It launched in the UK on Nov 24,1995.

Themost recent Bond film, Die Another Day, was the franchise's mostsuccessful title to date. Opening again in November, the film took $271minternationally and $160.9m in North America, despite the presence of thesecond Harry Potter film on the scene at the same time.

CasinoRoyale not only shares Goldeneye's release date butalso its director, Martin Campbell. Speculation is still rife as to who willplay Bond. Last week, producer Eon said that Pierce Brosnan would not play 007again. Other names in the frame include Daniel Craig, Julian McMahon or MatthewMacFadyen.