IVER HEATH, England (Reuters) - James Bond will take on a sinister organization with links to his past in the next installment of the blockbuster spy series, which star director Sam Mendes said on Thursday would be called "SPECTRE".
Mendes unveiled a new cast and souped-up car - an Aston Martin DB 10 - but few other details about the 24th film in the series, that will see Daniel Craig return for his fourth outing as the dapper, martini-drinking agent.
Austrian actor Christoph Waltz would play a leading role, Mendes added, without going into more details. Most commentators assumed the sadistic villain of Quentin Tarantino's "Inglorious Basterds" would play the baddie.
Italian actress Monica Bellucci and French actress Lea Seydoux, who shot to fame in the erotic hit "Blue is the Warmest Color", would play "Bond girls", Mendes added at a press conference at Pinewood Studios north of London.
In a teaser description of the plot, Sony Pictures Entertainment said in a statement:
"A cryptic message from Bond’s past sends him on a trail to uncover a sinister organization. While M battles political forces to keep the secret service alive, Bond peels back the layers of deceit to reveal the terrible truth behind SPECTRE."
The title was a clear reference to the global criminal organization that Bond has battled since the first film in the series, 1962's "Dr No".
SPECTRE infamously stood for the Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion.
Much secrecy has surrounded the latest outing for the Bond franchise, which has taken in more than $5 billion worldwide since its debut in figures adjusted for inflation on the trade site Box Office Mojo.
The Sony Pictures Entertainment film, scheduled for release in November next year, previously had only a working title as "Bond 24".
Along with Craig, Mendes presented returning cast members Ralph Fiennes, who plays "M" after a long turn in the role by Judi Dench, alongside Naomie Harris, Ben Whishaw and Rory Kinnear.
Mendes said shooting would begin on Monday at Pinewood and that other locations would include London, Rome, Mexico City, Tangier and the Austrian alps.
Mendes directed the previous Bond film "Skyfall", which was the most lucrative in the series to date, taking in $1.1 billion worldwide.
(Writing by Michael Roddy; Editing by Andrew Heavens)