All sorts of news seems to finally be popping out of thin air for the next Bond movie. First, we get a release date announcement. Second, Daniel Craig announces on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert that he’ll return as Double-oh Seven for one more time. (How about two more? Please?) Now, the race for the franchise distribution rights are in the final leg of a long two-year marathon.
Per an exclusive report published by The Hollywood Reporter earlier this morning, MGM and Eon Productions (who share ownership of the 55-year-old film franchise) are entertaining just three serious suitors to land the coveted distribution rights. While Warner Brothers was the favorite to land the free-agent franchise, both Amazon and Apple threw their names into the hat for consideration. Apple has just started to get into film and television, while Amazon ranks a close second behind Netflix for market share these days. Both tech giants are willing to write a check that rivals the bank Warner Brothers is willing to throw at MGM/Eon for the theatrical distribution rights. MGM has been patiently awaiting a deal for over two years now from studios looking to share the market with one of the biggest franchises in Hollywood. Sony, Universal, and 20th Century Fox have actively pursued the rights but Warners and Sony have been the most aggressive.
MGM and Sony do at least have a steady relationship already established. MGM has worked closely with Sony since 2006, when producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson (the guardians of the Bond franchise) signed a two-picture deal for film distribution rights. Sony handled theatrical releases and 20th Century Fox gained rights to the Bond films for reissue on an expansive Blu-ray collection. With Craig cast as James Bond and the franchise undergoing a soft reboot, the Bond property saw its popular soar to new heights. Casino Royale reeled in $599 million worldwide and, even with a script hampered by a writer’s strike, Quantum Of Solace took in $586 million globally. MGM and Sony renewed their two-picture deal, leading to the two biggest entries of the franchise. 2012’s Skyfall, regarded as one of the best installments, grossed a staggering $1.1 billion worldwide. 2015’s Spectre, which too cleverly tied up all four Craig films, didn’t fail to disappoint either but only earned $881 million globally.
The last time the franchise distribution rights were up for grabs in 2011, Paramount was actually the closest to land the rights. The storied studio walked away from negotiations with MGM over their demands and most 8 percent distribution fee MGM would pay. MGM ended up renewing with Sony, with part of the deal enabling the former to co-produce both The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and the much-maligned remake of Total Recall. Many pundits expected the suitors to be Warner Brothers, 20th Century Fox, and Sony. The details on why Fox and Sony have cooled their heels is unknown but both Broccoli and Wilson are traditionalist in their want of the Bond franchise, preferring to stick to motion pictures instead of a bubbling their brand out to various mediums that boils over into spin-offs and expansive cinematic franchises. Of course, the major sticking point is that Eon Productions has the final say on the direction of the franchise, not whomever lands the distribution rights. The big question ought to be if any of the bidding studios are aware they’re issuing MGM/Eon the cash to produce the movies and distribute, nothing more and nothing less.
Personally? I don’t believe that Amazon has any legitimate shot at landing the distribution rights. However, I could foresee Apple somehow getting involved with the production as a partner. Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht shocked Hollywood back in June when they both announced they were leaving their posts as co-presidents of Sony Pictures Television for Apple, to spearhead the tech giant’s efforts to dip their toes into television and film. Reports remain unclear about Apple’s intention of acquiring the rights but consensus appears to either become part of a rights partner with another studio or to buy the rights in full for expand the franchise to television and beyond. The Bond franchise alone is worth an estimated $2 to $5 billion according to reports and could be pushed even higher if Chinese investment firms opt to bid against Apple, Amazon, and Warner Brothers. I’ll tell you this for certain – the acquisition of the Bond distribution rights will be as big a news nugget as when Disney purchased Lucasfilm for $4 billion in October 2012.
Bond 25 is being written by longtime Bond scribes Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, with both Denis Villeneuve (Sicario and the forthcoming Blade Runner 2049) and Yann Demange (’71) atop the director wishlist. The landmark 25th installment will land in theaters worldwide on November 8, 2019 from EON Productions, MGM, and – well – another partner. Stay tuned to Fan Fest News for further updates to Bond 25 and what to expect from the production next.
Jerrold spent his childhood in southeastern Pennsylvania ingesting far too many TV shows and movies, thus creating a stark-raving mad geek. He’s a movie aficionado, binge-watches Netflix, and is a total TV junkie. His addiction has led to an unhealthy and rabid obsession of various geek pantheons – Star Trek, Star Wars, both DC *AND* Marvel,
cult 80’s and 90’s television, Supernatural, The X-Files, Doctor Who, and, and…holy overload. He’s still waiting to run away in a 1967 Impala or a blue police box.