Five Studios’ Are Vying for the Distribution Rights to James Bond

For more than a decade, starting with “Casino Royale” in 2006, the superspy series has been based at Sony Pictures Entertainment. It has been a period of stability and prosperity for 007, as global ticket sales reached new heights. The four Bond films that Sony has released collected $3.5 billion at the worldwide box office, after adjusting for inflation.

But Sony’s contract to market and distribute the films expired in 2015 with “Spectre.” So the two companies that control the franchise but do not distribute their own films — Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and the family-run Eon Productions — have started attending dog and pony shows put on by studios that want the rights, according to five people briefed on the sessions, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.

On Tuesday, for instance, leaders at Sony spent an hour making their case. Kazuo Hirai, the chief executive, helped give the pitch, which emphasized the studio’s deep knowledge of Bond and its ideas for expanding the franchise’s reach. In true Hollywood fashion, Sony gave its presentation inside a sound stage on a recreated set from “Dr. No,” which was released in the United States in 1963 by United Artists and laid the foundation for the entire series.

Also vying for the Bond deal — even though it pays surprisingly little — are Warner Bros., Universal Pictures, 20th Century Fox and Annapurna, an ambitious upstart financed and led by the Oracle heiress Megan Ellison. (Not competing for the business are Paramount, which has been struggling and recently hired a new chairman, and Walt Disney Studios, which has been on a box office hot streak by focusing on its own family film labels.)

MGM and Eon, which stands for Everything or Nothing, are only offering a one-film contract. The expired Sony deal was for four movies. MGM, which is owned by private equity firms, including Anchorage Capital Partners, probably wants to keep its options open as it considers a sale or public offering.

Casting for the franchise has not been discussed in the meetings, according to the people briefed on them, although producers hope Daniel Craig will play the lead for at least one more chapter. He has a gap on his docket, according to movie industry databases, that would allow for filming.

The person Ms. Ellison and the other bidders need to impress the most is Barbara Broccoli, who runs Eon Productions. Moviemaking is a collaborative process, but Ms. Broccoli and her older half brother, Michael G. Wilson, have final say over every line of dialogue, casting decision, stunt sequence, marketing tie-in, TV ad, poster and billboard.

Representatives for MGM, Eon and the studios pursuing the rights either had no comment or did not return calls.

Full Article: The New York Times


One of the things that is still unresolved is whether Sony will be able to get the next James Bond film, which has become the subject of a fierce tug-of-war between studios. Regardless of whether Daniel Craig stars in it, the Bond franchise adds a major domestic and international tentpole to any slate.

How important is it to Sony? So much that Sony Corp’s Hirai just recently made a video “James Bond” presentation in an effort to lure the film to the studio. He even appeared dressed as James Bond.

Ideally, they would keep it at the studio. The James Bond distribution deal with Sony expired after Spectre, which was released in 2015 to a whopping $880 million worldwide and since then it’s been a guessing game as to where the next film in the franchise will land. It’s no secret that both Warner Bros and Sony want this film and, in fact, have had serious conversations with MGM and 007 Danjaq producers Michael Wilson and Barbara Broccoli. Other studios, however, are also in the mix — Fox and Universal are known to have been circling. Any deal is said to be months away.

Full Article: Deadline

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