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Five studios are currently bidding for Bond distribution rights

04.20.2017

The James Bond series has been a global cinematic brand for over 50 years, with the lead character standing suave and tall as one of the most recognizable figures of the 20th century. Naturally studios want a big piece of that pie, and given the current situation around the distribution rights for the series, one of those big studios may get to take a bite after all.

The New York Times is reporting that Warner Bros., Universal Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Annapurna and recent Bond distributer, Sony, are all courting Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and EON productions for the distribution rights for the mega franchise. Sony originally held the rights until SPECTRE was released in 2015, ending the four-movie contract the studio had with MGM and EON, the franchise rights holders. Paramount and Disney are staying out of the fight, the former most likely due to financial problems after a string of bombs, and the latter because, well, do they need it?

Word is that MGM and EON (who have no actual film releasing power) reps have been attending “dog and pony shows” put on by the studios who are hoping to win their favor. Sony cited their deep knowledge of the franchise, reliability since 2006's CASINO ROYALE, and even held their presentation on the set of DR. NO, which started the whole series when released by United Artists decades ago.  Nothing about recasting the movie has been discussed, as the producers are still hoping Daniel Craig will come back for at least one more film.

Currently MGM and EON are only offering a one-movie deal, perhaps hoping to keep their options open if they wish to sell the franchise in the future. Though the Bond series would be a massive acquisition for any studio, the report makes note that any winning studio would hardly make an equally massive profit from any released movie. Sony’s deal had them making 25 percent back of certain profits, even though they put up 50 percent of the production cost for SPECTRE – which came out to $250 million total. Citing a leaked document from the 2014 Sony hack, word was that Sony would make $38 million if SPECTRE made as much as SKYFALL (which made $1.1 billion), but the movie ended with $881 million, 20 percent less than SKYFALL.

Though known for smaller movies, Megan Ellison’s Annapurna would have the most to gain from the series, getting a foothold in larger productions and a taste of a massive global success. Universal, though, rivals even Disney as the biggest player in the overseas market, with the FAST, JURASSIC and DESPICABLE ME movies all doing massive business in foreign territories – in some cases doing better than in the U.S. (also see WARCRAFT).  

In the end holding the distribution rights to Bond is a great asset no matter what. It’s all about holding the keys to a bona fide hit machine, guaranteeing a successful movie no matter what. Despite being out of the running Paramount sure could use something like that, but Warner Bros. and Universal probably have the most capital to handle such a large endeavor. The winner will get to claim Bond, while the others must sacrfice one Hollywood actor on a marble slab.

Source: NYT

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