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Bond franchise expansion possible as Apple & Amazon join distribution race

09.06.2017

Whether or not Daniel Craig would return to play James Bond is not the only reason why we've had to wait longer than usual for BOND 25 to get going. One major reason is that Sony’s distribution rights expired with 2015’s SPECTRE, and franchise owners, MGM and EON, are looking at other studios to take up the contract. Major studios like Warner Bros., Fox and Universal are in the running for the contract, but a new report says tech giants Apple and Amazon have just entered the race in a huge way.

THR got word from a source that Apple and Amazon are willing to pay the large price as some of the larger studios – if not more – for the rights to distrubute the BOND movies over several years. Warner Bros. is supposedly the frontrunner for the distribution rights, but with the entrance of the two massive companies the prospect of something even grander than simple distribution comes to light: brand extension.

Given the size of Apple and Amazon, and that they are not simply in the buisness of distributing movies, word is the companies could be willing to spend more if it means  going beyond just distribution, getting the chance to expand the brand beyond theatrical releases. This means spinoffs, potential TV series going straight to streaming, etc. Apple in particular could be interested at making a bigger deal so they can gain full ownership of the franchise, which is currently priced at anywhere between $2 billion and $5 billion. “In the world of Lucasfilm and Marvel, Bond feels really underdeveloped,” said a source close to the process.

This is not unlike what Disney did with Lucasfilm, who then immediately began expanding the STAR WARS universe after the sale was final. The BOND universe does not have the same depth as STAR WARS, but chances are a company like Apple or Amazon would try to create new stories around the world of 007 if they got ahold of franchise rights. BOND 25 is set for a November 2019 release, and right now '71 director Yann Demange and BLADE RUNNER 2049's Denis Villeneuve are the top names in contention to direct.

As a fan of the BOND movies, I sort of want to stay a fan of just the BOND movies. The world doesn’t need another cinematic universe, and what makes the series sell is Bond and Bond alone. Throwing in shows and spinoffs without him is like making another plain spy thriller. The distribution rights should really stay in the hands of actual movie studios so as to preserve the dignity of the character and the history of the films. BOND shouldn't become yet another commodiity ripe for exploiting, especially given that there's simply no reason to do so. STAR WARS and the Marvel universe are prime for exploring and expanding, but Bond does just as well on his own.

Source: THR

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