While 2015 may have brought about a tepid return for James Bond to the big screen, it did have the potential to mean something more to the franchise. With the release of Spectre, it saw the conclusion of Sony Pictures Entertainment’s distribution contract with MGM and Eon Productions, both of whom control the destiny of the MI6 agent, James Bond.
Back in 2006, when Casino Royale hit theaters, the spy was under the distribution care and expertise of Sony, and with that contract officially ended, Bond is now a free agent. While on Sony’s watch, Bond has done pretty well for himself, taking in over $3.1 billion over the past four films (Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, Skyfall, and Spectre). This makes James Bond quite the hot commodity for MGM and Eon, and they are taking advantage.
According to TheWrap, there are five studios currently locked in an intense bidding war for distribution rights for the next film in the James Bond franchise. Among those studios are Warner Bros, Universal, 20th Century Fox, Sony Pictures, and upstart Annapurna Pictures. Even crazier is that they aren’t even bidding on a multi-film deal, but rather a single-film contract.
That’s right. There’s no director or release date, and studios are bidding away. The big deal for this particular film, is that it looks to act as Daniel Craig’s final film after a highly successful four movies (though while producers HOPE Craig will return, there is no official confirmation).
The incredibly interesting thing here is that Sony went so far as to pitch their deal to MGM and EOn on a sound staged modeled after a set from Doctor No. Had this been a huge cash cow for the studio, we’d understand, but according to the report, the film is better for branding than it is for their pocketbook. In an email leaked from the Sony hack, it was estimated that Spectre would only net $38 million if it did as well as Skyfall. The film did well, taking in $880 million worldwide, but it was still a ways off from Skyfall’s $1.1 billion cume. Not sure how that Hollywood accounting works, but it doesn’t seem like the film would have made much, or anything, if all that was the case.
Regardless, the fact that Sony is in the game that this point shows that there’s some value to be had from distributing the property.
We’ll have to wait and see who ends up on top of this heated bidding war.
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