Five Studios Fight For The Bond Films

Five studios are reportedly vying for the rights to distribute films in the James Bond franchise following the four-film Sony Pictures deal coming to an end after the release of “Spectre”.

Sony has been handling the films since 2006’s “Casino Royale” and, even with its own issues, has given it an era of stability and prosperity as the Daniel Craig era of the franchise has made $3.5 billion at the worldwide box office (adjusted for inflation)

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Eon Productions have now begun being feted by studios that want the rights to market and distribute the film and The New York Times reports today that Sony wants to retain the arrangement, while Warner Bros., Universal Pictures, 20th Century Fox and even the newly launched Annapurna Pictures.

What’s interesting here is the deal is just a one-film contract as MGM is potentially considering a sale or public offering so anything longer may complicate that. Casting for the franchise has not been discussed in the meetings, though producers hope Daniel Craig will play the lead for at least one more chapter.

A distributor won’t make much out of this – Sony paid a bunch of production and marketing costs for “Spectre,” but only received a 25% select profits share and that was after costs were recouped. They also gave MGM profits from some non-Bond films.

For rising Annapurna, which recently signed an unrelated distribution deal with MGM, landing the film would put Megan Ellison’s promising new distribution player on the map. Yet there’s the obvious question of whether the prestige label has the marketing experience, channels, and clout to sell it worldwide – and if they don’t there are downsides that could hurt their chances to really establish a foothold.

Whichever studio comes onboard will remain a silent partner as Eon Productions has final say over everything with the franchise creatively – including all the marketing, artwork and so forth.