James Bond may have been resting at Sony ever since Casino Royale in 2006, raking in over $3.5 billion at the worldwide box office, but now the distribution rights are up for grabs.
So forget SPECTRE, Bond is now facing five major movie studios… can the super spy emerge triumphant? Yes, of course he can.
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Eon Productions (Eon stands for Everything or nothing, fact fans), who run Bond, have put the distribution rights up for grabs as they expired with Sony after 2015’s SPECTRE and now several interested parties have put themselves forward.
According to the NYTimes:
On Tuesday Sony’s 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.)
Interestingly, the new contract isn’t set up as a franchise starter, but rather is a one-picture deal – a one-film contract compared o the Sony expired deal which spanned four movies.
Interestingly, despite being one of the world’s biggest and most recognisable franchises, the whole deal doesn’t real deliver as much money as you might think (well, in big studio terms at least):
Under its previous agreement, Sony paid 50 percent of the production costs for “SPECTRE” — which totaled some $250 million after accounting for government incentives — but only received 25 percent of certain profits, once costs were recouped. Sony also shouldered tens of millions of dollars in marketing and had to give MGM a piece of the profit from non-Bond films Sony had in its own pipeline, including “22 Jump Street.”
In a 2014 email stolen by hackers and widely published online, Andrew Gumpert, who then oversaw business affairs for Sony, figured that the studio would realize about $38 million in profit if “SPECTRE performed as “Skyfall” did. And “SPECTRE” did not, taking in $881 million, about 20 percent less than “Skyfall,” which was released in 2012.
So basically it means that the battle for the rights to Bond comes down to schoolyard mentality – so they can say ‘we have 007 and you don’t’. There’s really not much more to it than that… to be able to say you are the ones distributing Bond is a big deal in Hollywood, for the bragging rights rather than the big money.
It’s a funny business, the spy game, isn’t it?