Five studios compete for 007 distribution rights

The most pressing issue on the road to the next James Bond film might be resolved soon as five major film studios try to win the distribution rights to one of the most successful film franchises

We have heard and read a lot these past few months and the already thin line between fact and reality has become even thinner with neverending newspaper stories about the next actor to allegedly portray legendary agent 007. Today, the New York Times revealed a piece to the puzzle which has left everybody wondering how far ahead preparations of Bond25 really are.

Following the expiry of Sony Pictures marketing and distribution contract for the James Bond films in 2015, a new distributor must be sought to take over. With 007 being a worldwide success franchise, one would assume that a new distributor is just around the corner throwing his hat in the ring. But instead, everything went silent for months.

President and CEO of Sony Corporation Kazuo Hirai – Reuters/Jim Urquhart

Both Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and the family-run EON Productions, who control the franchise but do not distribute the films themselves, now have the difficult task to lay their baby into the hands of a studio that values Bond as much as they do. On 18 April, Sony Pictures was the first to apply. Chief executive Kazuo Hirai emphasized Sonys deep knowledge of the Bond franchise as well as its ideas to expand the reach of the franchise. He did so at a presentation on a recreated set from the very first Bond film ‘Dr. No’. Well played!

Next up were Warner Bros., Universal Pictures, 20th Century Fox and Annapurna, an ambitious upstart financed and led by the Oracle heiress Megan Ellison. Both Paramount Pictures and Walt Disney Studios have not competed. A takeover by the latter was feared by many Bondfans around the globe.

It is understood, that the five studios compete for a one film contract instead of four like the previous one with Sony Pictures. During the individual meetings, no casting decision has been discussed. The producers of the Bond films however hope for a return of actor Daniel Craig who would be available for filming due to a gap in his schedule.

It is a known fact that a Bond film distributor will not get rich through Bond, quite the oppsite really. Sony Pictures covered 50 percent of the production costs for the last Bond film ‘Spectre’ but only received 25 percent of the profit. Obtaining the distribution rights for 007 is thus not suitable to make loads of money but to have a guaranteed box office hit which has recently become a rare thing for many studios. 

At the end of everything, the bidders need to impress Bond producers Barbara Broccoli and her older half brother, Michael G. Wilson, who run EON Productions. Having the final say in everything concerning the next Bond film, they also control who runs the show on the worldwide distribution market.

Bond producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson