One of the components of the rebooted James Bond franchise has been studio MGM’s co-financing and distribution agreement with Sony Pictures. Starting with 2006’s Casino Royale, in which Daniel Craig took over the lead role of suave superspy James Bond and the series smacked the reset button hard, Sony has brought the adventures of 007 to theaters in return for a rather hefty payment to MGM which helped bring the studio out of the desperate financial straights it was in at the time.
But that agreement is nearing an end with the approaching November release of Spectre, the final film of the deal, and while Sony would certainly like to renew that deal, it is finding that it may be in competition with another studio who also wants a slice of the lucrative James Bond franchise pie.
Variety is reporting that Warner Brothers could be a contender to take over Sony’s role in the franchise –
[I]nsiders speculate that the close relationship between MGM chief Gary Barber and Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara could result in the super-spy shifting addresses to the Burbank studio. MGM and Warner Bros. have partnered on several films including the “Hobbit” trilogy, the May box office dud “Hot Pursuit” and the upcoming Rocky Balboa spin-off, “Creed.”
For their part, new Sony president Tom Rothman is not about to let the films go without a fight.
The reality is that Sony’s had a fantastic run with the Bonds. Sure we’re going to compete for (the rights), but let’s be honest, so is everybody in the business.
With the worldwide box office total on the three films that Sony has been involved with just shy $2.3 billion, there is certainly a lot on the line, so things could get heated before they’re resolved.
Of course, if the distribution of the Bond films does indeed change hands, it does raise the question of what impact that change will have on future films. We know from the Sony email hack last November that execs had input into the Spectre screenplay over things from budgetary issues to specific notes about various drafts of the film’s script. Of course, we don’t know how those notes will impact Spectre just yet, but it is possible that Warner Brothers, or another studio for that matter, may not be able to muster the same level of involvement that Sony has brought to the franchise.