After months of MGM's financial woes keeping the fate of the next Bond film hanging in the balance, things are finally back on the straight and narrow with the project. Just a few days ago we learned that Bond 23 has indeed snagged director Sam Mendes, that it will shoot in late 2011 and that the film will be released on November 12th, 2012, with Daniel Craig once again portraying 007.
Although Bond 23 has yet to begin filming, attention has to be given to which studio will distribute the film once it's in the can. Sony Pictures released the last two flicks, Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace, but it appears that another one of the big studios, Paramount Pictures, might swoop in to distribute Bond 23.
The Hollywood Reporter has the news that Paramount is currently the lead player and has apparently gotten the first shot at negotiations, thanks to a close relationship between the studio and recently appointed MGM co-chairmen Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum.
The owners of the Bond estate, the Broccoli family, have reportedly approved of Paramount as a possible distributor, despite being on excellent terms with the other distribution contender in this equation, Sony Pictures. The Broccoli family are said to be very impressed with the way Paramount has managed to sell big movies on a worldwide scale - for instance, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen made $836 million while Iron Man 2 took in $622 million, both within the last two years alone.
On top of the Broccoli family being sufficiently impressed with Paramount's money-making credentials as of late, MGM co-chairmen Barber and Birnbaum are on good terms (financially) with Paramount execs Brad Grey and Rob Moore after they teamed on J.J. Abrams' Star Trek reboot. The (at the time) "risky proposition" that Barber and Birnbaum took on evidently paid off as the film went on to make almost $400 million worldwide.
A source familiar with Paramount's way of thinking has said that the studio regards the Bond franchise as a very attractive one, but not life-changing. Despite the last two Bond films taking almost $1.2 billion combined at the box office, a share of that went to the Broccoli family and others so the overall profits weren't as sizable as with some other franchises, such as Transformers or Iron Man.
Sony still has a shot at distributing Bond 23 as everything is still in the early stages, as well as the fact that the Broccoli family are said to be on very good terms with Sony chairman Amy Pascal, who oversaw Casino Royale, the grittier reboot of the franchise. For now however, Paramount looks to be the frontrunner since preliminary talks have already begun.
Whoever ends up distributing Bond 23 it's pretty much guaranteed to make a ton of money at the box office. Not only do they have the existing fanbase and knowledge of the previous Bond installments to help build anticipation - by the time Bond 23 hits theaters it will have been a full four years since the release of the last film, Quantum of Solace. That's more than enough time to get people salivating for more action from the most famous spy character of them all.
Bond 23 is now scheduled to open on November 12th, 2012. Stay tuned for who snags the distribution rights - Paramount, Sony or maybe another studio entirely.