James Bond Franchise Rights Being Pursued By Five Different Studios

Daniel Craig as James Bond in Skyfal

Five Hollywood studios are currently engaged in a bidding war for the rights to the James Bond film franchise. The property had called Sony home for the better part of a decade, beginning when Daniel Craig took over the role of 007 in 2006's Casino Royale. Their agreement with MGM and EON Productions expired following the release of Spectre in 2015, and since then Bond has been up for grabs. The series producers are hoping to move forward on the currently untitled Bond 25 soon (they already have screenwriters in place), but before the cameras start to roll, this matter has to be resolved.

Despite Bond being one of the most successful brands in the film industry, all has been quiet on this front for a while, but that might change in the relatively near future. A handful of studios are now putting together presentations to impress MGM and EON, hoping that they can become the next company to distribute 007's forthcoming adventure.

According to The New York Times, Sony, Warner Bros., Universal, 20th Century Fox, and Annapurna Pictures are all said to be in the running (Paramount and Disney are sitting this one out). Of the five in contention, Megan Ellison's Annapurna is arguably the most surprising, since their speciality so far has been prestige pictures. Annapurna's interest is a sign the studio is looking to diversify their output and get involved in big-budget tentpoles. It would be fascinating if the upstart managed to beat out the larger, more-established movie houses for the rights, though it's too early to tell who is the frontrunner at this point in time.

Daniel Craig as James Bond in Spectre

It's worth noting that whichever studio emerges victoriously from this process will have just a single-film contract with MGM and EON. Presumably, the Bond creative team wants to lock down Craig for one more installment before rebooting the series again with a new actor. Casting "has not been discussed in the meetings" so far, though it will surely be a topic of conversation as negotiations heat up and executives propose their vision for the franchise. Additionally, the agreement is said to not be very lucrative; Sony's deal saw them receive just 25 percent of profits, shell out exuberant marketing costs, and share profits from other films with MGM. Still, Bond remains highly-coveted in the business because of its status as one of the biggest movie franchises in the world, and Bond 25 is already a guaranteed hit thanks to its pedigree. Wanting the rights to something with a large built-in fan base is perfectly understandable.

There's no timetable for a final decision, but it would appear MGM and EON would like to find a partner soon so they can get to work in ernest on the next Bond installment. They've already done some location scouting in Dubrovnik, Croatia and Jeffrey Wright (who played Felix Leiter in Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace) is teasing his possible return. By all accounts, the ball on Bond 25 is about to get rolling, so it hopefully won't be long until we know which studio will actually release the milestone entry and the pieces really fall into place.

Bond 25 does not have a release date. We'll keep you updated on the latest information.

MORE: The Bond Franchise Needs New Writers

Source: New York Times

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