Thursday, September 09, 2010

James Bond Will Return (Eventually)

Last month it looked like the financial sinkhole that MGM found itself in, and which had threatened the survival of the James Bond franchise (as well as the planned film adaptations of The Hobbit), was heading toward some kind of resolution.  Things seemingly went dark after that, but Deadline posted a small update yesterday on where the Lion currently sits.

The short version is that things are moving right along for Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum of Spyglass  Entertainment to take over the studio's reins, essentially turning MGM into a production shingle that will no longer distribute its own product. While The Hobbit will likely find producing partner Warner Bros. ready and eager to pick up the slack, things are a little more complicated for 007:
Warner Bros, Sony Pictures Entertainment and 20th Century Fox are the obvious outlets, but don't count out Paramount. That studio has been co-financing partners with Spyglass on Star Trek and the upcoming sequel. That has grown into a strong relationship. I'm told that Paramount is making an aggressive push to win that franchise, much the way that it captured the Marvel Entertainment deal before that enterprise was sold to Disney. That gave Paramount distribution rights to the Iron Man series and the upcoming films Thor, The First Avenger: Captain America and The Avengers. Obviously, Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson hold a lot of say in where the films go, but it will be a hotly contested property--if MGM indeed stops functioning as a distributor.
Bottom line: Expect an all-out nuclear war among the various majors as they attempt to land the goldmine that comes with the Bond distribution rights.  But the upside is that wherever the franchise lands, it'll probably happen relatively quickly after MGM reorganizes, meaning the next installment will hopefully not have too long of a layover.  Further, it will finally mean an end to the perpetual Sword of Damocles that's hung over the series' for the last quarter-century thanks to MGM's perpetual financial peril.

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