Sometimes the drama of the movies is matched by the drama going on behind the scenes.
As many moviegoers will likely know (particularly if you’re paying attention to those opening credits where they show the movie distributors and producers’ logos), Sony Pictures Entertainment has been the distributor for the James Bond series since 2006 beginning with Casino Royale, which was of course Daniel Craig’s first time taking on the secret spy identity.
It’s proven to be a worthy investment for Sony as Casino Royale and its subsequent three films collected a whopping $3.5 billion at the worldwide box office (after adjusting for inflation). However, according to the NY Times, Sony’s contract to market and distribute the films expired in 2015 with Spectre. Since then, the two companies that control the franchise but do not distribute their own films — namely Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Eon Productions —have been presented with a number of proposals by film studios who want the rights (according to people briefed on the sessions).
Sony continue to make their case to hold onto the rights, reportedly giving an elaborate ‘presentation inside a sound stage on a recreated set from “Dr. No”’, but they have competition from four major studios which you’ll likely already be familiar with: Warner Bros., Universal Pictures, 20th Century Fox and Annapurna (Paramount and Disney, the latter which has plenty of franchises to work with already sure, have both bowed out). Annapurna would probably be the least familiar to the public (its bigger hits include Lawless and Zero Dark Thirty) but it is becoming increasingly commercial and landing Bond would be a major deal for the company.
Interestingly, MGM and Eon seem to be showing a lot of caution with the future of the spy series as they are offering a contract for only one film (the last Sony deal was for four).
According to NY Times, the deal that the studios are competing for won’t be very profitable, citing how much in production and marketing costs Sony had to fork out before getting their cut of the profits (they also gave MGM a cut from the profits of non-Bond films), but that the tug-of-war remains fierce due to Bond being essentially a reliable hit.
If you’re hoping for an update on Craig, there’s been no word except, only what has been emphasised before, which is that producers do hope the actor will sign on to play Bond for at least one more film.