As we reported yesterday, a massive bidding war has broken out between five studios for the rights to James Bond.
The five studios - Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox, Universal, current holders Sony, and indie powerhouse Annapurna - are all vying for the coveted franchise, but have stipulated that the studio will only win the rights to make one film. It's likely that a new deal for more films will be negotiated depending on how the film performs both critically and commercially under whichever studio wins out.
James Bond is, as we know, the ultimate franchise and has been a solid money-spinner since the '60 and has always been a crowd-pleasing romp for audiences, despite a couple of duds here and there throughout its storied history. Taking Bond into the future, however, is going to take some doing. As well as offering generous financial terms and incentives, each studio is going to have to put together a compelling reason as to why they should win out over the other. It could be their talent pool, their ready-made stars and actors, it could be that they're the least likely to win it.
Looking at you, Annapurna Pictures.
With that in mind, we've decided to wildly speculate as to what the elevator pitch will be for each studio. We start with...
Sony won the rights to Bond in 2005 when MGM was acquired by Sony, with MGM filing for bankruptcy five years later. Despite this, Sony has reliably shepherded Bond out of the Pierce Brosnan era and into the hardcore, stripped back viciousness of the Daniel Craig era. Martin Campbell smartly recognised that Bond was in danger of becoming redundant in a world where terrorism was a daily reality and gadgetry just wasn't the fashion. Despite a misstep with Quantum Of Solace, both Skyfall and Spectre performed well and received critical acclaim. Sony's best route to keeping Bond is to stay the course as it is.
Considering that Daniel Craig still seems keen on playing the character again, Sony can put the feelers out to indie directors to carry on Sam Mendes' more nuanced vision. It could be really anyone. Nicholas Winding Refn was mentioned at one point as a possible director, and it's clear that if Sony trusts a director enough, they'll let him or her do what they feel is right. In other words, Sony's tactic is likely to be steady as she goes.
- Possible director: Susanne Bier
- Possible Bond: Daniel Craig
Universal is already working on reviving its Universal Monsters properties, bringing in Tom Cruise to open this summer's The Mummy with more on the way. It's quite possible that Universal is throwing its oar in merely for appearance's sake and doesn't actually want to win the rights to Bond. That said, there's only two movies left in the Fast And Furi-verse and they'll need to find something to fill that void. How Universal will approach Bond, however, is what may stand in their way. The Bourne franchise - which was directly responsible for Casino Royale and the Daniel Craig era - is at Universal. This means that if Universal gets Bond, they'll have to differentiate it completely from Bourne as the two will be in direct competition.
Therefore, Universal's only option for Bond is to reinvent it entirely. That means casting a younger Bond - taking it back to the '60s, even - and rebooting the whole thing from top to bottom. That won't wash with audiences, who are used to seeing Bond develop and mirror the times they live in. There's a chance, of course, that they may simply take the playbook laid out by Sam Mendes / Daniel Craig and continue to run with that, but there's no guarantees on either Sam Mendes or Daniel Craig's involvement. Universal, however, does have a relationship with Peter Morgan. 2013's Rush and 2008's Frost / Nixon were both distributed by Universal and it's conceivable that they could bring him to write the screenplay. Peter Morgan intimated previously that he had a Bond screenplay tucked away somewhere, but never specified what happened with.
- Possible director: Joe Wright or Danny Boyle
- Possible Bond: James McAvoy
If Fox were to win Bond, there's really no telling how it'll work. The most likely director to work on the opening film - if they win, of course - is Bryan Singer. Valkyrie, The Usual Suspects and X-Men: First Class (which he produced) all had shades of Bond. Singer definitely would be an interesting choice, and paired with a good script from Jane Goldman, it could really work. There's just one problem with all of that - Fox is already working on its own take on Bond, in the form of Kingsman. That's not to say that Fox can't have both, but considering how well Kingsman did because it had no expectation or weight of history behind it, it seems less and less likely. Not only that, Kingsman was pretty much a send-up of Bond.
The only way Fox could make Bond work is if they parked Kingsman after this year's The Golden Circle and diverted the creative team behind it - that's Matthew Vaughn and the aforementioned Jane Goldman - into making Bond. Keep in mind, both of these pretty much did a Bond film already. X-Men: First Class originally began life as X-Men Origins: Magneto, which was intended to be Magneto as Bond travelling the world and hunting Nazis in the '60s.
- Possible director: Bryan Singer or Matthew Vaughn
- Possible Bond: Michael Fassbender or Aidan Turner
Annapurna has a history of taking gambles, some paid and some didn't. Their biggest movie to date was American Hustle, which grossed $251.2 million worldwide against a production budget of $40million. Spectre cost something in the region of $250 million and raked in $880.7 million worldwide. There is no math here that suggests Annapurna Pictures could handle it. That's not to say that they wouldn't do something really interesting with it.
They definitely would. But the fact remains that Annapurna Pictures has no experience with taking on a major blockbuster like this and EON are unlikely to hand it to an untested entity. Essentially, Annapurna has two things going for it that could help it to win Bond. It has a solid reputation for making critically-acclaimed films and they're small enough that EON and Danjaq - the rights' holders of Bond - would have a stronger say in its production. What Annapurna would do with Bond really is anyone's guess. The list of directors they've worked with in the past is a who's-who of indie talent; Kathryn Bigelow, Paul Thomas Anderson, John Hillcoat, Spike Jonze, David O. Russell. Anyone of them could conceivably take on Bond and make it into something truly unique.
- Possible director: John Hillcoat
- Possible Bond: Charlie Cox
Realistically, Warner Bros. is the one to beat. Christopher Nolan has publicly stated - on numerous occasions - that he wants to do a Bond movie and even referenced it in the opening sequence of The Dark Knight Rises and in the overall of Inception. Now that the DC Universe is off on its own track without him, Warner Bros. is very likely keen to keep Nolan from going elsewhere to work on his next film.
Not only that, Nolan working on a Bond movie is a licence to print money. He's one of the few directors working today that audiences will turn up for on his name alone, and the fact that he has a cultural affinity and understanding on Bond means that he's the most logical and likely choice for it. Despite the solid money that Suicide Squad and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice has made, the fate of the DC Universe is hanging in the balance and after all the drama surrounding The Batman, Warner Bros. would want to have another franchise in case they decide to pull the plug on the DC franchises.
As well as all this, Warner Bros. has a strong talent pool of actors they could call upon to star as Bond and throw in Christopher Nolan on top of that and you've got a gigantic payday for the studio and EON.
- Possible director: Christopher Nolan
- Possible Bond: Tom Hardy
So, what do you think? Who's the most likely to win and who do you think should win? Who do you think should direct the next Bond movie? Let us know what you think in the comments!