Apple and Amazon in the race for James Bond rights
James R | On 09, Sep 2017
James Bond could soon find a new home at Apple or Amazon.
007 has been the talk of the summer this year, as speculation continued to surround the future of Daniel Craig in the role. While he has now confirmed that he will done the double-0 tux one more time, with Bond 25 officially slated for a release in November 2019, Ian Fleming’s spy remains a hot topic of conversation behind closed doors.
For all the focus on SPECTRE marking a potentially departure from the series by its lead star, it definitely marked a more dramatic parting of the ways: it was the final film to be covered by Sony’s deal with the franchise. Since then, MGM has been trying to find a new distribution partner.
While the films really mark an actual profit for the company distributing them, the prestige that comes with the 007 makes it a hot ticket for any major Hollywood player, with Universal, Fox, Sony and Warner Bros. all pursuing the property.
Hollywood, though, is a changing landscape, and that means other contenders are in the ring too. With Amazon Studios now boasting a couple of Oscars to its film division, its commercial clout is on the up, with the online retailer inking a deal to self-distribute its first film: Woody Allen’s Wonder Wheel. It has also teamed up with Warner Bros. to co-fund an adaptation of Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch. Extending that partnership with Warners for James Bond would not be out of the equation.
The surprising name at the table, though, is Apple, with The Hollywood Reporter revealing that the tech and music giant has thrown its fruity hat into the ring.
Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht, who left their post as co-presidents of Sony Pictures Television this summer to join Apple, are apparently spearheading the negotiations.
UTA’s Yale Chasin told THR: “Apple is the biggest digital outlet for movies, so I think they are always present in the conversation whether they’re upfront or behind any other distributor out there that’s turning to them for real control in the digital market.”
It helps that 007 remains one of the last major brands that are still out in the open, and relatively independent. Indeed, in recent years, Disney has shown that power that can be leveraged by purchasing a major brand, with Star Wars not owned by a major corporation until the House of Mouse snapped it up. Bond’s global reach is certainly to be admired, but there is also potential for further expansion of the IP, from merchandising and movie spin-offs to TV series.
Sources tell THR that Eon producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, stalwarts and gatekeepers of the franchise, are thinking traditionally about 007’s future, but Amazon and Apple’s presence in the talks highlight just how much the game is changing: both could open up new revenues for both production and related branded produce. One insider pegs the value of the franchise, when all that is taken into account, at anywhere up to possibly $5 billion.