Ever since Daniel Craig took on the role of James Bond for the first time with 2006’s Casino Royale, the movies have been theatrically distributed by Sony. But the theatrical deal between Eon Productions (which controls the franchise along with MGM) and Sony expired after 2015’s Spectre, and as plans come together for the 25th Bond outing, the rights to distribute the movie are up for grabs.
According to the New York Times, five studios are in the mix: Sony, Warner Bros, 20th Century Fox, Universal and Annapurna Pictures. Sony, being the incumbent, is in a good position as the company has guided the last four Bond pictures to tremendous worldwide box office grosses. Annapurna, meanwhile, is the wild card: the well-financed company is nonetheless still untried when it comes to marketing and distributing tentpoles, having focused mainly until now on artier fare.
Two other major studios, Paramount and Disney, are not getting involved in the fray. Paramount has tremendous problems of its own for now and has just gone through a management shake-up, while Disney has more than enough on its plate between Star Wars, Marvel and Pixar.
The financial incentive to partner with MGM and Eon — currently run by Barbara Broccoli — reportedly isn’t too great. In spite of grossing over $800 million worldwide, Sony’s actual profit, once everyone had their slice, was reportedly quite low on Spectre. The studio reportedly put up 50% of the production costs on the 007 films while getting only 25% of the profits, with MGM also nabbing a share of the profits from non-Bond Sony films to boot. Plus Sony didn’t benefit from the DVD and Blu-ray releases, the rights to which have been maintained by Fox.
Another aspect of all this is that the theatrical rights at the moment are available for just one film. That would add fuel to speculation that Daniel Craig is returning for a final adventure, before the 007 series does another soft reboot. None of that has been confirmed, however.