MGM plans 007 releases every two years, seeks partnership for Bond 23 in 2012

Skyfall - 04-11-10
The wheels of production are starting to spin up again at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, who filed for pre-packaged bankruptcy in Manhattan federal court after rejecting a takeover bid by Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. and billionaire Carl Icahn.

MGM plans to spend as much as $125 million on operations in the next 15 weeks. MGM said it’s has already spent $20 million to fund production of films based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel, “The Hobbit,” in a co-production deal with Time Warner Inc.’s New Line Cinema, and may need to spend more. Three films based on “The Lord of the Rings,” the sequel to “Hobbit,” grossed about $3 billion at the box office worldwide, MGM said to Bloomberg.

New James Bond films may be released every second year starting in November 2012, MGM said. It aims to own 50 percent of Bond 23, due out that year, with an equal partner paying all of the production costs, it said. Later Bond movies would be wholly owned and funded by MGM, the company said.

Two potential suitors for Bond 23 financing and distribution are Paramount and Sony.

Spyglass chiefs Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum, who will be taking charge of production at MGM as part of the restructuring deal, are close to Paramount who co-funded the smash-hit "Star Trek" reboot.

Sony distributed the last two James Bond outings under the agreement reached when the company was part of the consortium that took over MGM in 2005. It now owns a 14% stake. Sony have made it public that they would love to be involved again, but it looks like a bidding war between rival distributors will be taking place before Bond 23 is officially green-lit.

2012 marks the 50th anniversary of the EON Productions series of James Bond films. Assuming Daniel Craig honours his contract for a third film, it would also be the longest gap between Bond movies without a change in the lead role.

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Earlier Story: Britain and Israel sign filming deal, Bond 23 linked with location

Later Story: Judge approves MGM bankruptcy plan, could be clear in 30 days

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