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MGM and Sony plan to raise $45m for Bond 23 product placement

01-May-2011 • Skyfall

One-third of the budget for the next James Bond film is to come from brands that will appear on screen, making it the biggest product-placement bonanza in cinema history, reports The Australian.

Under a deal struck between the MGM studio and the film's distributor, Sony, $45 million will be raised from companies wanting their brands displayed on screen, says a New York marketing executive.

The figure is twice the previous record, held by Steven Spielberg's Minority Report, released in 2002. Lexus, Bulgari and American Express together paid about $20m to appear in the film.

Although the new production, codenamed Bond 23, is not due to reach cinemas before November next year, when the world's most successful film franchise will be celebrating its 50th anniversary, Sony is already establishing brand "ambassadors" to liaise with potential sponsors including, for the first time, Chinese technology entrepreneurs.

Spending on product placement in US films, television shows and video games tripled between 2004 and 2009, reaching about $3 billion, according to PQ Media, a research company.

Until the recession, Volkswagen and its linked company, Porsche, were spending $210m a year to ensure their cars were driven by screen heroes.

The Bond series has long profited from product placement. The most prominent include the three-film deal signed with BMW in 1995, starting with GoldenEye, for the fictional spy to use its cars.

Fans fear Bond scripts are being distorted by the needs of advertisers to plug products.

Their worries are shared by Morgan Spurlock, director of the documentary Super Size Me, in which he ate only McDonald's food for a month.

In his latest film, The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, exploring product placement, he derides lingering close-up shots of Ericsson phones in the last two Bond films. But he has a "special place in hell" for a scene on a train in Casino Royale in which 007 talked about his Omega watch to Vesper Lynd, his love interest, played by Eva Green. "The fact you are having a conversation about a watch is ridiculous," said Spurlock.

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