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Bidding War

6th June 2015

With the Sony Pictures distribution deal expiring after 'SPECTRE', eyes turn to Warner Bros for MGM's new partner for 007

MI6 logo By MI6 Staff
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'SPECTRE', the 24th James Bond film, marks the second of a two movie extension signed by Sony Pictures and MGM to co-finance and distribute the 007 franchise.

With MGM cash-strapped following its restructure - and later bankruptcy filing in 2010 - the Sony deal (which was more a necessity for MGM and somewhat of a coo for Sony who had been after 007 for years) first fell in to place for 'Casino Royale' and 'Quantum of Solace.' With the franchise back on track and Daniel Craig tested at the international box-office, Sony and MGM re-signed in 2011 to co-finance Bond 23 and Bond 24, which turned out to be 'Skyfall' and 'SPECTRE.' "Sony Pictures is the ideal studio partner for us as MGM re-enters the filmmaking business. We have longstanding relationships with Michael and Amy and look forward to what promises to be a prosperous future together," said MGM Co-Chairmen and Chief Executive Officers Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum back in 2011.

'Amy' was Amy Pascal, who was Co-Chairman of Sony Pictures at the time, and had established a strong relationship with EON producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson. Everything seemed to be going smoothly for Sony's involvement in Bond 24 until the Guardians of the Peace hack and Sony email dump late last year made Pascal's exit inevitable. The announcement of her departure came in February.

So, with the last Bond movie under the deal about to be released in a few months, it is time for MGM to either extend with Sony without Pascal, go it alone, or find another distributor to partner with.

Newly appointed Sony Pictures group chairman Tom Rothman gave an exclusive interview to Variety this week and expressed his concern that they may not be front-runners for a new deal. "The reality is that Sony's had a fantastic run with the Bonds," said Rothman. "Sure we're going to compete for (the rights), but let's be honest, so is everybody in the business. He added, "This Bond is going to be great and...hopefully we'll do as good a job as we did on the last one."

Speculation is mounting that the tight relationship between MGM chief Gary Barber and Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara could see the lion favouring a deal with a new partner. MGM and Warner Bros have already teamed up on the 'Hobbit' trilogy and the upcoming Rocky spin-off 'Creed.'

All of which has lead the internet to explode with ridiculous rumours of Bond and the DC comic book franchises sharing the same universe. Yes, they could possible share the same distribution studio in the near future, but Bond will never cross paths with another franchise whilst EON have creative control. 'Bond versus Batman' will remain in the realm of fan fiction.

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