Hot from the heels of the WarnerMedia / Discovery merger announcement came news of another major Hollywood deal: Amazon buys MGM for $ 8.45 billion, and with the co-ownership of James Bond film franchise. After investing heavily in original TV shows, Amazon seeks to use the MGM acquisition to massively expand its library of movies and access IP as Rocky/Creed and 007 franchises.
The next James Bond movie, No time to die, has had its release date pushed back many times due to the coronavirus pandemic, and is now ready for release on October 8, 2021. In late 2020, there were reports that the film was shopped around for streaming services at the steep price of $ 600 million (MGM denied that the film was for sale and maintained that it was obligated to “preserve[ing] the theatrical release for moviegoersAmazon’s acquisition of MGM does not affect the release of No time to die, but that may mean that Bond 26 and subsequent films will be Amazon Prime Video exclusive when their theatrical run ends.
In addition to distribution, however, Amazon’s influence on the James Bond franchise has some significant limitations. Here’s why the MGM acquisition is unlikely to have a major impact on 007’s future and the things that may change in the coming year.
Amazon does not have full control over James Bond
MGM co-owns the James Bond film rights with Danjaq LLC, a holding company for the film studio Eon Productions, which has been producing James Bond films since 1961. Eon is a family-run company currently run by Barbara Broccoli, daughter of founder Albert R. Broccoli and her half-brother Michael G. Wilson. In the midst of the film industry’s ever-changing landscape of rights and trades, Eon has been firmly in control of the James Bond brand for more than half a century, with Broccoli and Wilson fiercely protecting the character’s image.
Eon Productions is independent of MGM and is therefore not included in Amazon’s buyout, so everything James Bond related that Amazon wanted to do had to be approved by Eon. In terms of control over this particular franchise, the deal is far from Disney’s acquisition of 20th Century Fox, which gave Disney full control over characters like the X-Men and Fantastic Four. The end result will be more comparable to Disney’s relationship with the Spider-Man series, where there is an agreement to allow the character to appear in Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, but in the end, Sony retains control. MGM may have co-ownership of the 007 film rights, but Eon finally has approval over creative choices, and nothing Bond-related will be done without Broccoli and Wilson’s approval.
How Amazon’s acquisition of MGM could affect 007’s future
In the announcement of the agreement, Prime Video and Amazon Studios senior vice president Mike Hopkins explained that “The real economic value behind this agreement is the treasury of [intellectual property] in the deep catalog that we plan to imagine and develop together with MGM’s talented team. Amazon is investing heavily in long-standing franchises with a large budget Lord of the Rings TV show among its upcoming projects, so the company probably will not just sit patiently on the sidelines as a new James Bond movie is released every few years. In addition to adding the library of existing 007 movies to Amazon Prime’s current content collection, Amazon may also be pushing to expand its franchise with spinoff TV shows or movies.
Whether Eon Productions would approve of a James Bond cinematic universe or not is another matter entirely. Talking to Variety last year about the strict control that Eon maintains over 007, Broccoli explained, “For better or worse, we are stewards of this nature. We take that responsibility seriously. “It is also worth noting that Amazon’s co-ownership of the Bond franchise is a valuable investment, even without extending it beyond the main film series. The last two films in the series, Ghost and Skyfall, brought in $ 880 million and $ 1.1 billion, respectively, in the box office, and James Bond films have been reliably successful hits for 60 years now.
Following the news of Amazon’s acquisition of MGM, James Bond author Josh Logan wrote (Ghost, Skyfall) wrote an essay in New York Times to express concern about the limitations of the creative process of making a Bond film, which Logan described as being “familiar” as opposed to the Marvel Cinematic Universe or DC franchise film. The long-term effect may be that future James Bond films will be less of a creative venture and more to streamline a franchise for the general public. Time will tell if that will be the case, but the fact that Eon Productions still has some control may keep the Logan process discussed intact. As for whether Bond films will continue to be released in theaters, Broccoli recently revealed that Amazon is dedicated to continuing to release future James Bond films theatrically, and that these films will continue to be made with a theatrical run in mind. However, Broccoli ended the statement with, “we see what happens, “which suggests that this may change in the future. For now, however, it looks like future Bond movies will continue to be released in theaters, just as they have been in the past, with the likelihood that they will be exclusive to Amazon. Prime Video after the end of the 45-day theater window.
Will no Time to Die be released on Amazon Prime?
Amazon’s acquisition of MGM does not affect theatrical release plans for No time to die, which has had distribution agreements in place for years. Universal is ready to handle overseas publishing, while MGM handles distribution in North America. There is certainly no fear of that No time to die will skip the cinemas completely and go straight to Amazon Prime. To begin with, it would have meant leaving huge sums on the table, as theater participation will hopefully return to pre-pandemic level by October. More importantly, though, Broccoli and Wilson said in a statement to Variety after the news of Amazon’s acquisition of MGM that James Bond movies will continue to be released in theaters first, with Broccoli repeating that mood again recently.
While it may be a streaming giant, Amazon has been in the movie business for several years now, overseeing theatrical releases of movies like Suspiria and Beautiful boy. It is highly unlikely that Amazon would limit the profitability of a franchise as large (and expensive) as James Bond by ignoring theaters and releasing the movies directly for streaming, even if Eon was willing to allow such a thing. So James Bond fans can be sure that they will continue to have the opportunity to experience the films for the first time on the big screen – at least in the foreseeable future.
If the Amazon / MGM agreement is completed within the next few months, No time to die could very well be added to the Amazon Prime Videos library after its theatrical run – but only in North America, where MGM has distribution rights. As the global distribution rights belong to Universal, overseas moviegoers are likely to pay extra for the streaming release of No time to die. However, the deal is not expected to close until mid-2022 (with some groups asking the Federal Trade Commission to block Amazon’s acquisition of MGM). Whatever happens to No time to die, Eon Productions has a process of taking James Bond movies one at a time, which means there are no distribution agreements in place yet for Bond 26. Therefore, this and other future sequels are likely to be made available for free to Amazon Prime Video subscribers , as part of a streaming library that will be much larger when MGM’s catalog joins it.
More: Daniel Craig’s James Bond Summary: What to Remember Before You Die
- No Time to Die / James Bond 25 (2021)Release Date: October 8, 2021
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