Updated: Fox Not Acquiring Distribution Rights for James Bond Franchise


UPDATE [October 6 @ 1:30p CST]: Film School Rejects has been contacted directly by MGM, who says that the report that Fox will be taking over distribution of the Bond franchise is incorrect. According to an official source, MGM owns the James Bond franchise and will announce the release date and distribution strategy in due time.

The rights go to Fox, 20th Century Fox.

Our good friends over at We Are Movie Geeks have what could very well be a very big scoop this evening, assuming of course, that it turns out to be true. As you might have heard, MGM is in a bit of financial trouble, securing support from JP Morgan to defer the interest payments on its massive debt load for the next three years in order to maintain a stake in The Hobbit, which as THR reported yesterday, is still a go for director Guillermo Del Toro and producer Peter Jackson.

But where does that leave MGM’s other big money-maker, the James Bond franchise? According to the WAMG report, it leaves it in the hands of 20th Century Fox. Here’s the direct quote, for those completists among you: “A source close to the dealings has let We Are Movie Geeks know that Bond is alive and well, and will be settling into his new domicile for marketing and distribution at 20th Century Fox.”

Originally distributed by United Artists when the franchise began in the 1960s, the Bond franchise has since been under the banner of MGM in partnership with UA since the early 1980s, and then under the Columbia Pictures banner when MGM was acquired by Sony Pictures Entertainment, in a consortium including Sony, Comcast, TPG Capital, L.P. and Providence Equity Partners, in 1995. Albert Broccoli and Harry Saltzman co-produced the EON films until 1975, when Broccoli became the sole producer. Since 1995, Broccoli’s daughter Barbara and stepson Michael G. Wilson have co-produced them.

According to reports, the current deal is set to expire at MGM/Sony in mid-December, at which time 20th Century Fox (who has handled home video distribution on both Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace) will take over. Of course, there is no word yet about the forthcoming Bond 23, which is said to have a targeted release date in 2011, according to statements made in various interviews by producer Michael G. Wilson. If anything, the move from MGM to Fox could put a spring in the step of Bond producers, as Fox would be able to provide proper backing to get the project off the ground. Right now the focus at MGM seems to be staying head-above-water long enough to get The Hobbit into theaters. It is sad to see them lose the Bond franchise, as they and their Columbia pictures partners have churned out two great films in the past 3 years, but this is how the world works — and if pushed to make a prediction, I would probably say that this move won’t effect the creative vision behind the Bond films one bit, as most of that rests with Wilson and Barbara Broccoli.

What do you think of Bond moving his closet full of tuxedos over to the Fox lot?

Neil Miller is the Founder and Publisher of Film School Rejects. For almost a decade, he has been talking movies on television, the radio, and the Internet. As of yet, no one has stopped him.

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