New updates abound for the troubled pre-production of the 23rd film in the James Bond franchise. For a while work on the film had come to a standstill when its studio, MGM, was forced into bankruptcy. But recently, MGM got a bunch of their financial woes sorted out, acquired some new leadership, and the green light on more Bond seemed to be glowing. The only problem was that MGM didn’t have the resources to distribute the film themselves, so they had to find another studio to sign on to handle the distribution duties. Enter Sony.

Sony was the studio with the rights to Bond 21 and 22, which ended up being Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. Before these productions we were still in the Pierce Brosnan era of Bond, and while that started pretty strong the petals had come off the rose a bit. After decades of James Bond being a dark haired gent that had over the top, cartoony adventures, Sony took a big risk by pushing fair-haired Daniel Craig into the Bond role and changing the look and feel of the series to something more grounded and real. And they spent a lot of money promoting the changeover. That’s a lot of time, effort, and money put into a franchise that got handed over to MGM. Sony didn’t like this, Sony wanted back in. And getting the distribution rights to Bond 23 was their ticket to doing so. But there were several other studios vying for that opportunity as well. Enter MGM’s shrewd negotiations.

Not only did MGM insist on signing someone to a distribution fee that was under 8%, they also were demanding that whoever sign on to put out Bond also give them financial stakes in one of their big existing franchises. Fox, Paramount, and Warner Bros. balked at the idea, but Sony seemed to be willing to do whatever it took to get the deal done. So they have now been tapped to handle the distribution for Bond 23, and in return have given MGM a piece of the upcoming English language adaptation of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, which is being helmed by David Fincher. With all of Fincher’s recent attention due to his Social Network success, and with all of the buzz around the success of the Steig Larsson novels and their Swedish film adaptations, this one is sure to be a big earner at the box office.

Seems like a good trade to me, Sony gets their Bond back, MGM gets some much needed cash flowing in. Is this going to be the strategy for MGM going forward? Finding a way to leverage percentages of other people’s films until they’re back on their feet enough to resume doing their own thing? Their execs might be flipping through a portfolio of upcoming franchise films as we speak: need ‘em, need ‘em, got ‘em, need ‘em…

Source: Deadline Waukegan


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