When the new MGM revealed it would be looking for another studio to take over marketing and distribution of its films, Hollywood salivated at the chance to release their crown jewel, the next James Bond film. Even though another studio typically just receives a distribution fee for their services (usually 8-10%), the prestige of having the 007 franchise in their stable and the assist in market share made Paramount Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros. and Sony Pictures all pitch their services. Now, numerous reports have Bond in a familiar home, but at a price.
The last two James Bond features, “Casino Royale” and “Quantum of Solace,” were co-financed and released by Sony Pictures. Working with longtime Bond rights holders EON Productions, Sony turned Bond into a 21st Century action hero and both films became the highest grossing ever for the franchise. It was only a two-picture deal, however, and a rejuvenated MGM was seemingly back in charge for Daniel Craig’s third outing until bankruptcy hit last year. Over 12 months of legal maneuverings, layoffs and re-financing later, MGM is now a shadow of its former self under new studio heads Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum. The once mighty lion is more of a production company now than anything else, but their new owners are going to hawk Bond for all its worth. Brazenly, Barber and Birnhaum told suitors in order to get Bond, they needed to allow MGM to co-finance some of that company’s (not their own) slate. And amazingly, it looks like Sony bit on the terms.
Deadline reports that Sony Pictures will allow MGM to co-finance part of David Fincher’s “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” starring Rooney Mara and Craig. If the report is completely true, Sony is giving up millions potential profit just for the chance to market and distribute a Bond film. “Tattoo” is the English-language adaptation of Steig Larsson’s critically acclaimed and popular novel which has sold millions of copies worldwide. Moreover, a Swedish-language “Tattoo” has grossed over $104 million worldwide. Needless to say, if those are the real parameters of the deal, many in Hollywood will be scratching their why Sony gave up so much on this one. Of course, moviegoers will likely be more fixated on whether Javier Bardem or Ralph Fiennes really make worthy adversaries, if rumors are to be believed, for her majesty’s finest.
No matter what studio releases it, the next James Bond film is expected to hit theaters Nov. 9, 2012.