Reports indicate that Apple and Amazon are bidding to own the distribution rights of the James Bond franchise. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the value of the distribution rights is estimated to range between $2 billion and $5 billion.
At a time when the demand for blockbuster intellectual property that transcends borders is high, the rights to the James Bond franchise are said to be massively underexploited. In 2009 Disney paid $4 billion for Marvel. The media conglomerate also paid a similar amount in 2012 when it acquired Lucasfilm which owns the Indiana Jones and Star Wars franchises. Last month Netflix also acquired Millarworld, the comic book firm behind Kingsman and Kick-Ass.
Currently the James Bond franchise is jointly owned by Eon and MGM who also produce the James Bond Movies. The two have been shopping for another distributor after a deal with Sony expired two years ago after the release of Spectre.
Besides Apple and Amazon other firms which are pursuing the contract include Warner Bros, Sony, Universal and 21st Century Fox. The emergence of Amazon and Apple, however, suggests that Eon and MGM want a wider deal in the contract that involves not only distribution but also co-financing. Amazon acquired the United States book rights to the James Bond novels written by Ian Fleming in 2012.
While the television rights to the Bond movies are sold to networks and broadcasters all over the world, analysts are of the view that a deal with either Amazon or Apple could change that.
“If Warner wins, it will be business as normal, they’ll sell on to other players in each market. If Amazon or Apple take the deal, they may not then sell on TV rights, instead using them themselves globally,” Ampere’s Richard Broughton said.
But while the deal’s digital elements are perhaps being considered more seriously this time round compared to previous years by MGM and Eon, the makers of James Bond films are still focused on theatrical releases. The 24th Bond film, Spectre, earned more than $880 million worldwide. Another Bond film is expected to be out in two years and Daniel Craig, the actor playing James Bond currently, has confirmed that he will be playing the role one more time.