Why we guess Bond 24 won’t be out until at least 2015

Daniel Craig in Skyfall

Daniel Craig in Skyfall

This week, Gary Barber, the CEO of MGM Holdings Inc., the parent company of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, said the company is “hoping within the next three years” that Bond 24 will be released.

That’s a much different tune that late 2010 when MGM, in bankruptcy court, said it planned TO GET THE BOND FILM SERIES BACK ON AN EVERY-OTHER-YEAR SCHEDULE. It was even different from November when Barber told investors that MGM was “hopeful” that Bond 24 could come out in 2014. “If not in ’14, certainly in ’15,” he said at that time.

With these week’s comments by Barber, entertainment Web sites such as WHATCULTURE! and FLICK DAILY are taking the MGM CEO literally and saying Bond 24 won’t be out until 2016. That’s probably extreme, but Barber and MGM clearly are backing off the idea of Bond 24 coming out in 2014.

Here are our guesses why:

Eon Productions (which actually makes the 007 films) doesn’t seem keen on a 2014 timetable: Last year, an executive of Sony Pictures (which co-financed Skyfall with MGM and co-financed the movie) said Bond 24 would make a 2014 release date. Barbara Broccoli and Skyfall star Daniel Craig slapped that idea down in an interview with COLLIDER.COM.

(QUESTION:) Last week Rory, the president of distribution of Sony, announced Bond 24 for I guess late 2014…

Broccoli: He was getting a little overexcited (laughs). We’re just actually focusing on this movie. One hopes that in the future we’ll be announcing other films, but no one’s officially announced it (emphasis added)

Craig: No one’s announced anything. He got a little ahead of himself (laughs).

(emphasis added)

Actually, somebody had announced something — an executive of Sony Pictures, an Eon Productions business partner who was acting in his official capacity, had announced that Bond 24 was coming out in another two years. In effect, Broccoli and Craig were saying, “Move along, nothing to see here.”

In an interview with the LOS ANGELES TIMES, Barbara Broccoli had this comment about studios:

“Sometimes there are external pressures from a studio who want you to make it in a certain time frame or for their own benefit, and sometimes we’ve given into that,” Broccoli said. “But following what we hope will be a tremendous success with ‘Skyfall,’ we have to try to keep the deadlines within our own time limits and not cave in to external pressures.”

In the case of MGM, it co-owns the 007 franchise with Eon. But, based on these comments, it would seem as if Broccoli doesn’t view MGM exactly as a partner. At the very least, it doesn’t sound like Broccoli wants to hurry the process along. Meanwhile, Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, Broccoli’s half brother and the other-co boss of Eon, had this to say in an interview with the DEN OF GEEK! Web site:

Have any preparations been made for Bond 24 yet?

Broccoli: No, no.

How long a space do you think you’ll need?

Wilson: If we’re rapid it’ll be two years, if we’re not it’ll be three. (emphasis added)

It’s not as critical for MGM to get Bond 24 out by 2014: When MGM made that filing in bankruptcy court it was, well, bankrupt. This week, it reported considerably improved financial results for 2012, much of it from Skyfall and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

The Hobbit has release dates for sequels in 2013 and 2014. Presumably, MGM will want Bond 24 sooner than later, but a 2014 release date isn’t a matter of life and death for the studio. Meanwhile, Bond remains an important asset for MGM and CEO Barber talked on this week’s investor call how the company was working with its “partners” (his words) at Eon. If Eon isn’t that keen for a 2014 release, Barber has less reason to force the issue at this point.

To quote M from the film You Only Live Twice, “Mind you, all of this is pure guess work.” But our guess is that a 2015 release for Bond 24 is more likely than a 2014 one.

MGM watch: Studio CEO is cagey about Bond 24 release date

MGM logo

The top executive of MGM Holdings Inc., parent company of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, was cagey about a release date for Bond 24 during an investor call on March 19.

“The timetable is not set yet,” Chief Executive Officer Gary Barber said in response to a question. “We’re hoping within the next three years it will be released.”

When MGM was in bankruptcy court in 2010, part of its business plan was to get the 007 movies back on an every-other-year schedule, with Bond 24 coming out in 2014. Barber said nothing about a 2014 release date during the March 19 call.

Referring to Bond 24, Barber also said, “We’re currently developing the screenplay and we’re working with our partners at Danjaq. We look forward to developing the script soon and signing a director in the near future.” Danjaq LLC is responsible for copyrights and trademarks of the 007 films which are produced by Eon Productions, run by Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli.

Barber was also asked why Sam Mendes, the director of Skyfall, wasn’t returning for a 007 encore.

“He did an amazing job on Skyfall. We’re very thankful for the work he did. He decided to pursue other interests at this time. We look forward to announcing a director soon. We’re very thrilled about where we’re taking the franchise.”

A replay of the investor call is on the INVESTORS RELATIONS SECTION OF MGM’S WEB SITE. Barber’s comments about Bond 24 came during the question-and-answer session, which begins about half-way through the call. Barber, on a November investor call, confirmed that John Logan was writing the scripts for Bond 24 and Bond 25.

MGM owns half the 007 franchise with Danjaq/Eon. MGM co-financed Skyfall with Sony Pictures, which actually released the movie. MGM and Sony will repeat the arrangement on Bond 24.

MGM watch: Skyfall helps make studio profitable

Skyfall's poster image

Skyfall’s poster image

MGM Holdings Inc., parent company of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, said it turned a profit for 2012, much of it on the strength of Skyfall, the 23rd James Bond film, and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

MGM’s profit totaled $129 million for the year on revenue of $1.38 billion. the company said in had an adjusted profit (i.e. what the profit would have been if it didn’t have to pay taxes, interest and other costs) of $286 million, according to a company statement. That measure, known as EBITDA (or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization), is used by some investors as a way to gauge a company’s financial performance.

MGM said it was the first studio to have back-to-back films with $1 billion or more in ticket sales each. The company had a $40.2 million profit for the year’s fourth quarter (a period that included the releases of Skyfall and The Hobbit), and $147.7 million EBITDA. That compares with an $11 million loss (and $19.4 million EBITDA profit) for 2011’s fourth quarter.

Fourth-quarter revenue totaled $902.6 million. or 65 percent of the revenue MGM had for the entire year.

MGM co-financed both of its hit movies, Skyfall with Sony Pictures and The Hobbit with Time Warner’s Warner Bros. Skyfall also involved splitting the take with Eon Productions, which produces the 007 films.

MGM went through bankruptcy in 2010, which resulted in the current executive team led by CEO Gary Barber being installed.

Skyfall now No. 2 for 2012 movies, No. 7 all-time

Skyfall's poster image

Skyfall’s poster image

Skyfall, the 23rd James Bond film, is now the second-highest for 2012 movie ticket sales and No. 7 all-time, according to Box Office Mojo.

The Web site, which tracks movie ticket sales, now estimates Skyfall’s box office at $1.09 billion as of 3 p.m. New York time.

The Sam Mendes-directed Skyfall has now passed The Dark Knight Returns at $1.08 billion. The final of director Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies had held the No. 2 spot for 2012 and No. 7 slot for all-time. Mendes has said previously that Nolan’s second Batman film, The Dark Knight, influenced the development of Skyfall.

The No. 1 2012 movie for ticket sales was Marvel’s The Avengers at $1.51 billion, which is also No. 3 all-time. All figures not adjusted for inflation.

Skyfall will be released on home video this month.

Skyfall’s legacy

Skyfall's poster image

Skyfall’s poster image

As Skyfall’s run in theaters ends (outside of China, anyway), there have been various efforts to analyze its place in 007 history, including whether or not it should be considered the top Bond performer even adjusted for inflation.

Here’s a simpler evaluation, without math or complicated comparison of box office from different eras over a half century: Skyfall, whether you liked it (and many did) or not, re-established or confirmed (depending on your view) Agent 007 as a major player in pop culture.

Not that long ago, Harry Potter films had passed 007 for worldwide ticket sales. Many 007 fans cried foul, saying such comparisons were unfair. Today, after Skyfall has reached No. 8 all time in adjusted ticket sales? You don’t hear that so much.

In 2008, Quantum of Solace got off to a strong opening weekend in the U.S. but faltered the next weekend when Twilight,the first of series of movies about young vampires, arrived in theaters. Four years later, Skyfall and 007 got even, recording higher ticket sales, even in the U.S., Twilight’s home ground for The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2, the final bow of the young vampires.

All of this occurred despite a bankruptcy at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the studio that controls half of the 007 franchise. It happened despite a four-year hiatus for 007.

Is 007 as big as 1965, when Thunderball set a James Bond box office record for (unadjusted for inflation) worldwide ticket sales that would stand until 1973’s Live And Let Die? Well, 1965 was a big year for Bond: it started out with Goldfinger still playing in theaters, was followed by a Dr. No-From Russia With Love getting re-released as a double feature and concluded with Thunderball. Thanks to home video, that kind of almost-constant run in theaters can’t happen today.

On the other hand, remember Thunderball wasn’t even the most popular movie in the year it was released. The Sound of Music had higher U.S.-Canada ticket sales than Thunderball did worldwide. Thunderball was a huge hit, to be sure, but some fans may remember it as being even larger than it was.

Skyfall, which debuted in Chinese theaters last week, is right behind The Dark Knight Rises for No. 7 all-time (unadjusted) and No. 2 movie worldwide for 2012 releases.

Eon Productions, MGM and Sony Pictures (which has released the last three 007 films) face a tough comparison when Bond 24 goes into production. But that’s a discussion for another day. As of early 2013, Harry Potter, Twilight and Batman (at least until the next reboot) have fallen away; agent 007 is still plugging away. That’s Skyfall’s real legacy.

Skyfall jumps to No. 8 all time after China ticket sales

Agent Eve is rather excited about Skyfall's box office.

Agent Eve is rather excited about Skyfall’s box office.

Skyfall jumped to No. 8 in all time worldwide ticket sales from No. 11 a week ago after the 007 film’s first week of ticket sales in China.

The 23rd James Bond film’s worldwide total rose to $1.078 billion as of 11:55 a.m. New York time, according to BOX OFFICE MOJO. That did not include an estimate for U.S.-Canada weekend ticket sales. so the figure will probably be revised later today

Skyfall generated $18 million in ticket sales in China within its first four days of release, according to THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER ON JAN. 24.

As a result, Skyfall has passed Toy Story 3 and Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Man’s Chest on the all-time list by unadjusted worldwide ticket sales. It’s just below (again as of 11:55 a.m.) The Dark Knight Rises at No. 7 at $1.081 billion.

UPDATE (2:45 p.m.): Skyfall doesn’t show up on Box Office Mojo’s U.S.-CANADA CHART FOR THE JAN. 25-27 WEEKEND. It’s still at some theaters, but if Box Office Mojo is correct, the film didn’t generate $18,000 in U.S.-Canada ticket sales this weekend. In any event, Box Office Mojo didn’t revise Skyfall’s worldwide ticket sale figure after 11:55 a.m.

UPDATE II (Jan. 28): Box Office Mojo updated Skyfall’s worldwide total to $1.0785 billion after adding U.S.-Canada ticket sales over the weekend. The U.S. Canada total is now $302 million.

Skyfall sells almost $301 million in U.S.-Canada tickets

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Skyfall, the 23rd James Bond film, is almost at the $301 million market in U.S.-Canada ticket sales, at an estimated $300.9 million as of Jan. 20, according to THE BOX OFFICE MOJO WEB SITE.

The 007 movie had an estimated $1.05 million for the Jan. 18-20 weekend, its 11th weekend in the U.S. Skyfall was shown on 507 U.S.-Canada screens, according to the Web site that tracks movie ticket sales. That’s down from 3,505 during its debut in the Nov. 9-11 weekend. Skyfall passed the $300 million mark on Jan. 18, according to Box Office Mojo data.

Skyfall’s latest estimate for worldwide ticket sales is $1.034 billion as of 3 p.m., Jan. 20, according to Box Office Mojo. That may not yet reflect ticket sales in China, where Skyfall premiered last week. You can CLICK HERE to view a story at the MI6 fan Web site describing the China premier. You can CLICK HERE to view an MI6 story about some of the trims made by Chinese censors.

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