007: With media consolidation, just a piece on the board

“Sorry, Kronsteen. Disney just bought you out.”

In less than a week, there have been two developments that reinforced how James Bond — despite his cinema history — is just a piece of the chessboard.

On Halloween, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Annapurna Pictures announced a joint venture to release movies in the U.S.

MGM is 007’s home studio and controls half of the franchise. But Bond 25 wasn’t part of the deal. Still, it was a reminder how Bond fans don’t really know what’s going on behind the scenes.

MGM hasn’t had a distribution operation since exiting bankruptcy in 2010. The Annapurna deal is a first step toward being a “big boy” studio again. Still, it’s not clear how this affects the Bond franchise just yet.

On Monday, CNBC reported that Walt Disney Co. had engaged in discussions with Rupert Mucdock’s 21st Century Fox to buy most of the 20th Century Fox movie and TV operations.

That has the potential to affect Bond because Fox has a contract for home video distribution of 007 films. It has even more potential to affect Marvel Studios. Disney owns Marvel but Fox licenses key properties such as the X-Men and the Fantastic Four.

For now, according to CNBC, the “two sides are not currently talking at this very moment.” But, until Monday, nobody had an inkling this was even a possibility. 

Back in February, this blog suggested MGM needed to get bigger or get out. The blog took some flak from on social media for daring to suggest MGM wasn’t as strong as other studios. Nine months later, this blog may have been proven right and then some.

It was once observed (by Shady Tree) that Willard Whyte liked “to play Monopoly with real buildings.” In 2017, it’s not just real buildings that are stake. The fate of major movie franchises is also in the pot.

How is it going to turn out? Your guess is as good as the blog’s. But next time you see someone on social media saying they know what’s going to happen, don’t believe them.

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Disney may buy most of Fox? Hoo boy!

Walt Disney Co. logo

Walt Disney Co. has had talks to buy most of 21st Century Fox, including the 20th Century Fox movie studio, CNBC reported, citing people it didn’t identify.

Here’s an excerpt:

21st Century Fox has been holding talks to sell most of the company to Walt Disney Co., leaving behind a media company tightly focused on news and sports, according to people familiar with the situation.

The talks have taken place over the last few weeks and there is no certainty they will lead to a deal. The two sides are not currently talking at this very moment, but given the on again, off again nature of the talks, they could be revisited.

According to the CNBC story, 21st Century Fox leader Rupert Murdoch would hold onto news and sports networks and sell off entertainment businesses.

While the situation is in flux, here are some potential effects:

–20th Century Fox currently has the contract to handle home video releases of James Bond movies.

–20th Century Fox has been among the studios sniffing around for a deal to distribute Bond 25.

–The Fox movie studio controls the rights to some Marvel characters, including the X-Men. Disney owns Marvel but Fox’s control of such key characters is a notable gap for Disney/Marvel.

Questions:

Would a Fox acquisition by Disney affect not only the Bond 25 distribution issue, but also home video? And, if a deal took place, would Disney get into the Bond 25 distribution hunt?

Would a Disney acquisition of most of Fox finally bring Disney full control of all (or almost all) Marvel characters in the movies?

Stayed tuned, as the saying goes.

One troubling aspect about that WSJ Aston video

Daniel Craig and Aston Martin DB5 in a Skyfall publicity sill

The Wall Street Journal over the weekend posted a video with Andrew Palmer, the head of Aston Martin. It had the headline, “Could James Bond’s Next Car Be an Aston Martin SUV?”

On social media, that got a rise from 007 fans, who found the idea of Bond driving an SUV awful. Also, truth be told, the interview really didn’t explore the idea of Bond behind the wheel of an SUV.

But there was an exchange that fans might find troubling for an entirely different reason. It begins around the 0:55 mark. Naturally the video also includes clips from 1964’s Goldfinger.

LEE HAWKINS (WSJ INTERVIEWER): In America, when we think of Aston Martin, a lot of us think of James Bond. But does that put you into a box to some extent, putting into the consumers mind that an Aston Martin is really designed and intended to serve an older person?

PALMER: It’s a greater customer. Of course, when you come in life to the ability to afford an Aston Martin, then generally you’re a little older. We do have to think about about a more youthful market.  (emphasis added).

It’s not a secret that Bond fandom skews older that other movie franchises. The exchange in the Journal video simply reflects that.

Also, Eon Productions keeps bringing back the 1964 Aston Martin DB5. Newer Astons do get screen time. However, the DB5 has been in five of eight Bond films since 1995. SPECTRE, the most recent Eon offering, had Bond (Daniel Craig) driving off in the DB5 at the end of the movie.

Also, this isn’t the first time Palmer has talked about making Aston known for more than 007.

“James is an important customer for our sports cars but he occasionally gets married so maybe there’s someone out there for him although you can get a baby seat in the back of an (Aston Martin) DB11,” Palmer told CNBC in April 2016.

“But it’s about reality and Aston is more than just James Bond,” Palmer added. “It’s about being British, being independent, it’s about craftsmanship and it’s about business itself.”

To see the full Wall Street Journal video, CLICK HERE.