MGM Says Bond 25 ‘on schedule’

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Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s chief operating officer this week said Bond 25 is “progressing on schedule.”

Christopher Brearton made the comment during prepared remarks on an Aug. 6 investor call after MGM released second-quarter financial results.

Brearton has been the top ranking MGM executive since Gary Barber was deposed as chief executive officer in 2018.

The call was one day before The Hollywood Reporter and Deadline: Hollywood reported that Annapurna Pictures was considering filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

MGM and Annapurna are partners in United Artists Releasing, which distributes MGM and Annapurna films in the U.S. UAR is slated to handled Bond 25 distribution in the United States next year. Universal will handle international distribution of the Bond film.

An Annapurna bankruptcy may or may not affect Bond 25.

There wasn’t much else in either the earnings report or investor call related to Bond 25.

MGM said it boosted “net cash investment in content” during 2019’s first half “which included the initial production costs for Bond 25 and investments in our premium scripted series, The Handmaid’s Tale (season 3), Perpetual Grace, LTD (season 1) and Four Weddings and a Funeral (season 1), plus” more programming for its Epix premium channel.

MGM executive affirms Bond 25 is Craig’s final 007 outing

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A Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer executive last month affirmed that Bond 25 will be Daniel Craig’s finale as James Bond.

“Daniel Craig, of course, will star in his final turn as 007 under the direction of Cary Fukunaga,,” Christopher Brearton, chief operating officer of the studio, said in prepared remarks for shareholders. The conference call took place in early May when MGM reported first-quarter financial results.

That’s not an especially remarkable statement. In August 2017, Craig announced on Late Night With Stephen Colbert he was returning for Bond 25. The host asked him if he might do more Bonds.

“I think this is it,” Craig said. “I want to go out on a high note.”

Of course, there have been occasional tabloid stories suggesting otherwise. The Sun, in a January 2019 story, and The Express in an April 2019 article each said Eon Productions boss Barbara Broccoli hasn’t given up on the idea of getting Craig back for Bond 26.

Meanwhile, Brearton didn’t have much else to say about Bond 25 on the May call.

“In film, we announced the kickoff of production of the 25th instalment of the Bond franchise, unveiling the storyline and a terrific cast, including Rami Malek, fresh off his Academy Award-winning turn as Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody as a mysterious new villain,” the executive said.

“We are very excited to be getting production underway and you will be hearing more from us in the coming months.”

MGM executive says 2020 will be ‘a Bond year’

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Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s chief operating officer said 2020 will be “a Bond year” with the release of Bond 25.

“As for 2020, we could not be more excited about the film slate,” Christopher Brearton said on an investor call. “It’s a Bond year.” The movie’s April 8, 2020 U.S. release date, he said, means it “will be out in time” for Easter and spring break.

Bond 25 has been delayed twice. It originally had U.S. release dates of November 2019 and February 2020. The exit of Danny Boyle as director caused the postponement until February 2020. The second move came as the film’s script was rewritten for four weeks by script doctor Scott Z. Burns.

Brearton, in prepared remarks, didn’t get into that background.

“We will soon commence production on Bond 25, directed by Cary Fukunaga of True Detective fame,” he said. “And as we recently announced we have secured a strong pre-Easter 2020 date for the film.”

Bond 25 is being released in the U.S. by United Artists Releasing, MGM’s joint venture with Annapurna Pictures. Universal is handling international distribution.

The executive also said MGM’s 2019 financial results will be affected by investments in its film and TV units as well as Bond 25 being pushed back into 2020.

Brearton emerged as a first among equals in the MGM executive suite after CEO Gary Barber departed the company in March 2018. No CEO has been named since.

The chief operating officer also talked about MGM’s strategy more broadly. He said the studio plans to release four-to-six movies under the MGM brand and additional, smaller budget films under its Orion brand. Brearton said a third Creed movie, a continuation of the Rocky saga, is in development.

MGM also has done a deal with Joe and Anthony Russo where the brothers will supervise remakes of movies in the company’s film library. The Russos have co-directed four Marvel Studios movies, including the upcoming Avengers: Endgame.

MGM briefly mentions Bond 25 on investor call

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Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, during an investor call this week, briefly referenced Bond 25, mostly about the hiring of Cary Fukunaga as director.

“We wouldn’t be more excited about the creative direction of our next installment of our treasured evergreen franchise, Bond 25,” Christopher Brearton, MGM’s chief operating officer, said in prepared remarks. MGM is “thrilled to add Cary’s versatility and innovation to the next James Bond adventure.”

Fukunaga’s hiring was announced in September. He got the job after Danny Boyle departed in August in the midst of Bond 25 pre-production. Fukunaga has directed both streaming television series and feature films. Brearton also referenced Bond 25’s release date being delayed to February 2020.

Other MGM subjects weren’t discussed. The company has been run by a committee of executives since Gary Barber was fired as CEO in March. There were no comments whether he’ll be replaced or not.

Also, MGM’s partner in a U.S. film distribution joint venture, Annapurna Pictures, has been hit with financial troubles. But Annapurna’s name didn’t come up. The joint venture is scheduled to release Bond 25 in the U.S. while Universal will distribute the film internationally.

There were no questions from investors on the call.

h/t @CorneelVf on Twitter for the heads up.

Bond 25: What’s up with MGM?

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With all the fuss about Bond 25 since Danny Boyle departed as director, one aspect hasn’t gotten much attention.

What’s up with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the home studio of the 007 film franchise?

It was Eon Productions’ 007 social media outlets that announced Boyle’s departure. Nothing new on that front since Eon’s Aug. 21 announcement.

MGM controls half of the Bond franchise along with Eon and its parent company, Danjaq.

MGM reported second-quarter financial results back on Aug. 7, back when Boyle still was slated to direct Bond 25.

The studio had a conference call with investors on Aug. 7. At that point, Christopher Brearton, who has the title chief operating officer, said everything was great 007-wise.

“The big film news of the quarter was our announcement that we were partnering with Universal Pictures for the international distribution of Bond 25. We are very excited about this deal. Universal’s exceptional international distribution and marketing organization make this an important new partnership for MGM.”

MGM, through a joint venture with Annapurna Pictures, is slated to handled U.S. distribution of Bond 25. Brearton said MGM is positioned to retain more value from Bond film box office.

“We couldn’t be more excited about the film,” Brearton said of Bond 25.

That was then. This is….well, we don’t know. MGM has said nothing about Bond 25 since Boyle’s departure. Eon? It has said nothing other than Boyle is out because of “creative differences.”

MGM, it should be remembered, still hasn’t named a new CEO since Gary Barber departed in March.

The studio has a successful TV operation. Its movie operation? Well, it’s latest film, Operation Finale (released by the MGM-Annapurna joint venture) came in at No. 4 for the Aug. 31-Sept. 2 weekend with an estimated $6 million, according to Box Office Mojo. No. 1 was Crazy Rich Asians, with an estimated $22.2 million in its third weekend of release. (MGM rolled out Operation Finale on Aug. 29.)

You’ve got to wonder what the MGM brain trust thinks about the uncertainty surrounding Bond 25, especially because it (and presumably Universal) are paying the bills.

Is the studio pressing for a quick Boyle replacement to ensure Bond 25 meets its previously announced fall 2019 release date? Is there really anything it can do about it? Or can it only sit by and watch to see how Eon resolves the situation?

On the other hand, there are a few known aspects. MGM remains one of the weakest Hollywood studios in an era where a 20th Century Fox, a much healthier operation, can get swallowed up (by Walt Disney Co. in Fox’s case).

British tabloids have ignored the MGM angle of the Bond 25 saga. It may still be one worth watching.

MGM says little about Bond 25 or CEO’s departure

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Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer didn’t a lot to say today about either Bond 25 or the abrupt departure of CEO Gary Barber.

MGM has a strong film slate in 2018 and will have “the return of James Bond in 2019,” Chief Operating Officer Christopher Brearton said in introductory remarks during an investor call Wednesday. The company earlier reported fourth-quarter and year-end 2017 earnings.

Chief Financial Officer Kenneth Kay said almost the the same thing as Brearton. He said MGM films in 2019 would be “headlined by the return of James Bond. We are working with out partners at Eon Productions on what we believe will be another highly successful installment of this evergreen franchise.”

Later, during a brief question and answer session, executives were asked about the progress of negotiations for a Bond 25 distributor.

“We don’t have any formal update on this right now,” Brearton said. “We will be updating you when we have further progress in that regard.”

For now, Bond 25 doesn’t have announced distributors. MGM last year formed a joint venture with Annapurna Pictures to distribute each other’s movies in the U.S. market. But Bond 25 wasn’t part of that deal. And even if the joint venture handles Bond 25 U.S. distribution, there’s the question of who will distribute the film in international markets.

MGM had even less to say about Barber’s exit. “We will not be addressing questions about Gary’s departure,” Brearton said.

With Barber gone, MGM is being supervised by an “office of the CEO” that reports to the board of directors. Brearton talked up how remaining executives “are all energized and focused.”

Brearton, an entertainment lawyer, joined MGM last month. Barber became the top MGM executive in 2010 and led the company out of bankruptcy. MGM in October extended his contract through 2022. The extension occurred just months before Barber was fired.