MGM says Bond 25 distribution not resolved

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer said today that distribution — and presumably financing — of Bond 25 has not been resolved.

“Distribution plans for Bond 25 still have not been announced and we are continuing discussions with a variety of potential partners,” MGM chief Gary Barber said on an investor call. “We look forward to sharing more details on Bond 25 on future calls.”

Deadline: Hollywood reported Sunday that a new joint venture between MGM and Annapurna Pictures was close to being named U.S. distributor for the next James Bond film. An international distributor has not yet been selected, Deadline said.

The last four 007 films have been distributed by Sony Pictures. Under Sony’s most recent two-picture deal, Sony co-financed Skyfall and SPECTRE with MGM but only got 25 percent of the profits.

MGM is getting back into distribution. It emerged from bankruptcy in 2010 without a distribution operation. MGM films were co-financed and distributed by various studios.

On the call, Barber talked up the joint venture with Annapurna.

“We decided the time was right to be less dependent on co-production partners to theatrically distribute our theatrical films,” Barber said.

The first MGM film to be distributed by the joint venture will be a remake of Death Wish early next year.

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Bond 25: The distribution edition

Annapurna logo

If Deadline: Hollywood is correct, the Bond 25 picture is about to get clearer but there are still key questions to be asked.

What Deadline reported: The new joint venture between Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Annapurna Pictures will release Bond 25 in the United States.

MGM and Annapurna announced the venture on Oct. 31. It will release movies for both companies. But when the venture was announced, Bond 25 wasn’t part of the deal.

So let’s go with the questions.

Who’s going to release Bond 25 internationally? Deadline didn’t know. It said studios including Warner Bros., Sony, 20th Century Fox and Universal are in the mix.

More importantly, who’s going to finance Bond 25? Sony has released the last four Bond films. Under Sony’s most recent two-picture deal (Skyfall and SPECTRE), the studio co-financed the movie with MGM but only got 25 percent of the profits.

Presuming we end up with MGM-Annapurna in the U.S. and someone with international distribution, Bond 25’s financing has the potential to be more complicated.

Will Annapurna do some of the financing? Or will its involvement be more limited? Will the international distributor also kick in some of the financing?

Or is MGM confident it will be the dominant financing entity?

Too early to answer any of that. The MGM-Annapurna distribution deal for Bond 25 in the U.S. hasn’t been announced yet.

Why does the blog ask these questions? Because until they’re settled, nobody is going to get paid to do the movieThe blog occasionally has its chain yanked (hopefully in a kidding way) about bringing up the subject. But it’s still legitimate. Eon Productions doesn’t finance Bond films and doesn’t release them.

MGM-Annapurna may distribute Bond 25 in U.S.

The recently announced joint venture between Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Annapurna Pictures may distribute Bond 25 in the United States, Deadline: Hollywood reported.

“This all should be finalized this week, and rumors are flying today,” according to the story by Mike Fleming Jr. and Anita Busch.

MGM and Annapurna announced the joint venture on Oct. 31. At the time, MGM and Annapurna said Bond 25 was not part of the deal.

Deadline said distribution outside the U.S. for Bond 25 hasn’t been decided.

“There are still major decisions to be made on both international distribution and ancillary distribution, the latter of which long had been administered by Fox in a deal that is expiring,” according to the story.

Deadline said Warner Bros. Sony, 20th Century Fox and Universal are still seeking  international distribution for Bond 25.

20th Century Fox currently handles home video releases of Bond films.

MGM controls half of the Bond franchise, with the other half under control of Danjaq, parent company of Eon Productions.

MGM hasn’t had its own distribution operation since exiting bankruptcy in 2010. Sony Pictures has distributed the past four Bond films. Other MGM projects have been released by other studios.

Sony “has been informed that domestic will not go their way” for Bond 25, Deadline said.

Annapurna is a movie production company that got into distribution this year with the drama Detroit.

Caveat Emptor: Tabloid claims to have reason Craig is back

Daniel Craig in 2012 during filming of Skyfall.

The blog read this so you don’t have to.

Rupert Murdoch’s Sun tabloid claimed on Saturday night to know why Daniel Craig is coming back for Bond 25 — because director Sam Mendes isn’t.

“The U-turn came shortly after Sam quit the franchise,” according to the tabloid.

“And now I can reveal creative differences threatened to ruin their friendship during filming of 2015 outing Spectre,” the story says. “My sources tell me that as tensions built up, the atmosphere on set got chilly. And they claim Daniel will be delighted that Sam is no longer in the director’s chair.”

The only official Bond 25 announcement was that the movie is being written by Neal Purvis and Robert Wade and will have a U.S. release date of November 2019. There’s been no word about cast, distributor or crew.

The New York Times reported last month that Craig is coming back for Bond 25. The Deadline: Hollywood website said last month there are three Bond 25 director finalists, none of them Mendes.

Some unimportant questions about Bond 25

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Following this week’s announcement of a 2019 release date for Bond 25 here are some unimportant questions about 007’s next film adventure.

Why make this announcement now? The announcement came the Monday after last weekend’s San Diego Comic Con. That event saw November’s Thor: Ragnarok film, this November’s Justice League movie and next year’s Avengers: Infinity War film grab a lot of publicity. Perhaps it’s a chance to remind audiences that James Bond is yet to be heard from?

Why announce a release date without a star, distributor or a director? We don’t really know. See answer (such as it is) to the previous question for a possible explanation.

What do you mean by that? The San Diego Comic Con has become a publicity launching pad for movies and television shows. 007 has been mostly a no-show at the San Diego Con. Although, to be fair, there were some 007-licensed dolls that were part of this year’s comic con festivities.

Why not announce more? Short answer: The principals aren’t ready to say more right now.

Of course, the short announcement on Monday wasn’t the last word.

The New York Times reported the same day that Daniel Craig’s return as Bond was a “done deal.” Deadline: Hollywood said there were three finalists to direct. And Variety said one of said finalists, Frenchman Yann Demange, is the front runner.

Could it be this is part of a marketing master plan by Eon Productions?

Well, if:

–Eon and Craig got together as SPECTRE wrapped production in July 2015 and knowing Craig was scheduled to do some interviews which would be embargoed until October, Eon publicists encouraged Craig to say he’d rather slash his wrists than play Bond again.

–When the interviews came out in October, the plan was this would create some uncertainty whether Craig would and create extra buzz as SPECTRE was being released.

–That Eon’s Michael G. Wilson, in an interview in November 2015, would say Craig wasn’t signed to a contract, to deliberately further stoke up the uncertainty and buzz.

–That Eon (or Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer) deliberately planted stories like a September 2016 one in Vanity Fair saying that MGM CEO Gary Barber contacted Craig “to express his frustration in no uncertain terms” with the actor because of the “slash my wrists” interviews.

So, if all that happened, then, yeah, events of the past two years may have been part of a well-oiled plan worthy of Ernst Stavro Blofeld.

Or maybe not.

Deadline says there are 3 finalists to direct Bond 25

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

The Deadline: Hollywood entertainment news website says there are three finalists to direct Bond 25.

The three are Frenchman Yann Demange, French Canadian Denis Villeneuve and Scot David Mackenzie, according to a story by Mike Fleming Jr.

“The three frontrunners have all had meetings, I am told,” Fleming wrote. Fleming didn’t specify who or how many people told him this or how well connected they are to the production.

Eon Productions, which produces the Bond movies, announced Monday that Bond 25 will be out Nov. 8, 2019.

But that short statement didn’t announce the cast, director or distributor. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 007’s home studio, doesn’t have a distribution operation and cuts deals with other studios to release its movies. Sony Pictures has released the last four Bond films.

Later on Monday, The New York Times reported it’s a “done deal” that Daniel Craig will return for his fifth outing as Bond.

“We’ve known for months that Daniel Craig was going to return and finish his run as 007 with the one film commitment he has left on his deal, so that is hardly a surprise,” Fleming wrote in his story today about the director finalists.

With the 2019 release date, Eon “will have to select a filmmaker quickly and I expect that to be completed by end of summer,” Fleming wrote.

The Villenuve-directed Blade Runner 2049 is scheduled to be released this fall.

UPDATE: A bit of background. Deadline, back when it was run by founder Nikki Finke scored some Bond scoops. Among them: A 2010 story saying Sam Mendes had been brought on as a consultant to what would become Skyfall with the intent he’d direct the film. Finke left the site some time ago in a dispute.

UPDATE II (4:25 p.m. New York time): Variety has come out with a story saying Demange is the frontrunner to direct Bond 25. Variety attributes that to “insiders.”

Variety also said “it is believed” that Warner Bros. will distribute Bond 25. Variety doesn’t specify who believes this and whether they actually know anything.

 

Our newest Bond 25 questions

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

There’s been a bit of Bond 25 news recently. Or has there?

Here are some questions intended to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Script? Neal Purvis and Robert Wade are working on a Bond 25 story, according to a report by the Daily Mail’s Baz Bamigboye last month. Eon Productions never confirmed it, but typically it hasn’t confirmed other 007 scoops Bamigboye had about Skyfall and SPECTRE.

How far along are Purvis and Wade? Maybe not very far.

The duo are in the midst of adapting the novel I Am Victor, according to an April 5 story in Deadline: Hollywood.

If Deadline is accurate, the writers “are understood to be finalizing the script before it goes out to cast.” That suggests Purvis and Wade are, at best, in early days of their Bond 25 work.

Meanwhile, there’s a possibility of a Writer’s Guild strike early next month, which would adversely affect movie and television production.

What about that New York Post gossip column? Page Six says Eon Productions boss Barbara Broccoli is close to getting Daniel Criag to coming back for Bond 25. But it doesn’t actually say it’s a done deal.

So? There’s still no Bond 25 director. There’s still no Bond 25 distributor. Sony Pictures, which distributed the last four 007 films, saw its most recent two-picture 007 deal with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer expire with SPECTRE.

What are you trying to say? The blog is trying to say there may be more chaff than wheat at this point.

–You have a star (Craig) who hasn’t publicly committed, despite plenty of opportunity to do so.

–You have a production company (Eon) that seems in no rush to produce the next Bond movie and is keeping busy on various non-007 projects.

–You have a studio (MGM) that seems busy with other matters.

The Wall Street Journal reported in February that MGM was trying to sell itself to a Chinese buyer but the deal fell apart. MGM never denied the story and at last month’s investor call, the subejct never came up.

Meanwhile, MGM agreed this week to spend $1 billion to give itself sole ownership of the Epix premium TV channel. If the Epix investment works out, that would help MGM’s finances every year. Bond movies, still one of MGM’s biggest assets, come out only so often.

MGM doesn’t have a studio partner to release Bond 25. Sony Pictures has released the last four Bonds, but Sony’s most recent two-picture deal expired with SPECTRE.

In March 2016, MGM CEO Gary Barber had this to say about seeking a new 007 distribution deal.

“There’s no rush,” Barber said. “We’re evaluating all of our options. We will advise on the deal when we actually make it.”

Obviously, he was right about the “no rush” part.