Sony on verge of Bond 23 deal with MGM, Deadline says

Sony Corp., whose Columbia Pictures unit released Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace, is on the verge of striking a deal with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer to release Bond 23, the Deadline entertainment Web site reported.

That story, WHICH YOU CAN READ BY CLICKING HERE, starts out thusly:

Deadline hears that Sony Pictures is close to landing distribution rights to MGM’s James Bond franchise again, and specifically for the next untitled Bond #23, even though several studios are still very much in the hunt.
(snip)

The new (MGM) brass, Spyglass Entertainment co-owners Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum who are now the Co-Chairmen and CEOs of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, are finishing negotiations to co-finance a number of films with Sony.

The story says such a move would please the heads of Eon Proudctions, Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson. That’s not surprising. Sony cut a check for $230 million for Quantum of Solace’s budget, the most expensive film in the Bond series. Whywouldn’t they be pleased? Maybe Bond 23 won’t face budget cutting after all, which might have occurred if other studios won the rights to distribute Bond 23. Here’s how Deadline puts it:

(Sony studio executive) Amy Pascal in particular has developed a strong personal and professional relationship with (Barbara) Broccoli when they were making the transition from Pierce Brosnan to Daniel Craig. Broccoli and Wilson found Craig among a list of possible 007s, and the choice wasn’t popular at first. But Pascal supported Craig. Also Sony has a reputation for spending big to market Bond: for Casino Royale, Sony spent a humongous sum worldwide to introduce the new Bond. MGM was supposed to distribute the 23rd Bond film itself, until the studio was pushed into bankruptcy.

Sony also isn’t a stickler for continuity in films such as Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. So that may also suit Eon just fine, as well.

MGM watch: Studio wants its Bond 23 parter to co-finance other films, Deadline says

Nikki Finke’s Deadline entertain Web site says Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, negotiating with various studios to distribute Bond 23, to also co-finance other films.

The story, which you can read BY CLICKING HERE, leads off with a report that actor Javier Bardem has been offered a Bond 23, but doesn’t offer many details. The rest of the report talks about how MGM is trying to use its Bond 23 talks for larger things. An excerpt:

Deadline has learned that MGM’s new leadership is trying to leverage the next Bond pic, and indeed the Bond franchise, to create more cash flow for the post-bankruptcy studio. The new brass, Spyglass Entertainment co-owners Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum who are now the Co-Chairmen/CEOs of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc, are in the middle of negotiating to make an overall deal for worldwide theatrical and home entertainment distribution of not just Bond but also MGM’s new product as well as its library of films. But what isn’t known is that, as part of that deal, MGM wants whichever studio is chosen to distribute Bond 23 to co-finance a number of films with MGM.

These set of negotiations have the potential to have a longer-term effect on the Bond franchise than any particular Bond 23 casting, even an Oscar winning actor such as Bardem.

MGM and Eon Productions each control half of Bond. But if Deadline’s reporting is accurate, 007 is being used as the equivalent of Boardwalk or Park Place in a real-life game of Monopoly, IF the Bond-related part of the deal goes beyond just distributing Bond 23. It all depends on how far MGM goes in trying to “leverage” the Bond franchise and not just Bond 23. The Deadline story doesn’t explain further.

The other Monpoly players don’t necessarily like MGM’s tactics, according to the report:

There’s no doubt this is a shrewd move by MGM, but Deadline has learned it’s not sitting well with the majors. Top execs at Sony and Fox and Paramount and Warner Bros who are all involved in the negotiations to distribute Bond “are growing increasingly frustrated with the way that the Spyglass duo are playing one studio off another — and enjoying it,” in the words of one exec involved.

Here’s why the Deadline story makes us uneasy. Harry Saltzman once owned half of Bond and tried to “leverage” it in other business dealings. In Saltzman’s case, he used his share of Bond as collateral for loans that eventually came due and United Artists bought him out, and MGM eventually acquired UA. MGM’s new management isn’t doing what Saltzman attempted. Still, the Deadline comment about how MGM wants to “leverage” the franchise makes us wary until we see how it turns out.