FT tries to analyze 007’s post-SPECTRE financial future

SPECTRE teaser poster

SPECTRE teaser poster

The Financial Times, IN A STORY POSTED TODAY, tries to analyze the post-SPECTRE financial future of the James Bond film franchise.

The U.K.-based financial publication was prompted by how Sony Pictures’ deal to release James Bond films ends with SPECTRE, the 24th 007 film due for release in November.

Here are some items of note from the FT:

Releasing 007 films is a nice, but not stupendous business, for a studio: The 007 franchise is owned by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Danjaq/Eon Productions (the Broccoli-Wilson family).

MGM, however, is too small after a 2010 bankruptcy and reorganization, to release Bond movies on its own. It needs a partner.

Sony was part of a group that owned MGM when Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace were released. Post-bankruptcy, Sony was MGM’s partner for releasing 2012’s Skyfall and this year’s SPECTRE.

An excerpt from the FT:

“While it’s a good piece of business the financial upside or downside is not significant on either end,” says a person close to the studio. “The studio can make good money but not runaway money.”

The FT story dovetails with a 2013 STORY IN THE NEW YORK TIMES that reported how Sony was third in line for profits from Skyfall, with the Broccoli-Wilson family and MGM taking their cut first.

Nevertheless, the FT said various studios — including Time Warner’s Warner Bros. and 21st Century’s 20th Century Fox — will still be interested in wrestling the Bond releasing deal from Sony.

Securing a new 007 releasing deal may be related to additional financial deals by MGM: The Financial Times says MGM may still sell stock to the public in an initial public offering or a simple sale to somebody else.

“The studio could arguably be worth more if a buyer knows a Bond distribution deal is still to be done,” according to the FT story by Matthew Garrahan. “Sony, Warner Bros, Fox and the rest of Hollywood will be watching closely.”

To read the entire Financial Times story, CLICK HERE. A shoutout to reader Paul Wynn who brought this to our attention on our Facebook page.

UPDATE: And the Carte Blanche reviews continue to roll in…

(UPDATED JUNE 5, 2011)

The much-anticipated new James Bond novel Carte Blanche, by American thriller writer Jeffery Deaver, sees print today in the UK and Europe. A terrific publicity campaign, lasting for almost the previous year, has pushed the publication of this book to the level of a media event — something James Bond fans can be excited about, regardless of their personal reaction to the story.

The reviews are coming in. As with any James Bond vehicle, critical views are hugely leavened by subjectivity, depending on the critic’s personal experience(s) with 007’s fictional exploits in their own lives.

  • Jeremy Jehu, in the May 26 Telegraph gives the novel a very nice four-star review.
  • That same day, the Guardian‘s Stephen Poole was’nt, um… quite as happy with it.
  • Mark Sanderson of the London Evening Standard said, on May 26, Carte Blanche Is Another Fine Mr. Bond Yarn, in a positively glowing review.
  • In the May 27 Independent, Boyd Tonkin has a thoughtful, knowledgeable, and quite positive review.
  • Jennifer Selway, in the May 27 Scottish Daily Express, said it’s a “slightly mischievous take on Ian Fleming” in her 5/5 review.
  • May 29’s Sunday Guardian‘s Stephanie Merritt said “fans will approve of Jeffery Deaver’s James Bond” in her glowing review, a much different opinion from her colleague above.
  • The Independent‘s Alexandra Heminsley concurred with her colleague on May 29, saying “It’s hard to imagine anyone not being impressed by this novel” in her review from last Sunday.
  • Peter Millar, writing in Sunday’s the Times, states “Carte Blanche is a worthy homage to the myth, but it is hard to see how much longer publishers can go on making silk purses from a franchise that is a bit of a sow’s ear” in his three-star review of May 29.
  • In the June 3 Financial Times, Ludovic Hunter-Tilney tells us the history of the post-Fleming James Bond, in a knowledgeable piece that fans would do well to take in. The article culminates in a rather unenthusiastic review of Carte Blanche: “[Deaver’s] Bond is truer to today’s culture of managerial efficiency, but he has also lost much in the translation. 007 fans might have to face an unpalatable truth: their man is a shadow of himself in the 21st century.” Read Relicensed to kill, and think for yourself.
  • The June 4 issue of Ireland’s Independent carries an anonymously-written review that sings Deaver’s praises but has reservations about Carte Blanche: “It’s pretty entertaining, but it’s not a great Bond novel — nor a great Deaver one.” You can read the whole review here.
  • The Sunday Express of June 5 carries its second review. This time, critic Angela McGee says: “…Carte Blanche is excellent fun, a great read and Jeffrey Deaver has breathed new life into an old favourite.” Read the rest of her enthusiastic review here.

Keep watching this space, as we’ll update it with further reviews as they come in. If you haven’t read it yet, check out The HMSS Interview with Carte Blanche author Jeffrey Deaver!

Author Jeffrey Deaver and James Bond's Bentley Continental GT

Bond 23 generates lots of reading material but few answers

Want to find out what’s going on with Bond 23? It seems like the more you read, the less you *actually* know. But recent articles cover enough ground, a reader can pretty much reinforce his or her own prejudices.

Are you inclined to believe Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Wilson are concerned, hands-on, smart operators trying to get Bond 23 to theaters as soon as possible despite financial troubles at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer? Well, THIS HOLLYWOOD REPORTER STORY VIA REUTERS is for you:

But Bond appears to be left out in the cold as MGM debtholders extended a deadline to get the studio’s financial house in order to September 15. Broccoli and Wilson declined comment but are said to be deeply concerned about the effect of an indefinite delay.

“They’re completely panicked that if they go five, six years without a Bond movie, it’ll be over,” a former MGM insider said. “They don’t want to kill the golden goose.”

That depiction, of course, is different than other accounts where, Wilson in particular, talks about how tired and exhausted he is from making James Bond movies.

On the other hand, if you’re really, really skeptical whether a new Bond movie can possibly come out soon, then READ THIS BLOG BY THE U.K. NEWSPAPER THE INDEPENDENT. Here’s a sample:

Today’s announcement that Daniel Craig is to star in a Hollywood film of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is great news for fans of Stieg Larsson. But it represents a rather less exciting development for those who prefer Craig’s other alter ego, James Bond.

(snip)
This suggests that the British star may very well not be expecting to be called up for Bond duty any time soon. So 007’s most recent outing, in 2008’s underwhelming Quantum of Solace, is likely to be his last for several more years to come.

Meanwhile, the Financial Times weighed in WITH A LONG STORY YOU CAN READ BY CLICKING HERE that explains how MGM hot into its current mess and the studio’s relationship with Bond. The FT frowns upon even the slightest excerpting on the Web, so we’ll just link to it. One criticism, though: the FT story confuses films released by the old United Artists studio (i.e. the first 11 Bond films, Annie Hall, In The Heat of the Night, The Apartment) with films actually produced and released by MGM before MGM acquired UA.

Bottom line: you may learn *some* things but Bond fans won’t likely find definitive answers to the questions they care most about.

MGM update: more wheeling and dealing

There were reports this week that Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc., which controls half the James Bond franchise, is examining alternatives to selling itself after initial bids came in lower than MGM creditors would have preferred.

An April 8 Bloomberg.com story by Ronald Grover and Andy Fixmer reported this:

April 8 (Bloomberg) — Ryan Kavanaugh’s Relativity Media LLC offered Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. $500 million to make movies as part of a management-led plan to keep the studio independent, two people with knowledge of the situation said.

Part of the motivation, according to the story, is this:

Kavanaugh, 35, is seeking MGM’s rights to the James Bond franchise, according to the people. He also wants the studio’s interest in “The Hobbit,” a future film based on the novel by “Lord of the Rings” author J.R.R. Tolkien that MGM shares with Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Brothers, they said.

Meanwhile, the Financial Times reported that brothers Tony and Ridley Scott had submitted their own MGM revamping plan. The FT is a pay site, so to read a short Bloomberg.com summary of the FT piece you can CLICK HERE. Meanwhile, the Commander Bond Web site did a cut-and-paste on the FT story (which probably wouldn’t make the FT happy if they saw it). You can view that by CLICKING HERE.

What to make of all this? We’ll see but it’s unlikely there will be any Bond 23 until it all sorts itself out.