FWIW, observations about Bond 25

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Last week, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer talked a bit about the future of the James Bond film franchise. The studio didn’t say a lot but it was the most actual news since SPECTRE began its theatrical run last year.

So, here are some conservative observations about Bond 25 and what’s coming next.

It’s taking longer to reach a new 007 distribution deal that people initially thought:  Sony’s most recent 007 distribution contract ended with SPECTRE.

Some, including Michael G. Wilson, co-boss of Eon Productions, which actually makes the 007 films, expected a new deal to be reached by January or February. No deal is in place and MGM CEO Gary Barber told investors last week there’s “no rush.”

Barber also said MGM has talked to many studios about a deal and he’s confident MGM will reach a good deal. But it also *suggests* other studios want better terms than the last Sony deal — 50-50 financing but Sony having to accept only 25 percent of the profits. For the first billion-dollar Bond — Skyfall — Sony only got $57 million in profits while MGM made $175 million.

More than ever, the MGM-Eon partnership is an uneasy one: When MGM was in bankruptcy in 2010, it said it planned to put Bond films on an every-other-year schedule. Barber’s remarks last week — Bond films will come out every three to four years — marked a formal surrender from that.

Eon bosses Wilson and Barbara Broccoli aren’t interested in making Bond films every other years. They have other irons in the fire, including plays and television projects. One suspects MGM would like Bond films more frequently than less frequently. But MGM relies on Eon to make Bond films and there’s only so much it can do. During’s last week investor call, Barber played up MGM’s other projects.

Also, the Eon side has lived through a lot of different MGM executive regimes ever since MGM bough United Artists in 1981. You could make the case that Wilson and Broccoli have no reason to be any closer to Barber than his various predecessors.

Take the over in over/under bets about when Bond 25 comes out: If this blog had to bet, it’d still bet on 2018 for a Bond 25 release date. But if the talks for another distribution deal drag out a few more months, a 2019 release date suddenly looks more reasonable.

As a general rule, there seem to be more reasons for a later release date than an earlier date. In 2012, Sony executives said they expected a 2014 release date for Bond 24. Barbara Broccoli and Daniel Craig slapped down the idea in a joint interview, saying a Sony executive was getting ahead of himself. Sure enough, Bond 24, later called SPECTRE, came out in 2015.

Bond movies to come out on a 3-4 year cycle, MGM says

MGM logo

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer said this week that James Bond movies will come out on a “three-to-four year cycle” and it’s not hurrying to strike a new 007 distribution deal.

The disclosures were made by MGM chief Gary Barber during the question-and-answer portion of the company’s fourth-quarter and year-end earnings conference call.

Six years ago, when the studio was in bankruptcy, it produced a plan calling for Bond films to again come out on an every-other-year basis. After Skyfall came out, Barber began backpedaling during a November 2012 investor call. This week, he made clear an every-other-year 007 schedule is never going to happen.

The 007 films have “been on a cycle of every three to hour years and I anticipate it will be on that same three-to-four year cycle,” Barber said.

The executive provided no timetable for Bond 25, except to say it is “under discussions with our partners at Danjaq.” Danjaq LLC is the parent company of Eon Productions.

The CEO of MGM later cited the three-to-four year cycle as a reason why the studio isn’t hurrying to strike a new Bond 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.”

Sony Pictures has released the last four Bond films. After MGM came out of a bankruptcy, Sony struck, in hindsight, a bad deal to distribute what turned out to be Skyfall and SPECTRE.

Under that accord, Sony co-financed the two 007 films while getting only 25 percent of the profits. Sony got $57 million for Skyfall while MGM took home $175 million, according to documents that became public because of the Sony computer hacks.

Sony got even less for SPECTRE, because that movie had a higher budget and lower box office. Danjaq got more than Sony because it’s paid a percentage of the grosses of the movies.

None of this was mentioned during the conference call. Barber said this week that “every single studio” is interested in being MGM’s 007 partner.

Deadline estimates SPECTRE’s profitability

SPECTRE poster

SPECTRE poster

Deadline: Hollywood, the entertainment news website, estimates that SPECTRE generated a profit of $98 million for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Sony Pictures to split 75-25.

“Sony and MGM split the production-cost funding 50/50 and then MGM takes 75% of the profit and Sony 25%, with the latter not getting a distribution fee on top of that, which is an amazing deal for MGM,” according to Deadline.

The estimates take in home video, pay television and other sources of revenue beyond theater ticket sales.

Based on the Deadline figures, MGM would get a profit of about $73.5 million and Sony about $24.5 million.

That’s less than the studios got for 2012’s Skyfall, which had a larger box office and lower budget. MGM got a profit of $175 million while Sony got $57 million, The Wall Street Journal reported last year, citing internal documents released in the hacking at Sony.

Sony’s deal to release Bond movies for MGM ends with SPECTRE and it remains to be seen whether Sony wins a new contract or another studio signs on.

THE DEADLINE: HOLLYWOOD STORY by Mike Fleming Jr., also estimates that Danjaq LLC, parent company of Eon Productions, got $50 million and the Ian Fleming estate $10 million because of payments received from “first-dollar gross positions.” Or put another way, Danjaq and the Fleming estate get their cut off the top as the money begins to roll in.

The SPECTRE estimates were part of the website’s “Most Valuable Blockbuster tournament, using data culled by seasoned and trusted sources.”

Deadline also said 007 actor Daniel “Craig’s deal is not very rich – $7M upfront plus about $4M on the back end.” If so, that runs counter to other reports.

The International Business Times said last year Craig stood to make $39 million from SPECTRE.

To read the entire Deadline story, CLICK HERE.

Below, is an embedded copy of the chart that runs with the Deadline story. You can click on it to see a bigger image.

UPDATE: In a SEPARATE STORY, Deadline: Hollywood estimates that Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation was more profitable for Paramount ($109.8 million) than SPECTRE was for MGM and Sony.

Bond 25: What’s being talked about, what isn’t

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

In sports, there’s the season and the “off-season,” where some players retire, others change teams, etc. For fans of the James Bond films, this “off-season” is a little off kilter.

What’s mostly being talked about is who the next 007 is going to be — even though the incumbent (Daniel Craig) hasn’t actually said if he’s done with the role or not.

Last week, Tom Hiddleston was the center of attention after the actor said he’d like the role if he got the chance. This week, Irish actor Aidan Turner is in the spotlight after THE SUN RAN A STORY that Turner “has jetted to LA where he is holding talks about becoming the next James Bond.”

The story is a bit lacking in detail. Evidently, he’s far from a sure thing because Turner “will have fierce competition from Brit stars including Tom Hiddleston, Idris Elba and Tom Hardy.”

There’s also a quote from an unidentified source: “Aidan has held preliminary talks with Bond producers and being in LA will give him a further chance to discuss the role.” The preliminary talks reference is interesting but it sounds like the source doesn’t know whether or not Turner will actually have talks with Bond people in LA or not. He just has “a further chance” to talk about it. Regardless, other media outlets picked up on the Sun’s story.

Meanwhile, something people aren’t talking much about is what studio will actually release Bond 25 whenever it does come out.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which controls half the Bond franchise, is too small to release movies. The contract of Sony Pictures, which has released the last four Bond films, expires once SPECTRE is out of theaters (it’s still on 16 U.S. screens this week). It was thought a new deal — with either Sony or somebody else — would be struck early in 2016.

It is still early, but the year’s first quarter is nearing an end.

Sony’s most recent two-picture deal was a bad one for the studio — it financed half of Skyfall and SPECTRE, but only got a quarter of the profits. The Sony executive who struck that deal, Amy Pascal, is gone. Other studios are interested but would they agree to the kind of terms Sony provided?

Hard to say, but for now it’s not a subject getting that much attention.

SPECTRE: What’s the difference between $200M, $199.8M?

Daniel Craig in SPECTRE's main titles

Daniel Craig in SPECTRE’s main titles

Answer: Not much in the big scheme of things.

It’s one thing for 007 fan message boards to discuss (even obsess) over the subject of SPECTRE’s box office in the U.S. and Canada. But when a major entertainment website like TheWrap (which we read regularly and usually enjoy) DOES SO, well it’s time to take a deep breath.

Here’s an excerpt from TheWrap’s Feb. 25 story:

The latest James Bond movie, “Spectre,” should cross $200 million in domestic box-office on Thursday.

It’s taken the suave spy nearly four months to get there, and Sony raised the theater count from 47 to 340 last weekend to make sure it did.

Except, it didn’t.

Through Friday, Feb. 26 (when the screen count dipped to 92 from the aforementioned 340), the 24th James Bond film had a cumulative U.S.-Canada box office of $199,829,527, according to the Box Office Mojo website. The movie’s global box office has topped out at around $879.5 million.

SPECTRE generated $5,000 in ticket sales in the U.S. and Canada on Friday. At that rate, it will be only a little more than a month before SPECTRE crosses the $200 million mark for the region — while the movie is also available on home video.

TheWrap story did, however, address an issue that has more long-term importance — when will Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer select a studio partner to release Bond 25?

The contract of Sony Pictures, which has release 007 movies since 2006, expires with SPECTRE. MGM has to decide whether to re-up with Sony or select a new partner. MGM, after a 2010 bankruptcy, doesn’t have a distribution arm.

The Wrap, though, didn’t add much new. MGM either has received “or will soon… a pitch from every Hollywood studio, including Sony Pictures, the current rights-holder,” The Wrap said.

Essentially, not much about Bond 25 can happen until MGM makes its choice. You can’t release a movie if there’s nobody to release it.

UPDATE: The estimated U.S.-Canadian box office for SPECTRE for the Feb. 26-28 weekend is $16,000, according to BOX OFFICE MOJO.  That place it at No. 45, with a cumulative box office in the region of $199,840,527.

SPECTRE has U.S.-Canada weekend box office of $105K

SPECTRE poster

SPECTRE poster

SPECTRE generated an estimated $105,000 at the U.S.-Canada box office for the Feb. 19-21 weekend, according to BOX OFFICE MOJO after AMC Theaters ran a “buy one, get one free” ticket special for the 24th James Bond film.

The movie’s cumulative U.S.-Canada box office is at an estimated $199,774,852. SPECTRE debuted in the United States in early November and has been available on Blu Ray and DVD since earlier this month.

AMC’s SPECTRE special began Feb. 19 and runs through Feb 25. The promotion raised SPECTRE’s theater count in the region this weekend to 340, up from 47 last weekend.

The promotion also raised SPECTRE to No. 31 in the U.S. and Canada this weekend, up from No. 50 in the Feb. 12-14 weekend.

The promotion may also be the one of final 007 film moves by Sony Pictures, which has released the past four Bond films. Sony’s contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer expires with SPECTRE. MGM has yet to select a studio partner to release Bond 25.

Caveat Emptor: U.K. tabloid weighs in on Craig AGAIN

Daniel Craig in SPECTRE's main titles

Daniel Craig in SPECTRE’s main titles

Once more, with feeling.

The U.K. tabloid, The Sun, HAS A STORY saying that Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer is willing to push back Bond 25 to 2018 to keep Daniel Craig as James Bond.

It was The Sun that less than a week ago asserted that Craig was quitting the 007 role. As originally phrased, The Sun said:  “DANIEL Craig is quitting as James Bond after signing up for a US TV series. He will star in Purity, which is set to run for several series of 20 episodes each.”

THAT STORY was later softened to say, “DANIEL Craig has signed up for a US TV series, throwing his future as James Bond into doubt. He will star in Purity, which is set to run for several series of 20 episodes each.” However, you can tell the story’s original emphasis by its URL that ends with Daniel-Craig-quits-James-Bond-007-role-for-US-telly-series.html.

In this newest story, The Sun has this passage:

Bond franchise bosses are so desperate to keep him in the famous tuxedo that they are willing to delay the next movie so he can film the show first.

MGM Studios, which produces the Bond flicks, told Daniel it will push back the next movie to 2018 if necessary.

A source said: “Daniel leaving the franchise at this moment is something MGM cannot stomach. (emphasis added)

Why the Caveat Emptor label should apply.

–The Sun said Craig’s possible participation in the television project is “throwing his future as James Bond into doubt.” No, The Sun’s original story saying he was definitely quitting is what attracted the attention. Other U.K. tabloids did stories, citing The Sun’s original version of its first story.

–Things were already looking doubtful for Bond 25 coming out in 2017. Craig is committed to an off-Broadway production of Othello this year.

The exact dates haven’t been announced. But with both Skyfall and SPECTRE, principal photography began late in the years before their release dates (November 2011 for Skyfall, December 2014 for SPECTRE).

Also, Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, the co-bosses of Eon Productions, previously have not sounded enthusiastic about bringing out 007 on an every-other-year schedule.

–As stated before, nothing much can happen on Bond 25 until MGM selects a studio partner for Bond 25. The contract of Sony, which has released the past four 007 films, expires with SPECTRE.

MGM, slimmed down after a 2010 bankruptcy, doesn’t have the capability of releasing movies on its own. MGM has to either re-up with Sony or find a replacement. Bond 25 can’t get a release date until there’s somebody to actually release the movie.

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