Our latest questions about Bond 25

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

We’re not very good at answers but we certainly can generate Bond 25 questions. So let’s get on with it.

What’s up with MGM?: The Deadline: Hollywood entertainment news site said in a May 26 story that there have been “no negotiations” between Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and other studios concerning which one would release Bond 25.

The last four 007 films have been released by Sony Pictures. Sony’s most recent two-picture deal expired with 2015’s SPECTRE. MGM, which emerged from bankruptcy in 2010, doesn’t have a distribution operation.

“There’s no rush,” MGM chief Gary Barber said during a March call with investors and analysts. “We’re evaluating all of our options. We will advise on the deal when we actually make it.”

If Deadline is accurate, Barber wasn’t kidding about not being in a rush.

For now, MGM seems to be trying to develop its non-007 portfolio and to prepare itself for an initial public offering of stock to the public within the next three to five years.

The now-expired Sony deal wasn’t a good one for that studio. Sony co-financed the last two Bond movies, but only got 25 percent of the profits. It remains to be seen whether MGM can get anywhere near such terms in the future.

What’s up with Daniel Craig? By this time, people who read this blog can recite forward and backwards lists of actors (male and female) who’ve been touted as potential 007 successors.

It’s stating the obvious, but Craig hasn’t said whether he’s staying or going. Until he specifies or a successor actually is announced, Craig remains a big unknown.

When will Bond 25 come out? It’s too early to push the panic button but it’s now a real possibility it won’t be released until 2019.

The Deadline story said negotiations between MGM and other studios aren’t likely to occur “until later this year.”

You can’t release a movie until there’s somebody to release it. Whoever eventually strikes a deal with MGM will want a say in the making of Bond 25. If you provided half of the financing, wouldn’t you?

Let’s say a deal is reached in late 2016. How long would it take the partner studio to weigh in and get comfortable with MGM and Eon Productions? Even if Sony were picked again, that studio has new management, so there’d be a new cast of characters involved. Would this process take a few weeks in 2017? Or a few months?

Also, according to Deadline, “There is no workable script yet and the creative elements have yet to come into place.” For the moment, that would also mean securing the services of a leading man and a director.

To have a fall 2018 release, Bond 25 would need to get the creative elements nailed down by late 2017, or about 18 months from now. There’s a lot to be settled before the cameras are ready to roll on Agent 007’s next adventure.

Craig may have another non-007 project, Deadline says

Daniel Craig

Daniel Craig

Daniel Craig may join a heist movie directed by Steven Soderbergh amid signs there’s little progress on Bond 25, Deadline: Hollywood reported.

The website also reported that there “no negotiations” yet what studio will distribute Bond 25. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s most recent two-picture deal with Sony Pictures expired with 2015’s SPECTRE.

Craig and Katherine Heigl “are said to be finalizing deals to join Steven Soderbergh’s heist film Logan Lucky about brothers who plan a crime during a NASCAR race in Charlotte,” the entertainment news website said.

Logan Lucky “is scheduled for a fall start date, which puts further into question the actor’s willingness to return to the Bond franchise for MGM,” wrote Deadline’s Anita Busch. Deadline said pre-production will begin this weekend during the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR race and the Daytona Beach, Florida-based racing series “has thrown its support behind the picture.”

Soderbergh once was attached to direct a movie version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. He quit the project in late 2011 and for a time declared himself retired from directing.

If Craig joins Logan Lucky, it adds to his growing list of non-007 projects. He’s scheduled to appear in an off-Broadway production of Othello this fall and is involved with Purity, a television limited series.

Meanwhile, Deadline said not much is happening on the Bond 25 front. Here’s an excerpt:

There have been no negotiations on where the Bond movie will land (Sony or Warner Bros. are out front on this) and although it was thought that negotiations might start after the first quarter 2016, parties are not likely to engage in negotiations until later this year. There is no workable script yet and the creative elements have yet to come into place. It has also been widely reported (and confirmed by Deadline) that Jamie Bell has discussed the Bond role with his Film Stars Don’t Die movie producer Barbara Broccoli (who has long produced the Bond movies).

The possibility of the 5-foot-7 Bell, 30, being a potential future 007 has been reported in a variety of outlets, including The Independent. He played the Thing in the 2015 version of The Fantastic Four.

MGM expects to be public company in 3-5 years

MGM logo

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer expects to be a publicly traded company within five years, Chief Executive Officer Gary Barber said during a May 12 investors presentation.

“We envision in the next three to five years, within that period, to be a public structure so that we can unlock the value of this great company,” Barber said.

Barber was asked why wait for as long as five years.

MGM chief Gary Barber

MGM chief Gary Barber

“We’re really in the early stages of our growth,” the CEO said. “We still have to go and achieve some of the growth areas…before we take ourselves into a public structure.”

Barber became CEO when MGM emerged from a 2010 bankruptcy. MGM came out of bankruptcy a smaller studio and it currently doesn’t have the resources to release its own films.

As a result, MGM strikes deals with other studios to release MGM films, such as the now-concluded two picture deal where Sony Pictures co-financed and released Skyfall and SPECTRE. MGM has yet to reach an accord with either Sony or other studios to release Bond 25.

MGM controls half the 007 franchise, along with Danjaq LLC, parent company of Eon Productions.

A 4:58 excerpt of the presentation was uploaded to MGM’s investors relations page.

Remembering Cubby Broccoli’s racehorse

Brocco (foaled 1991)

Brocco (foaled 1991)

Saturday was the 142nd running of the Kentucky Derby, which got us to thinking about the time James Bond producer Albert R. Broccoli had a horse in the race.

That horse was Brocco, foaled in 1991. The stallion raced in the 1994 Derby, finishing fourth, or just out of the money.

Previously, Brocco had won the 1993 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and 1994 Santa Anita Derby. His parents were Kris S. and Anytime Ms.

At the time, the co-founder of Eon Productions had more visibility in his horse racing endeavors. No Bond film had come out since 1989’s Licence to Kill.

Broccoli had been in a legal fight with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which in turn was mired in financial problems. The two sides eventually reached a settlement. However, a new 007 film was still some time from becoming reality when Brocco competed in the 1994 Derby.

Later than year, Eon Productions secured the services of actor Pierce Brosnan, Cubby Broccoli’s final Bond actor choice, as the new 007. Pre-production geared up on GoldenEye, which came out in the fall of 1995.

Like most racehorses, Brocco retired from racing to be a stud horse.

UPDATE: Here’s a video of the 1994 Santa Anita Derby, won by Brocco. After the win, ABC broadcaster Jim McKay notes that Albert R. Broccoli had just celebrated his 85th birthday.

Annette Bening to star in a non-007 film for Broccoli

Annette Bening

Annette Bening

Annette Bening will star in a non-007 movie for producer Barbara Broccoli, Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool, VARIETY REPORTED.

Here’s an excerpt:

Shooting will begin in the U.K. on June 27 with Paul McGuigan (“Sherlock”) directing. The production will take place at Pinewood Studios and on location in London and Liverpool.

The story is based on the memoir by British actor Peter Turner and follows the playful but passionate relationship between Turner and the eccentric Academy Award-winning actress Gloria Grahame. What starts as a vibrant affair between a legendary femme fatale and her young lover grows into a deeper relationship.

Broccoli, of late, has been accelerating her non-James Bond projects. In February, it was announced Eon Productions formed a “creative alliance” with Cove Pictures to develop television projects.

Meanwhile, Bond 25 can’t really proceed until there’s a studio to release it. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which emerged from bankruptcy in 2010, doesn’t have the resources to release a movie. Sony Pictures has released the last four 007 films but its contract expired with SPECTRE.

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 year. 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.

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