Deadline scribes speculate about MGM, 007

logo for Deadline's pocast with Peter Bart and Mike Fleming Jr.

Logo for Deadline’s podcast with Peter Bart and Mike Fleming Jr.

Peter Bart and Mike Fleming, columnists for the Deadline: Hollywood entertainment news website, engage in some interesting speculation about Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Bond 25 in a new podcast.

The title is “Columns We Wished We Didn’t Write.”

In it, Bart recalls a June 9 column he wrote depicting MGM as enjoying a resurgence following its 2010 bankruptcy and ready to acquire other companies.

That was before MGM’s Ben Hur remake flopped in spectacular fashion in August.

“The question is, what does MGM want to be?” Fleming says. “Do they want to be a real studio with distribution?”

When MGM exited bankruptcy, it was a slimmed down company with no distribution operation. MGM cuts deals with other studios to co-finance and release films. Ben Hur, for example, was released by Paramount. Sony Pictures’s Columbia brand released Skyfall and SPECTRE but its contract expired with the latter.

“They do have the Bond franchise and that’s their big draw,” Fleming says. “Maybe MGM is an acquisition target for a studio that does have distribution.”

Bart, a former studio executive, speculates the other way, saying MGM could be in the market to acquire another studio. He specifically suggests Paramount, part of Viacom, would be a good a good fit. “Paramount could use a new corporate parent,” Bart says in the podcast.

Fleming also speculates about Bond 25, saying “I would imagine” Daniel Craig will return as 007 and “I would not be surprised” if the actor convinces Sam Mendes to return as director. Mendes helmed the last two Bond movies.

To be clear, there’s no hard information presented here. “We still don’t know where the James Bond film is going to end up,” Fleming says. In short, the podcast is similar to fan speculation found on 007 internet message boards.

Anyway, to listen, CLICK HERE. The portion about MGM and Bond 25 begins at about the 8:50 mark and runs to about the 13-minute mark.

UPDATE: Year of the Spy

Taken 3 poster

Taken 3 poster

Last December, we dubbed 2015 as the “Year of the Spy.” Here’s a quick update how things are going after five months.

Taken 3: Intended as the final of a trilogy with Liam Neeson as an ex-spy, Taken 3 got a lot of bad reviews. It had a $39.2 million opening weekend, according to BOX OFFICE MOJO. That was OK, but about $10 million less than Taken 2 in 2012.

As of June 1, Taken 3 had worldwide box office of $325.8 million, down from Taken 2’s $376.1 million. It particularly tailed off in the United States, with $89.3 million, compared with Taken 2’s $139.9 million. Perhaps it really “ends here,” as the movie’s advertising slogan said.

Kingsman: The Secret Service: Matthew Vaughn’s version of the Mark Millar-Dave Gibbons comic book generated worldwide box office of more than $400 million, including more than $275 million outside the United States. The movie had a reported $81 million budget.

THE WRAP ENTERTAINMENT NEWS WEBSITE reported in late April that was enough to start developing a sequel.

Spy: Not on our original preview list, the Melissa McCarthy comedy — where an analyst gets a chance to be an undercover agent — debuts Friday, June 5. As of June 1, PROBOXOFFICE.COM is projecting a $43 million opening weekend in the U.S.

Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation: Since December, the fifth Tom Cruise Mission: Impossible movie got a title and, more importantly, a new release date. Paramount moved up the M:I adventure to July 31 from Dec. 25.

If the tighter post-production schedule concerned anyone associated with the film, they’ve kept it to themselves. A teaser trailer has been out since March.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E.: Warner Bros. is beginning to ramp up publicity for Guy Ritchie’s much-different take on the 1964-68 television series. A teaser trailer debuted in February and a second trailer was at some U.S. theaters last weekend. Warners also had a big publicity event for the film in Rome last month. The movie comes out Aug. 14, just two weeks after Mission: Impossible.

SPECTRE teaser poster

SPECTRE teaser poster

SPECTRE: The 24th James Bond film still is filming, with principal photography to conclude later this month. There have been some bursts of publicity (in Rome and Mexico City during filming there).

The movie, with a budget exceeding $300 million, is on pace to be one of the most expensive of all time — costing about $50 million more than Avengers: Age of Ultron. If anybody’s actually worried about those figures (which became public because of hacking of documents at Sony Pictures last year), they’re keeping mum.

Despite the outlay, the parties involved will probably do OK, but the bigger budget could eat into profits. Then again, that’s a problem for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Sony, not movie goers, who’ll line up to see the movie in early November.