Sony writes down value of film unit by almost $1B

Sony Pictures logo

Sony Pictures logo

Sony Corp. wrote down the value of its film business by $962 million, The Hollywood Reporter said.

Essentially, Sony said its film business is worth far less than what it listed on its financial books. In accounting that’s known as a “goodwill impairment charge.”

The writedown stemmed from “a downward revision in the future profitability projection for the motion pictures business,” according to a Sony statement quoted by THR.

Sony also said its commitment to the film unit “remains unchanged.” The New York Post earlier this month said Sony “is listening to bank pitches about a potential sale of its film and TV operations.”

Sony has released the past four James Bond films. The company has said it would like to extend the relationship but it has no deal in place with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 007’s home studio.  Under its most recent two-picture deal, Sony co-financed Skyfall and SPECTRE but only got 25 percent of the profits.

At the moment, Bond 25 has no distributor, much less a release date.

NY Post says Sony considers selling film business

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Sony Corp. is “listening to bank pitches about a potential sale of its film and TV operations,” the New York Post reported Jan. 19, citing sources it didn’t identify.

That includes Sony Pictures, whose Columbia brand has released the past four James Bond films. Sony’s most recent two-picture contract to distribute 007 films for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer expired with SPECTRE.

On Sept. 13, Sony Corp. CEO Kazuo Hirai said in a statement that, “As we look ahead, we see our entertainment businesses as essential parts of Sony.”

The comment was part of an announcement that Michael Lynton, the head of Sony’s entertainment division is departing the company, effective Feb. 2. Hirai is setting up a second office in California “to oversee the management of the entertainment companies,” according to that announcement.

Tom Rothman, a Sony Pictures executive, told the Hollywood Reporter last year the studio is interested in continuing its Bond relationship.

Craig’s Othello play may get a separate Broadway run

Eon co-boss Barbara Broccoli and current 007 star Daniel Craig

Barbara Broccoli and Daniel Craig

The off-Broadway production of Othello, with Daniel Craig as Iago, may get a separate run on Broadway in spring 2017, the New York Post reported.

The play currently is at the New York Theatre Workshop, which it is scheduled to conclude on Jan. 18.

The Post is saying the play may come to broadway. Here’s an excerpt:

Meanwhile, Daniel Craig is eying a move to Broadway after winning raves for his Iago in the New York Theatre Workshop production of “Othello.”

Craig, sources say, initially shied away from talk about Broadway because the critics were lukewarm to him in 2013’s “Betrayal.” But he’s happy now — as is his co-star, the excellent David Oyelowo — and senses a shot at a Tony for Best Actor in a Play, if the show can get in under the Tony cut-off date, which is April 27, 2017.

Othello is produced by Eon Productions boss Barbara Broccoli. The Post’s Page Six gossip feature said last week that Othello is part of an effort by Broccoli to lure Craig back for Bond 25.

Craig’s schedule includes Kings, a movie about the 1990s LA riots, and Purity, a limited-run television series for the Showtime pay-cable channel.

As 007’s lost year ends, will Eon follow its own advice?

James Bond, feeling sad after examining his back story one more time.

James Bond, feeling sad after examining his back story one more time.

As 2016 draws to a close, the future of the film James Bond is a little up in the air.

It’s been a bit of a lost year. No progress toward a finding a studio to release Bond 25. No public announcement about a writer or director. No hint about a release date.

With that in mind, will Eon Productions follow its own advice about how to carry on a film franchise?

On July 31, 2012, Eon’s Michael G. Wilson gave an address about the subject. Among his recommendations:

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is a “formula for complacency”

 “It’s important to change things, to get ahead of the curve before things taper off,” Wilson said.

In the last week, tabloids in the U.S. and U.K. have come out with studios saying that Eon or Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer are determined that Daniel Craig’s decade-long reign as 007 continue.

The Page Six feature of the New York Post said Eon boss Barbara Broccoli is producing the off-Broadway play Othello, where Craig plays Iago, to eventually get the actor back for Bond 25. The U.K. Mirror said MGM was “panicked” after not hearing anything from Craig.

If there’s any truth to either (which remains to be seen), it doesn’t appear as if anyone is looking to make a major change.

“Believe in your brand. Cubby Broccoli used to say Bond is the star”

“That means that Bond is bigger than any actor who portrays him,” Wilson said, “and no writer, director or producer is indispensable.”

“It all boils down to don’t be afraid of change”

“The Bond films have been recast six times and each time the series was re-evented,” Wilson said. “Each actor brought out different aspects of the character.”

“We believe story is not an element, the story is a key to a good film.”

The last two Bond films, Skyfall and SPECTRE, included Bond confronting his backstory. They sold a lot of tickets in theaters.

Eon could continue down that path. Perhaps Bond could discover his father wasn’t his actual father. The agent could confront, yet again, a major personal crisis. That could yield many dramatic moments.

Or the filmmakers could change yet again.

If you want to watch Wilson make his comments, the quotes cited here begin after the 11:00 mark:

Caveat Emptor: UK tabloid claims MGM ‘panicking’

Daniel Craig photo opposing Brexit

Daniel Craig photo opposing Brexit

A British tabloid apparently has decided U.S. tabloids shouldn’t have all the James Bond fun.

The Mirror claims that Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer executives are “panicking” because they can’t get Daniel Craig to respond about whether he’ll be in Bond 25.

Here’s an excerpt, for what it’s worth.

A source said: “Daniel and MGM are currently at a stalemate with him having not spoken to them about Bond.

“They have offered a bigger wage deal, and asked about his filming availability to his reps in 2017, but as yet they have not spoken to Daniel.

“They want Bond 25 out in October 2018, but currently they have no Bond, film dates or knowledge of when that will change.”

What’s more, according to the tabloid, getting a commitment from Craig, 48, is an important part of securing an agreement from Sony Pictures to co-finance the movie.

The Mirror didn’t get into this detail or context. But here goes. MGM is a shadow of its former self. After a 2010 bankruptcy, MGM isn’t big enough to release its own movies. Sony Pictures, through its Columbia Pictures brand, has distributed the past four 007 films.

Sony’s most recent contract expired with SPECTRE. That contract called for Sony to co-finance the 007 movies while only getting 25 percent of the profits.

On Jan. 11, the New York Post’s Page Six gossip site said Eon Productions boss Barbara Broccoli is producing Craig’s current Othello off-Broadway play to encourage the actor to do Bond 25 eventually after a hiatus of performing more serious roles.

And the world goes round and round….

Craig’s LA riots movie to begin filming this month

Daniel Craig in 2012 during filming of Skyfall.

Daniel Craig in 2012 during filming of Skyfall.

Daniel Craig’s movie about the 1992 Los Angeles riots, Kings, will begin late this month while the actor still is performing in an off-Broadway play, Variety reported.

Production of the film is scheduled for Dec. 27, according to Variety.

Here’s an excerpt:

Craig will portray a loner who lives in South Central Los Angeles and falls in love with (Halle) Berry’s character. When the riots erupt, he will help Berry in protecting her children from the violence.

Craig currently is playing Iago in an off-Broadway production of Othello that runs through Jan. 18.

The Variety story doesn’t specify how long Kings will be in production. Also in 2017, Craig will be filming Purity, a 20-episode television series for the Showtime pay television channel.

For 007 fans, Craig’s non-007 workload mostly is of interest whether he’ll make another James Bond film.

On Dec. 11, the New York Post reported that Eon Productions boss Barbara Broccoli is indulging Craig (because she’s a producer of Othello) in his desire “to stretch his artistic muscles.”

According to the Rupert Murdoch-owned tabloid, Broccoli’s plan is for Craig to “return to Bond after a hiatus of a few years” doing “more serious roles.”

NY Post ties Othello, Bond 25 in plan to get Craig back

Eon co-boss Barbara Broccoli and current 007 star Daniel Craig

Eon boss Barbara Broccoli and current 007 star Daniel Craig

Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post tabloid says Daniel Craig’s Othello play actually is part of a plan by Eon Productions boss Barbara Broccoli to get the actor back — eventually — for Bond 25. Broccoli is a producer of the play, where Craig plays Iago.

The story ran Dec. 11 in the paper’s Page Six gossip feature.

Here’s an excerpt:

(A) source told Page Six of “Othello” and Bond, “Daniel thinks of himself as a ‘serious actor,’ and he wants to stretch his artistic muscles. And Barbara really believes in his talent. For her to do this [play] for him is a gift — of course she wants him back — this is going to entice him to make another Bond movie.” The insider said Broccoli would ask Craig back for the next 007 film, “Bond 25,” sometime after the play’s run. Other insiders add that Craig is amenable to a return to Bond after a hiatus of a few years when he’ll tackle “more serious roles.” (emphasis added)

The story (originally credited to “Page Six team” but now having a byline of Ian Mohr) also quotes a source as saying, “All those people are not in the running,” when asked about “the heated speculation over actors who could take over the role. The story specifically lists Idris Elba, Tom Hiddleston, Michael Fassbender and Jack Huston. It’s not 100 percent clear whether the source was asked about others who’ve been subject of such speculation.

Normally, the blog would put Caveat Emptor in the headline but it wouldn’t fit. Even if true, the Page Six story raises the question just how long a hiatus Craig wants for Bond 25.