Not a good weekend for movies not titled Black Panther

Black Panther poster

The March 2-4 weekend wasn’t kind to movies not titled Black Panther.

The Marvel Studios film, in its third weekend release in the U.S., is generating an estimated box office of $65.7 million, according to Box Office Mojo.

Black Panther is nearing the $900 million mark globally, according to the website.

A distant second is Red Sparrow, a spy movie with Jennifer Lawrence, at an estimated $17 million.

Third is a remake of Death Wish, with Bruce Willis subbing for Charles Bronson. It’s estimated to bring home $13 million for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

It’s the first film to be released through a new joint venture between MGM and Annapurna Pictures. That joint venture will release films for both MGM and Annapurna under their respective company names.

The producer of Death Wish is Roger Birnbaum. He and Gary Barber became co-CEOs after MGM initially came out of bankruptcy in 2010. But Birnbaum later dropped out and accepted a producer’s deal at the studio. Since then, Barber has been the sole CEO at MGM, which controls half of the 007 film franchise.

MGM watch: 007’s studio decides to go with 1 CEO


Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 007’s home studio, has decided to go with just one CEO instead of two.

The company said Oct. 3 that Roger Birnbaum stepped down as co-chairman and co-chief executive officer. That leaves Gary Barber alone at the top of MGM. Birnbaum will go back to being a producer and he’ll work out of MGM.

Barber and Birnbaum founded Spyglass Entertainment and they were recruited to take charge of MGM as it went through bankruptcy. Barber now will lead MGM as it seeks to become a publicly traded company again. Birnbaum, meanwhile, will be producing remakes of Death Wish, War Games and The Magnificent Seven.

For more, you can view stories by BLOOMBERG NEWS, THE DEADLINE ENTERTAINMENT NEWS WEB SITE, THE WRAP and the LOS ANGELES TIMES.

MGM owns half the Bond franchise with the Broccoli-Wilson clan. The studio is co-financing Skyfall, the upcoming 007 film, with Sony Corp.’s Sony Pictures unit.

MGM watch: 007’s studio may go public

The parent company of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the studio that controls half the James Bond franchise, may become a public company. MGM put out a press release late July 24 that read:

MGM Holdings Inc. (“MGM” or the “Company”) announced today that it has
previously submitted a draft registration statement on a confidential basis to
the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) for a possible initial
public offering of its Class A common stock.

No other details were available. MGM went through bankruptcy in 2010 and a new management team, led by Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum took over. Nikki Finke’s Deadline Hollywood Web site tries to read the tea leaves in a story you can view BY CLICKING HERE. You can CLICK HERE to read the Hollywood Reporter’s take.

MGM was originally created in 1924 when three studios merged. Most classic MGM movies (Gone With the Wind, Ben Hur, etc.) along with MGM-produced television series such as The Man From U.N.C.L.E., are owned by Time Warner, parent company of Warner Bros.

MGM’s film library includes the old United Artists library, which includes the 007, Pink Panther and Rocky series of movies along with the likes of West Side Story and In the Heat of the Night. UA also acquired half the Bond franchise when Eon Productions co-founder Harry Saltzman sold out in 1975 because of financial difficulties. The slimmed down MGM struck a deal with Sony Corp.’s Columbia Pictures to release the upcoming Skyfall.

MGM watch: Studio wants its Bond 23 parter to co-finance other films, Deadline says

Nikki Finke’s Deadline entertain Web site says Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, negotiating with various studios to distribute Bond 23, to also co-finance other films.

The story, which you can read BY CLICKING HERE, leads off with a report that actor Javier Bardem has been offered a Bond 23, but doesn’t offer many details. The rest of the report talks about how MGM is trying to use its Bond 23 talks for larger things. An excerpt:

Deadline has learned that MGM’s new leadership is trying to leverage the next Bond pic, and indeed the Bond franchise, to create more cash flow for the post-bankruptcy studio. The new brass, Spyglass Entertainment co-owners Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum who are now the Co-Chairmen/CEOs of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc, are in the middle of negotiating to make an overall deal for worldwide theatrical and home entertainment distribution of not just Bond but also MGM’s new product as well as its library of films. But what isn’t known is that, as part of that deal, MGM wants whichever studio is chosen to distribute Bond 23 to co-finance a number of films with MGM.

These set of negotiations have the potential to have a longer-term effect on the Bond franchise than any particular Bond 23 casting, even an Oscar winning actor such as Bardem.

MGM and Eon Productions each control half of Bond. But if Deadline’s reporting is accurate, 007 is being used as the equivalent of Boardwalk or Park Place in a real-life game of Monopoly, IF the Bond-related part of the deal goes beyond just distributing Bond 23. It all depends on how far MGM goes in trying to “leverage” the Bond franchise and not just Bond 23. The Deadline story doesn’t explain further.

The other Monpoly players don’t necessarily like MGM’s tactics, according to the report:

There’s no doubt this is a shrewd move by MGM, but Deadline has learned it’s not sitting well with the majors. Top execs at Sony and Fox and Paramount and Warner Bros who are all involved in the negotiations to distribute Bond “are growing increasingly frustrated with the way that the Spyglass duo are playing one studio off another — and enjoying it,” in the words of one exec involved.

Here’s why the Deadline story makes us uneasy. Harry Saltzman once owned half of Bond and tried to “leverage” it in other business dealings. In Saltzman’s case, he used his share of Bond as collateral for loans that eventually came due and United Artists bought him out, and MGM eventually acquired UA. MGM’s new management isn’t doing what Saltzman attempted. Still, the Deadline comment about how MGM wants to “leverage” the franchise makes us wary until we see how it turns out.

MGM watch: bankruptcy court approves studio’s reorganization plan

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc., home studio of the James Bond movies, today won the approval of U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York for MGM’s reorganization plan.

MGM said in a statement that it expects to exit bankruptcy in mid-December. Studio lenders will exchange about $5 billion in debt and interest for a stake in the new MGM, that will be run by Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum, the co-founders of Spyglass Entertainment.

The development comes less than a month after MGM filed for bankruptcy. In its filings, MGM said it wants to take Agent 007 off hiatus and have Bond 23 out in November 2012. MGM and Eon Productions jointly control the 007 franchise, and Eon said in April it was suspending development of the film while MGM worked through its financial troubles.

For more, you can read a story at Bloomberg.com BY CLICKING HERE. To read Reuters’s story (the news service that once employed 007 creator Ian Fleming), just CLICK HERE.

MGM watch: MGM files for bankruptcy, says it wants to jumpstart the 007 series

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Nov. 3. The home studio of James Bond (and half-owner of the 007 film franchise) made its filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York City. The filing also indicates that jumpstarting the now-dormant 007 film series is a priority.

Here’s part of a story by Bloomberg.com:

New James Bond films may be released every second year starting in November 2012, MGM said. It aims to own 50 percent of Bond 23, due out that year, with an equal partner paying all of the production costs, it said. Later Bond movies would be wholly owned and funded by MGM, the company said.

MGM is going to bankruptcy court to wipe out almost $4 billion in debt. The studio’s financial uncertainty prompted Eon Productions, which controls the other half of the franchise, to suspend development of Bond 23. MGM’s filing is the first time any entity involved in the matter has provided any kind of timetable for Bond’s return to the screen following 2008’s Quantum of Solace.

Under the revamping plan, Spyglass Entertainment co-founders Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum will take command of MGM, which will only produce films and TV shows and cut distribution deals with other studios. While most productions will be modest, MGM would produce a few large films such as Bond 23 and The Hobbit. Eon’s boss people, Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, haven’t spoken publicly about the Spyglass plan.

The studio’s statement on the filing tried to sound reassuring and said it’s anticipating the journey through bankruptcy court will be short:

MGM has sufficient cash on hand, and the consent of its lenders to use this cash, to fund normal business operations throughout the Chapter 11 process. MGM has filed “first-day” motions seeking immediate Court approval to continue paying its employees, vendors, participants, guilds and licensors in the ordinary course of business during the entire Chapter 11 process, for both pre-petition and post-petition obligations. MGM anticipates that the Plan will be confirmed by the Court in approximately 30 days.

007 questions about how the MGM-Spyglass deal affects James Bond

We may not be able to provide the answers but we’re good at asking questions about James Bond. Here’s our special MGM financial restructuring edition.

001. How long will MGM be in bankruptcy court? Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. is going to file for bankruptcy as part of a plan that MGM creditors approved on Oct. 29. The filing will be what’s known as a “prepackaged” bankruptcy, meaning creditors are agreed on terms ahead of time to try to minimize time in bankruptcy court.

The Wall Street Journal, in a story about the vote by MGM creditors, said the studio might get out of bankruptcy court in “a month or two.” The Los Angeles Times said it might be as little as one month.

If these reports are correct, MGM would get out of bankruptcy court in December or early 2011. But given the twists and turns in the MGM financial saga, you might avoid betting on a specific date.

002. But Bond 23 will get back on track pretty soon, right? That depends on your definition of soon.

003. Once MGM gets through bankruptcy court, what else might hold up Bond 23?

For one thing, the revamped MGM will be smaller and no longer release films itself. MGM, which controls half of the 007 film franchise, will be run by Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum, the co-founders of Spyglass Entertainment. The duo will have to cut deals with other studios to release films. There’s a lot of change ahead at the studio.

Meanwhile, there have been signs that Eon Productions, the other half of the Bond film franchise, didn’t exactly move quickly on Bond 23, even before it said in April development of the film was suspended indefinitely because of MGM’s financial ills. The production company issued a press release last year about how Peter Morgan, writer of Very Important Films such as Frost/Nixon, would help do Bond 23’s script. Morgan has disclosed he never got past the treatment stage while questioning the basic Bond concept. That raises the question whether Eon wasted its time before MGM’s situation worsened.

004. Can the revamped MGM properly finance a Bond movie? 2008’s Quantum of Solace, released by Sony’s Columbia Pictures, had a reported budget of $230 million. MGM’s business plan calls mostly for much-more modestly budgeted projects with occasional big projects. Presumably, Bond 23 would be one of those. The actual budget may depend on what studio ends up doing a deal with MGM to release Bond 23.

005. Does (and should) 007 face some budget tightening? Chances are unlikely Bond 23 would be a bargain basement production but it remains to be seen whether it’s as pricey as Quantum of Solace. A somewhat less expensive Bond 23 might not be a bad thing; Quantum, despite its ample budget, was seen by many fans as not being as good as the previous 007 film, Casino Royale. A major unknown is what studio actually ends up releasing Bond 23 and the terms of its deal with MGM.

006. What studio will release Bond 23? According to Mike Fleming of Nikki Finke’s Deadline.com Web site, there will be a lot of interest among major studios:

If MGM isn’t a distributor, the next installment of James Bond will be a jump ball. Expect Sony (which distributed Casino Royale) to battle it out with Warner Bros and Fox, but watch Paramount emerge in the thick of it because of the close relationship that the studio has developed with Spyglass since that company became co-financier of Star Trek and the followup that is in the works.

007. Is the MGM creditor vote good news or not for Bond fans? Assuming MGM gets out of bankruptcy court quickly, it’s a positive step — but it doesn’t appear to jump start Bond 23 by itself. The Spyglass deal is complicated and was arrived at only after MGM couldn’t sell itself at a price debt holders wanted. The new MGM management team’s job is just starting. We also don’t know what kind of relationship the new regime will have with Eon boss people Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli.