Eon’s Rhythm Section gets delayed again

Eon Productions logo

Eon Productions’ The Rhythm Section, the company’s non-Bond spy film, has been pushed back a second time to early 2020, Variety reported.

The movie, starring Blake Lively, is now scheduled for Jan. 31, 2020, the entertainment news outlet said.

The Rhythm Section was originally scheduled by Paramount for Feb. 22 of this year. Lively suffered an injury during filming in 2017. The movie’s release was pushed back to Nov. 22.

Lively “underwent two hand surgeries before shooting resumed,” according to Variety.

.The new release date means that Eon will have two movies coming out a little more than two months apart. No Time to Die, Eon’s 25th James Bond film, will be released on April 3, 2020, in the U.K. and April 8 in the U.S.

The Bond film will be will be released by United Artists Releasing, a joint venture between Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Annapurna Pictures, in the U.S. and Universal internationally.

Annapurna may be near deal with banks, Deadline says

Annapurna logo

Annapurna Pictures, which is involved with the distribution of Bond 25, may be near a deal with banks and avoid bankruptcy, Deadline: Hollywood reported.

Tech mogul Larry Ellison, father of Annapurna founder Megan Ellison, has offered banks between 80 and 85 cents on the dollar on what the company owes the banks, the entertainment website said, citing sources it didn’t identify.

“This for a debt sources place at north of $200 million that the company defaulted on, through its $350 million credit facility secured in fall 2017,” Deadline reported. “The credit facility was to be replenished by receivables, which weren’t nearly enough to service the debt.”

Why Bond fans should care: Annapurna and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (Bond’s home studios) are partners in United Artists Releasing. UA Releasing will distribute Bond 25 in the U.S. while Universal handles distribution internationally.

The Hollywood Reporter, Deadline and other entertainment sites previously reported Annapurna was considering Chapter 11 bankruptcy. With Chapter 11, a company reorganizes under the supervision of a bankruptcy court.

The only reason this figures into Bond 25 is because MGM’s own financial weakness. MGM had its own Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2010, which left it without its own distribution operation. It joined forces with Annapurna to at least get back into the distribution business in the U.S. Annapurna started a distribution operation in 2017.

Bond 25 questions: The Annapurna edition

Eon’s Bond 25 logo

Annapurna, one of the studios involved with Bond 25, has been having a financial crunch after a series of movies that underperformed at the box office. The Hollywood Reporter has said, quoting “multiple sources” that Annapurna has hired a law firm to explore “bankruptcy protection.”

Since Annapurna is a Bond 25 player, naturally the blog has a few questions.

What does Annapurna have to say?

Megan Ellison, Annapurna’s founder, wrote a note to employees.

“I got word this morning that there are some rumblings around town about our current status with the banks and that a story is likely to hit the press at some point today,” Ellison wrote, according to THR.

“Restructuring deals with financial institutions is not uncommon, yet the process is usually handled without a spotlight on it….Regardless of whatever comes out in the press, the truth is that we are well on our continued path towards success. There will always be speculation, misinformation and personal jabs in the press – that’s part of the business.

Sounds like a denial. Is it? 

Remember, THR reported that Annapurna had retained a law firm to evaluate a bankruptcy filing. It didn’t say the decision had actually been made to file. That’s not the firmest denial. Way back in the Watergate days, that sort of thing was dubbed a “non-denial denial.”

Moreover, when a CEO says they have no plans to do something, that applies to this moment, right now. Things change tomorrow, next week, next month, etc. Such statements have a very short life span. Things can change — and sometimes in a hurry.

Why should a Bond fan care?

Annapurna and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer are partners in a joint venture called United Artists Releasing. The joint venture will release Annapurna and MGM films in the U.S. UAR is slated to release Bond 25 in North America.

Bond 25, of course, is well underway in its filming schedule. The question is whether an Annapurna bankruptcy filing, should it happen  cause some kind of hiccup with U.S. distribution. Universal is handling Bond 25 distribution internationally. Meanwhile, THR updated its original story to quote an MGM “source” (not identified) as saying there won’t be an effect.

But we should be OK for Bond 25, right?

Probably, at least for now. But a week ago nobody was talking about the possibility of an Annapurna bankruptcy. It’s something to keep an eye on.

UPDATE (Aug. 8) –– Things might be dicier regarding that last question.

Deadline Hollywood has more details. The entertainment website says Annapurna “has burned through much of the $350 million credit facility the company secured in fall 2017. Those sources said Annapurna has either defaulted or is about to default on that debt. A deadline has been set by lenders for this week to come to a solution.”

Credit facility is a fancy way of saying borrowed money.

Larry Ellison, co-founder of Oracle and Megan Ellison’s father, may bail out Annapurna, according to Deadline. But the tech mogul is being a tough negotiator and preparations are being made to file for Chapter 11 in either California or Delaware if no deal is struck, Deadline reported.

Annapurna exploring bankruptcy, THR says

Annapurna logo

Annapurna Pictures, one of the studios involved with Bond 25, is exploring bankruptcy, The Hollywood Reporter said.

The studio “has retained a law firm to explore bankruptcy protection,” the entertainment trade publication/website reported, citing “multiple sources.”

Annapurna and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer are partners in United Artists Releasing. UA will release Bond 25 in the United States in April 2020. Universal will handle international distribution.

Annapurna was founded by tech heiress Megan Ellison in 2011. It added a distribution operation of its own before joining forces with MGM to form United Artists Releasing.

“But perhaps the biggest looking question is the fate of the James Bond franchise,” THR said of a possible Annapurna bankruptcy. “Annapurna has at least a 50 percent stake in United Artists Releasing. …How Annapurna’s cash flow issues will effect the MGM tentpole’s release will be determined.”

Annapurna is in a cash crunch after a series of money-losing films.

With a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing, a company is granted protection from creditors while it devises an operating plan. Such plans are subject to approval by a bankruptcy court. MGM filed for Chapter 11 in 2010 and it reorganized while in bankruptcy court. It exited bankruptcy without a distribution operation. Forming the United Artists Releasing joint venture was a way for it to get back into distribution.

UPDATE: The Hollywood Reporter updated its story. First it added this sentence related to Bond 25: “An MGM source says there would be no impact on the release of any its titles including Bond.”

The outlet (along with others) included the text of an email Megan Ellison sent to Annapurna employees. Here’s the text via THR:

Restructuring deals with financial institutions is not uncommon, yet the process is usually handled without a spotlight on it. Fortunately/unfortunately, people like to write about me and my family.

That said, it is of tremendous importance to me that you all know we are as committed as ever to this company and are in full support of our future.

Regardless of whatever comes out in the press, the truth is that we are well on our continued path towards success. There will always be speculation, misinformation and personal jabs in the press – that’s part of the business.

But know, none of that matters to me. What does is your sense of security and protecting the special community and culture at Annapurna. I believe in what we make and have no intention of stopping any time soon.

We have a lot of exciting things on the horizon and I have no doubt all of our hard work will continue to show Annapurna’s unique and powerful place in this industry.

If you have any questions or want to talk, please do not hesitate to reach out.

It should be noted that’s not the hardest denial. THR said Annapurna had hired a law firm to look into bankruptcy. Ellison didn’t specifically deny that.

UPDATE II (Aug. 8) — Deadline Hollywood has more details. The entertainment website says Annapurna “has burned through much of the $350 million credit facility the company secured in fall 2017. Those sources said Annapurna has either defaulted or is about to default on that debt. A deadline has been set by lenders for this week to come to a solution.”

Larry Ellison, co-founder of Oracle and Megan Ellison’s father, may bail out Annapurna, according to Deadline. But the tech mogul is being a tough negotiator and preparations are being made to file for Chapter 11 in either California or Delaware if no deal is struck, Deadline reported.

Bond 25 questions: The Universal edition

Universal logo

With Bond 25, one of the biggest changes was how Universal, part of Comcast, would be in charge of international distribution.

For the past four 007 films, Sony’s Columbia Pictures handled all the distribution. With Bond 25, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Annapurna, through the United Artists Releasing joint venture, would handle the U.S. and Canada. Universal would deal with international distribution, which is the biggest piece of a Bond film.

With that in mind, the blog has a few questions.

Hey, what about that Bond 25 teaser trailer?

A favorite Bond fan theory was that a Bond 25 teaser trailer might be attached to Universal’s Fast & Furious Presents Hobbs & Shaw, a spinoff from the studio’s successful Fast and the Furious franchise.

Well, Hobbs & Shaw is being released this week. There’s no sign of a Bond 25 trailer. Perhaps it will still happen. Still, these days, trailers debut online days before they show up in theaters. Time is running out for a Bond 25 teaser trailer to be part of Hobbs & Shaw.

What does Universal mean for Bond 25 otherwise?

It may mean the situation is more complicated. Or, as Napoleon Solo once said in an episode of The Man From U.N.C.L.E., “It’s a three-cornered game.”

For the last four Bond films, Columbia managed marketing and releasing. MGM was the home studio for the Bond franchise but it lacked its own distribution operation.

Now, with United Artists Releasing, MGM and Annapurna are involved in addition to Universal. There’s no single distribution/marketing point.

So?

Recall that the late April “reveal” event in Jamaica didn’t have a title for Bond 25. The MI6 James Bond website has reported there was a title (A Reason to Die) ready to go but Eon Productions and its studio partners opted to hold off. The film still has no title three months later.

Essentially, there are more parties who need to be kept in the loop. United Artists Releasing is a proxy for two different (financially struggling) studios while Universal is a Bond newbie.

Anything else?

Back in 2015, Michael G. Wilson of Eon Productions said Eon really does the marketing for Bond films, its studio partners merely execute the plan.

But is that really the case this time? Or would Universal like to have a say? Perhaps we’ll see.

A Reason to Die was B25’s tentative title, MI6 site says

Eon’s Bond 25 logo

A Reason to Die was the tentative title for Bond 25, the MI6 James Bond website said.

The title “was attached to Bond 25 right up until” April 24, the night before a livestream event from Jamaica revealing cast and crew members, the website said.

Eon Productions conferred with its studio partners and A Reason to Die was “considered weak and ‘not Bond enough’ and pulled from the event,” the website reported. “A title treatment had been created.”

Bond 25, due out in April 2020, will be distributed by United Artists Releasing (a joint venture between Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Annapurna Pictures) in the U.S. and Universal internationally.

MI6 James Bond sent out this tweet on Wednesday night. It includes a red “X” and the April 24 date written in pencil.

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Reports based on the tweet alone then surfaced earlier today, including The Express and Esquire UK. The latter said it was skeptical MI6 James Bond was correct.

At the April event in Jamaica, Eon’s Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson only referenced Bond 25. Wilson said he couldn’t remember the last time a Bond film had a title when filming began. A May 5 Haphazard Stuff video contrasted that statement with Eon media events held when filming began on earlier Bond films.

Variety discusses MGM, Annapurna tensions about Bond 25

Annapurna logo that won’t be seen on Bond 25, according to Variety

Variety has a story today providing an update about the financial challenges facing Annapurna Pictures. It includes a passage indicating Annapurna and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, partners in a joint venture that releases movies in the U.S., have had some tensions concerning Bond 25.

Quick recap: MGM exited bankruptcy in 2010 without its own distribution operation. It cut a series of deals with other, bigger studios for distribution. Annapurna, meanwhile, started distributing films. MGM and Annapurna then formed a joint venture in fall 2017 to release each other’s movies in the U.S.

In 2018, it was announced the joint venture would handle Bond 25 in North America while Universal would perform international distribution. No details were released concerning how the studios would finance the movie. The past two 007 films, Skyfall and SPECTRE, were co-financed by MGM and Sony Pictures.

Earlier this year, the joint venture was given the name United Artists Releasing.

With that background in mind, this passage in the Variety story caught the blog’s eye: “Despite dipping into Annapurna’s deep pockets to roll out the upcoming 25th installment in the James Bond spy series…Annapurna would not be allowed” to show its logo on the next 007 film. According to Variety, an MGM executive “would bark at journalists” for including a mention of Annapurna.

What’s more, according to the story, Annapurna’s movie-releasing team now, essentially works for United Artists Releasing.