While Amazon has just got its hands on the catalog of MGM, legendary Hollywood studio, what future could the firm envisage for the flagship franchise of James Bond?
Dying can wait. If Daniel Craig leaves the costume of the most famous spy after the next film that will be released in theaters, James Bond is not about to die. As the Hollywood studio struggled, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer was bought by Amazon after months of negotiations for a staggering $ 8.45 billion.
The firm has in particular got its hands on the vast catalog of MGM, with cult works, including the James Bond franchise, which will considerably enrich that of Amazon Prime Video. More than a pool of films and series to build, Amazon also wants to invest in the creation of original content for the platform.
Amazon buys MGM, legendary production studio and parent company of James Bond
Jennifer Salke, director of Amazon Studios, already explained to Hollywood Reporter in 2019 that Prime Video was preferred over the movie theater: “We know our customers love movies. We’re just trying to change – we’re not closing the strong on theatrical releases. We will continue to [faire] and to acquire films that will adopt this strategy. But it is important that our subscribers can see these films on Prime Video as soon as possible ”.
As for Dying Can Wait and the upcoming James Bond films, their theatrical releases have been confirmed at Deadline by Eon Productions, owned by Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, who owns the rights to the franchise. Amazon will therefore have to comply with this commitment and hope to be able to make the films available on Prime Video some time after theatrical distribution.
The future of James Bond in series on Amazon?
So how do you leverage the James Bond franchise for the platform? Amazon might want to expand the spy universe with a television series, to compete head-on with Netflix, but especially Disney +. Sensing that the future of franchising may lie in the series format, Disney and Lucasfilm have won back Star Wars fans with the series The Mandalorian after the disappointment engendered by the still-often-criticized cinematic postlogy.
For their part, Marvel Studios are enjoying the luxury of being successful as much with their Marvel Cinematic Universe feature films as with their recent series on Disney +. Amazon seems to want to embark on the same strategy with the production of a series The Lord of the Rings, for worldwide TV rights for 250 million dollars.
This series, eagerly awaited by fans, will be the most expensive in television history, with an estimated budget of $ 465 million for its first season. If Jeff Bezos did not hesitate to take out his wallet for the adventures of the heroes created by JRR Tolkien, he should not hesitate to offer the means necessary for the conception of new stories of the spy imagined by Ian. Fleming.
Jeff Bezos’ firm could therefore use this same strategy with James Bond and launch the production of a series derived from this immense franchise. A logical continuation that would even come full circle since the first adaptation of Bond was made on the small screen with the TV movie Casino Royale for the CBS channel in 1954.
Despite its small budget, the soap opera received an encouraging reception and a television series project was for a time considered. This series, entitled “Commander Jamaica”, featured a certain James Gunn who operated from his yacht in the Caribbean. But the project did not come to fruition, and Ian Fleming subsequently focused on the script behind the novel Doctor No.
Amazon could therefore finally be the propellant of a television series project for the famous spy, the hero of an extremely lucrative cinematographic saga. According to Forbes, the James Bond films grossed over $ 7 billion, making the 007 series, according to The Numbers, the third-highest-grossing franchise of all time behind Marvel and Star Wars. Amazon would therefore hold its most direct and strongest opponent to compete with Disney, very powerful since its takeover of Fox.
What obstacle for this hypothetical project?
But this hypothetical plan could run into a big hurdle given that James Bond is not just in MGM. The possession of franchise rights is very complex. The James Bond brand has been registered and is owned by the Danjaq holding company, which is managed by the family of Albert Broccoli, which produces the James Bond films through its subsidiary Eon Productions.
All James Bond films are co-produced by MGM and Eon Productions and sometimes distributed by other companies, although MGM appears to have some VOD rights to James Bond films. Only Eon Productions, run by Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, has significant control over the spy franchise, from casting to marketing to distribution.
The two leaders take their tutelage very seriously to the point of reading and rereading the works of Ian Fleming to ensure the fidelity of the essence of the famous character in the films and do not hesitate to take an important place in the scenario and the production of feature films, even if it means clashing with certain directors, such as Danny Boyle, who abandoned the production of Dying Can Wait for artistic disputes and was replaced by Cary Joji Fukunaga.
Above all, Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson have always favored the unique cinema experience for the James Bond franchise. But in a rare and rich interview with Variety, Barbara Broccoli has not closed the door to streaming:
“We make these films for audiences. We like to think that they’ll be seen mostly on the big screen. But that said, we have to look to the future. It’s the fans who dictate how they want to ‘consume’ theirs. entertainment. I don’t think we can rule anything out, because the public makes the decisions. We don’t. “
If Eon Productions is open to the possibility of the franchise arriving on a streaming platform, Amazon could convince Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson to give a James Bond series a chance on Prime Video, since the films remain doomed to screening in theaters as a priority.
With James Bond, Amazon could even have an even broader vision and want to embark on a “Spy Cinematic Universe” since Prime Video has the rights to broadcast the series Jack Ryan, worn by John Krasinski, and the recent film Tom Clancy Sans. No remorse by Stefano Sollima with Michael B. Jordan.
It would not be surprising if Amazon sees the big picture, but it will be necessary to wait until the deal is fully finalized and the agreements on the rights of the James Bond franchise, and what Amazon can do with it, are decided in good agreement. and intelligence with Eon Productions.