The Hollywood Reporter has published an article detailing the major players who are vying to gain at least some control over rights to the James Bond franchise, which -according to the article- is deemed to be under-utilizing its true potential for profitability. Warner Brothers is said to be the front runner for gaining distribution rights for the next film in the series, set for release in November 2019. Daniel Craig will star in what he has stated will be his last appearance in a Bond film. Among the top bidders in competition with Warners are newly-emerging entertainment powerhouses Amazon and Apple, both of which would like to expand the Bond image into mediums beyond feature films. However, the rights situation regarding the franchise is a complex one. Eon Productions, founded by the series' original producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, owned the franchise outright and had a long term distribution deal with United Artists. The two men had a strained relationship and when Saltzman decided to sell his share of the franchise in the mid-1970s, he snubbed Broccoli by selling his interests directly to United Artists. The partnership between Broccoli and UA was a friendly and fruitful one but by 1989 the old guard at the studio had left and an acrimonious relationship developed between the new top brass and Broccoli, who fumed over what he felt was a bungled marketing campaign for "Licence to Kill" in 1989. Broccoli opted to put the series on hiatus until 1995 when a new regime had taken over under the auspices of MGM, which had taken over United Artists years before. When the series resumed with "GoldenEye", Cubby Broccoli had passed the oversight of the Bond franchise on to his daughter Barbara and her step brother Michael G. Wilson. Cubby, who died in 1996, lived to see "GoldenEye" become a blockbuster and the Bond franchise reinvigorated under his heirs.
Daniel Craig took over the Bond role from Pierce Brosnan's successful run, and Sony has distributed each of the four films in which he has starred. The forthcoming Bond film is up for distribution bids and has attracted major studios. Unusually, the deal is only for one picture. Profits for the studio that distributes Bond films can be relatively slim compared to the sizable budgets they must front. However, the Bond franchise still has a great deal of prestige and a durable following. The last two films grossed almost $2 billion internationally and the video and merchandising rights are also very lucrative. Although the major bidders would like to control all rights to the franchise outright, in order to do so the winning studio would have to convince both MGM and Eon Productions to sell their interests in Bond. To date, there is no indication that either party, let alone both of them, intend to do so. Click here for more.