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Ever since Daniel Craig became the new James Bond, a deal has existed between MGM and Sony to deliver the new 007 films to theaters. This deal is set to pay off once again later this year, as Sam Mendes' Spectre is set to arrive in theaters in the fall, but there's now evidence to suggest that the action blockbuster will be the last 007 title to be released by Sony.
The contract between MGM and Sony will be ending after Spectre is released, and while it does sound like the latter studio will be fighting to retain the distribution rights, the competition for the deal is definitely going to be extreme. While discussing the pending end date of the established James Bond deal, Sony Pictures Entertainment Motion Picture Group Chairman Tom Rothman told Variety,
The reality is that Sony’s had a fantastic run with the Bonds. Sure we’re going to compete for (the rights), but let’s be honest, so is everybody in the business.
It's likely that every major studio will put in a bid to try and get the rights to release Bond movies, but right now there is an interesting frontrunner. According to Variety, Gary Barber - the head of MGM - has developed a close relationship with Kevin Tsujihara, the CEO of Warner Bros. The two companies already have a positive history working together thanks to the Middle-earth films, and they're currently working together on the Rocky spin-off Creed, starring Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone.
What may wind up being a big positive for Sony, however, is the fact that the studio has had some absolutely incredible success with the Bond franchise - developments that also including a pretty massive reboot. Casino Royale was a smash hit when it was released in 2006, and ultimately made nearly $600 million worldwide. In 2012, the Daniel Craig-driven franchise managed to create an even bigger success story with Skyfall, which ultimately crossed the $1 billion mark globally, and currently ranks as the 11th most successful release of all time. Even the forgettable Quantum of Solace from 2008 was a huge win, pulling in $586 million by the time it was done in theaters. If Sony can't match a top bid from a competing studio for the distribution rights, perhaps they can just argue their history.
Unless there winds up being some kind of big scandal behind the scenes, it's likely that we won't hear much about this developing story until later in the year, as Spectre won't be hitting theaters until November 6th. That being said, the weeks surrounding that date will likely be filled with reports and rumors about the future of the James Bond franchise. So - as always - be sure to stay tuned for further developments, and we'll keep you posted as new information comes in about the story.