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The James Bond franchise is in an unusual position at the moment. While a 25th movie has been green-lit and writers are attached, there's barely been any word about its progress, including official confirmation of whether or not Daniel Craig is returning to play the British spy. If that wasn't enough, the James Bond film rights for grabs again after resting with Sony Pictures Entertainment for more than a decade. However, that studio is still hoping to keep 007 in the family, even going so far as to recreate a bit of James Bond history to make their case for why the special agent should stay.
Metro Goldwyn-Mayer and EON Productions, the co-owners of the James Bond film rights, have been hearing pitches from studios eager to snatch up the distribution rights. Studios vying for the franchise include Warner Bros, Universal, 20th Century Fox and new upstart Annapurna. As for Sony, their presentation took place inside a sound stage on a recreated set from the first James Bond movie, 1962's Dr. No. Sony's chief executive Kazuo Hirai also helped give the pitch, which focused on the studio's familiarity with James Bond and how they have big plans to grow the series. Whether Sony comes out on top or one of these other studios instead, MGM and EON are only offering a one-film contract. The New York Times speculates that this is probably so MGM can keeps its options open in case there's a sale or public offering on the company.
Sony took over distributing the James Bond movies with 2006's Casino Royale, which rebooted the series and brought in Daniel Craig as a less experienced James Bond. That was followed by 2008's Quantum of Solace, 2012's Skyfall and 2015's Spectre. While all the movies were commercially successful, Casino Royale and Skyfall were the critical darlings, while Quantum of Solace and Spectre earned more mixed reviews. The NYT article also noted that per the original Sony agreement, the studio was paying 50% of Spectre's production costs and only collecting 25% of "certain profits." Factor in marketing costs and giving MGM some profits from some of its non-Bond movies, even if Sony manages to hold onto James Bond, this isn't really a financial victory. It's more a way to have "bragging rights" since the franchise is still so popular after all these decades.
Compared to its competitors, Sony doesn't have a lot of franchise offerings. Besides James Bond, the next biggest hitter of theirs is Spider-Man, but since the Webbed Wonder is also being lent to Marvel Studios, Sony is putting movies like Venom, Black Cat/Silver Sable and an animated Miles Morales adventure into production so they can still partake in the superhero game on their own. Sony also has series like Jump Street, Men in Black and Smurfs, but they don't do nearly the same kind of business. Retaining James Bond would keep the studio supported from an image perspective.
Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for more updates on James Bond 25 as they come in.