Amazon’s acquisition of MGM has raised several doubts about the future of the James Bond franchise.
Putting rest to all speculation, Amazon has successfully acquired Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in a whopping $8.45 billion deal. How will this affect the prized James Bond franchise?
- How will the MGM-Amazon deal affect James Bond?
- What is Amazon getting out of the deal?
James Bond Films in Trouble
The multi-decade old James Bond franchise is in serious trouble as the release of its latest and 25th instalment has been in muddy waters, delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic. The release of the film has gotten delayed thrice within a year. It was scheduled to release in April 2020 but ended up being pushed to November 2020 as a consequence of the pandemic. This happened at the peak of the film’s exorbitant worldwide marketing campaign, including a $4.5 million Super Bowl ad. The release was again moved to April 2021, which also did not turn out well. Finally, the date for Daniel Craig’s last 007 appearance is slated for October 7 this year.
Although MGM has proposed possibilities of offering it up for streaming and video-on-demand service, with the film being pitched to Apple for $600 million, all such bids have been futile. Eon Productions, controlled by the Broccoli family, who have primarily produced the franchise ever since its launch in 1962’s ‘Dr. No’, is largely responsible for this.\
Owing to Albert Broccoli’s backing of the franchise, EON and MGM split the profits made from the Bond films while MGM can finance and distribute all the movies. However, the current Eon masters, Barbara Broccoli and her half-brother Michael G. Wilson, still enjoy the contractual privilege of having the final word on almost everything related to the franchise, including the marketing and distribution plans. The traditionalist half-siblings have been averse to giving away Bond for streaming, incessantly pushing for the film to be enjoyed by a “worldwide theatrical audience” regardless of how “disappointing” the delay may be for fans.
And yet again, Broccoli and Wilson have ensured that they keep the franchise on a tight leash and retain utmost control. All possibilities of ‘No Time to Die’ releasing for streaming on Prime Video have been squashed owing to an official joint statement by the brother-sister duo. They asserted in the latest statement,
“We are committed to continuing to make James Bond films for the worldwide theatrical audience”.
This raises concerns about whether the Eon heirs are being too rigid with their approach, given the changing media landscape due to the pandemic as well as evolving audience preferences. Is this what the fans want or is it just another bid for control by the industry executives? Not to forget, Daniel Craig will bid goodbye to the James Bond franchise after ‘No Time to Die’.
Will the concentration of control in Eon’s hands create roadblocks for Amazon to find a suitable Bond replacement? Most importantly, will Amazon be able to take up the franchise for a show or a limited series? Although MGM has been successful in grabbing a marvellous deal for itself, the future of the James Bond franchise appears very uncertain after the acquisition.
Amazon Set to Rule Streaming
While the effect of the acquisition on the James Bond films seems up in the air at this point, MGM can rejoice. The studio behind films like ‘The Pink Panther’, ‘Legally Blond’, etc., finally finds itself in a healthy position after countless failures of finding steady ground with Apple and other legacy studios. But the real cause for celebration is for Amazon which has acquired immense treasure in the form of MGM’s expansive library of 4000 wonderful films and 17,000 hours worth of TV shows that have collectively won more than 180 Academy Awards and 100 Emmys.
Mike Hopkins, senior VP of Prime Video and Amazon Studios commented,
“The real financial value behind this deal is the treasure trove of IP in the deep catalogue that we plan to reimagine and develop together with MGM’s talented team”.
This “deep catalogue” includes iconic films like ‘Silence of the Lambs’, ‘Rocky’, ‘Raging Bull’, ‘Tomb Raider’, and ‘Creed’ as well as widely-loved shows such as ‘Fargo’, ‘The Handmaid’s Tale‘, and ‘Vikings‘.
As streaming has become a favourite among the masses, Amazon’s access to the “treasure trove of IP” will enable it to compete with Netflix, which has 200 million users against Amazon’s 175 million users. While Amazon spent $11 million to create Prime Video content in 2020, the $8,45 million deal to acquire MGM’s repository of films and shows for its content expansion. Amazon has set its eyes to overtake its competitors such as Netflix, Disney +, and HBO Max. It will be fascinating to see how Amazon makes the best of MGM’s potential and deals with the James Bond franchise.
Where do you think the future of the James Bond films is headed? Share with us in the comments!