Indicating that the franchise could “act as a game-changer in the content space,” sources confirmed with The Hollywood Reporter this week that both Apple and Amazon have emerged as late but viable contenders in bidding for the rights to distribute MGM’s extensive collection of Agent 007 and James Bond films.
At present, Warner Brothers is in the lead to acquire exclusive distribution rights to the franchise, which have been up for grabs since Sony’s licensing deal with MGM expired back in 2015. Sony is also bidding to instate a new deal, however not as aggressively as Warner Bros. is, sources say. Meanwhile, The Hollywood Reporter’s sources claimed that both Apple and Amazon are prepared to shell out “in the same ballpark, if not much more” for the rights than Warner Bros.’ current highest bid, which has created somewhat of a stir in the tech and digital content space.
It’s Apple’s emergence as a late-hour competitor, in particular, that has Warner Bros. in a tizzy, and has even resulted in the Burbank, California-based production studio pressing MGM that much harder to close a deal soon. It’s not clear from the report exactly how much Apple or Amazon is willing to pay for exclusive rights to the James Bond franchise, but the whole kit and caboodle is believed to be worth anywhere between $2 and $5 billion, and its 25 films have collectively generated almost $8 billion in revenue at the box office, worldwide.
That massive sum grossly exceeds the $1 billion cap Apple placed on its original content creation projects through 2017, and while it’s not entirely clear what Apple would even do with the rights given they likely exceed a realm of content beyond film and television, the important thing to note is that there’s currently quite a bit of competition pursuing rights to the Bond franchise. Sony, Warner Bros., Universal, Fox, Amazon, and Apple are currently in the running, according to the report, for a deal that will likely include rights to a host of other media like James Bond books, video games, and apps.
Apple has in recent years spent a tremendous amount of time and money getting its feet off the ground in the original content space. Of course, while the company has created a few, short series’ like Planet of the Apps and Carpool Karaoke, it’s become resoundingly clear that Cupertino wants to be ‘in with the in’ in Hollywood.
Interestingly, earlier this year the iPhone-maker hired former Sony Pictures co-Presidents, Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht, to lead the tech-giant’s original content endeavors. And according to the report, its Erlicht and Van Amburg who will lead Apple in negotiations. It’ll definitely be interesting to see what comes of these talks, but we wouldn’t get our hopes up about Apple winning big on this one.