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After a 2015 expiration of the last deal for the James Bond 007 film franchise, a new report claims that Apple, Amazon, and Warner Bros. are sparring over production rights for future films.
An account published by The Hollywood Reporter on Wednesday notes that Apple's emergence into the bidding process is forcing Warner Bros. to press MGM and Eon "hard" to close a deal for the franchise. Sources claim that the future of the franchise is at stake, beyond just film rights.
Reportedly, Apple's new hires of ex-Sony Television Studios executives Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht are driving the effort. They may be fighting an uphill battle, as Eon producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson "remain traditional" in thinking, and appear to be most focused on theatrical movies, rather than digital distribution deals, or migration to a television series format.
MGM has recently secured Daniel Craig to return, after the actor said that he would never return to the role. The next film in the series is expected to release on Nov. 8, 2019.
"Apple is the biggest digital outlet for movies," United Talent Agency's Yale Chasin said to The Hollywood Reporter on background. "I think they are always present in the conversation whether they're upfront or behind any other distributor out there that's turning to them for real control in the digital market."
If Apple is in the running for the franchise, it isn't about profitability. In an email released during the Sony hack and document dump, the former head of Sony's business affairs noted that Bond flick Spectre needed to gross $1.1 billion to earn the studio $35 million. The film actually garnered around $900 million in ticket sales.
Valuation of the franchise is said to be between $2 billion and $5 billion.
Sony programming attributed to Apple executives Van Amburg and Erlicht include "The Blacklist," AMC's "Breaking Bad" companion and spin-off "Better Call Saul," and Netflix's "The Crown."
Other less standard deals for the pair include the revival of "Timeless" after its cancellation by NBC, plus migration of "Community" from NBC to Yahoo, "Unforgettable" from CBS to A&E, and "Damages" from FX to DirecTV.