James Bond is on the auction block
Steve’s breakdown: Sony is not renewing their deal with EON Productions so it’s a free-for-all. This is a $20 million account so it would be a good idea to call any contacts you may have in Hollywood. This franchise is going to land somewhere. The article below talks about how it would be a good move for Disney to pick the business.
HOLLYWOOD, CA: As you know, there has been something of a bidding war going on for the last several months for which studio gets the distribution rights for the 007 series. Sony is not expected to renew their deal with EON Productions, which leaves one of the most valuable properties around very much on the auction block. Which studio will get it? I have my theories, but here’s a crazy idea: Walt Disney DIS -0.21% is the last studio in town that needs this franchise. So that’s why they should go after it.
Walt Disney should buy the worldwide distribution rights to the James Bond series to keep it away from their rivals and further cement their tentpole and market share domination.
As you know, Walt Disney is on an insane run in terms of mega-hit franchises. In a Hollywood where studios are chasing the franchise tentpole above all else, Disney’s offerings (Star Wars, Avengers, Pixar, Disney Animation, the live-action fairy tales, etc.) are so far above most of their competition that I have long argued that the only way to win is not to play. And now the 007 franchise, whose last two installments made $1 billion and $880 million worldwide respectively, is sitting out there waiting for a new home. It would be a huge prize for any studio, which is the incentive for the Mouse House to take it out of the equation.
Yes, Disney’s blockbuster schedule is almost too jam-packed at this juncture. But since we only get James Bond movies once every two to four years, it could be a way to put their flag on another prime release date. Presuming Disney feels like spending the money and/or agreeing to potentially less-than-prime terms (Sony didn’t get as much of the profits for the franchise as you’d expect, which is why they are not guaranteed to want them back), they will not only get another new franchise to its name but keep the biggest free agent in town away from its rivals.
It’s a matter of getting into a deal with potentially less profits in exchange for cementing their market share domination. The only obstacle is whether the Broccolis would want to send 007 to a studio where it wouldn’t necessarily be their crown jewel. If I’m being “predictive,” I am guessing that the new home for the James Bond franchise will either be Warner Bros./Time Warner TWX +0.32% Inc. (which is Disney’s closest rival in the tentpole game and could use a safe bet alongside the Batman/Justice League/DC Comics films and the Fantastic Beasts series) or Paramount/Viacom VIAB 0.00%Inc. (which could desperately use an A-level franchise at this juncture whether or not Paramount gets sold to Wanda).
Beyond that, it’s a toss up. 20th Century Fox has the home video distribution rights to the older films thanks to their MGM deal and Universal/Comcast Corp. doesn’t need someone else’s expensive property. And, all due respect, I’m guessing the likes of A24 and STX Entertainment are not in the running. But if the industry is really going to be a game of which studios have the biggest/best tentpole franchises, Walt Disney could further cement their dominance by acquiring the distribution rights to the 007 films merely as a matter of making sure one of their rivals don’t get it.
Point being, getting the James Bond franchise, with or without Daniel Craig coming back for one last ride, would be a big win for any major studio. That’s why Disney might want to snatch it away. They will win, but most importantly their rivals will lose. And maybe, just maybe, some of the other studios will stop playing this tentpoles-or-bust game for a little while until the Marvel/Star Wars high wears off down the road.