The newest James Bond film, No Time To Die, explored the unprecedented move of a streaming service sale, according to a report in Variety.
The 25th entry in the feature film franchise (no, we do not count the 1967 Casino Royale or 1983’s Never Say Never Again) which brings Daniel Craig back to the role of 007 opposite Lea Seydoux, Ana de Armas, and Rami Malek, was initially slated for release in November 2019. It was pushed to April 2020 when original director Danny Boyle was replaced with Cary Joji Fukunaga, but that was nixed in early March for November, one of the first significant films to change its date due to the coronavirus pandemic. At the beginning of October, the release date moved again, to April 2020.
Variety reports that MGM, the studio behind Britain’s most famous secret agent, has lost between $30 million to $50 million because of the delays, while other studios have stayed afloat in this time of crisis by selling off titles to streamers during this unusual year. Paramount’s Coming 2 America and Without Remorse have both gone to Amazon, their The Trial of the Chicago 7 and The Lovebirds went to Netflix, Sony’s Greyhound went to Apple, and 20th Century’s The Woman in the Window is headed to Netflix.
An MGM spokesperson told Variety that “the film is not for sale,” but the trade reports that sources at rival studios say a sale of the new Bond film “was explored overtly” and they were “open to the possibility of unloading their crown jewel for a princely sum,” floating a $600 million price tag. That number, Variety says, was deemed “too rich for two of the free-spending streaming services,” a likely reference to Netflix, Amazon, and Apple.
Aside from the psychological ramifications of cinema’s decades-spanning and most sturdy franchise skipping a theatrical presentation, there are other complications. Universal holds foreign distribution rights and there are sponsorship deals brands like Omega watches, Land Rover, and Heineken. (I can buy that Bond engaged in a laser fight in Hugo Drax’s orbiting secret lair, but drinking beer from a green bottle? Madness!)
Despite the chatter, MGM maintains they are sticking with an April 2021 theatrical release “to preserve the theatrical experience for moviegoers.”
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