James Bond has a release date, but distribution up for grabs

Daniel Craig will return as 007 in James Bond 23

Now that MGM has announced the next James Bond film will be in theaters November 2012, THR has begun speculating on what studio will distribute Bond 23.

According to the report, the lead player appears to be Paramount Pictures, which has informally gotten first crack at negotiations, thanks to a close relationship between the studio’s top brass and new MGM co-chairmen Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum. Sony Pictures, which successfully released the last two Bond films and is said to be on good terms with Bond rights owners the Broccoli family. However, sources say the Broccolis have approved Paramount as a possible distributor and preliminary talks have begun. Another point in Paramount’s favor is that the studio and MGM are part of the joint venture that operates the Epix pay television channel.

MGM also is said to be interested in opportunities to partner on some films that Paramount has in development. A source with knowledge of Paramount’s thinking says the studio’s position is that the Bond franchise is very attractive but not “life-changing.” The last two Bond films starring Daniel Craig as Agent 007 – Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace – each grossed about $600 million worldwide, but given the cost and profit participations to the Broccoli family and others, the films apparently don’t provide profit on the order of a Transformers or Iron Man.

The next Bond film – tentatively titled Bond 23 – will be directed by Sam Mendes and will likely cost less than $150 million. It is not clear whether MGM will finance all or part of the film, though one source with ties to Paramount believes MGM would like to finance the film and cover marketing costs.

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