Yesterday brought major movie industry news – that legendary studio MGM, a Hollywood institution for almost 100 years, is being acquired by Amazon for a hefty $8.45 billion. And with that news came plenty of questions about the future of MGM’s films on the big screen, the fate of its upcoming slate, and Amazon’s plans for its newly-obtained treasure trove of IP – including 007 and Rocky. If most of those queries are still in the air, the producers of James Bond have been quick to dispel any worries about the cinematic super-spy heading straight to streaming. In a statement released to Variety, Bond bosses Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson said: “We are committed to continuing to make James Bond films for the worldwide theatrical audience.”
The key word to note there is ‘theatrical’ – the intention here is for Bond to remain a big-screen player. There is, perhaps, leeway in the statement – if ‘James Bond films’ refers to the mainline series, there could be potential for Amazon to pursue spin-offs or ancillary adventures that wouldn’t necessarily be intended for cinema release, though there have been no rumours or plans as of yet for such projects.
Either way, what it does mean is that the upcoming No Time To Die is very much still heading to cinemas, with a planned UK release on 30 September. If Bond has long been distributed by MGM, the property is primarily handled by EON Productions, and through the Daniel Craig era has been co-distributed internationally by Sony Pictures, and – for the first time with No Time To Die – Universal. In short, the full ownership of the character is complicated – but whatever happens moving forward, the central Bond movies should remain a cinematic proposition, including Daniel Craig’s 00-swansong.