Eighteen uneventful months have passed since EON Production’s last James Bond film Spectre was released. Admittedly, there has been one solid piece of information that we’ve heard about Bond 25’s current state of production, which is that they’ve hired Purvis and Wade to pen the script. However, that’s been overshadowed by EON’s apparent lack of interest of the franchise itself. Are the producers finally moving on, or is it simply a brief phase? Most importantly; would they ever consider selling their beloved brand?First of all, we must look at the history of the James Bond franchise to understand the meaning it has for the Broccolis. It has basically been a family run business since it formed in 1961. The EON partnership was split 50/50 between Broccoli and Saltzman (who left due to financial reasons in 1975). Saltzman’s complete shares were bought by United Artists who, in turn, became part of MGM Studios after a few decades. So the Broccoli’s have always been pulling the creative strings of the franchise and therefore both Barbara and M.G. Wilson would never consider giving up their 50%, unless they were financially or legally required to. I wouldn’t think they’d sell just because they were ‘tired’ of making Bond movies, because their legacy and loyalty to the successful franchise is immeasurable.
So, for argument’s sake, let’s imagine that it’s not a ‘phase’ and the producers are seriously considering selling all their Bond shares to another studio because they are required to do so (or if they are simply mad and just don’t get a kick out of it). The producers could easily hand it over to MGM – who would probably pay the most since they’d have 100% control over the franchise’s future. Thus, I think selling to them would be their first and best choice. Then again, MGM have been releasing financial hiccups recently and although they’d cling to the franchise with their last breath, they might not have enough money to buy the other half of the rights.
So who else could be the bidder? Disney have been extremely happy with their line-up of films ever since they bought out LucasFilm (Star Wars and Indiana Jones). So Disney isn’t new to the idea but EON wouldn’t get much from them since they’re already so strong without Bond and they’ve expressed little interest for distributing the films anyway. On the other hand, studios such as Sony, Universal, Annapurna, 20th Century Fox and Warner Bros all have. Annapurna and 20th Century Fox are arguably too small to reach the unimaginably high price to buy the shares so I’ll count them out by default.
Sony is interesting because their history with EON goes back many years. First they sued EON because the film’s usage rights were being disputed but then they partnered up with them years later to co-distribute Casino Royale. Anyway, now the deal is finished and Sony are very eager to continue supporting the films, but are they willing to invest that much money for Bond? I think it could be possible because they’ve got experience with the films and they produce their own franchises too (not well though). It’s a big risk for sure, but MGM should be happy with them so that’s a positive aspect.
Universal and Warner Bros. are very similar because they both produce their own successful franchises and they’re loaded with money too. Once again MGM will probably have their say and it could go either way. For me, Warner Bros. are a little too distracted with their risky DCEU films and I feel like Bond wouldn’t be given much thought. Universal seem to appreciate all of their titles and also leave enough room for each to shine. Of course Bond wouldn’t be their biggest concern but I feel like they’d respect it and work well with MGM.
In conclusion I feel like it’s very unlikely that EON (i.e. Barbara and M.G. Wilson) would ever sell their shares of the Bond films. However, if they did, it could be very profitable for both production companies and it would secure the franchise’s long-term future, as well as guarantee a higher rate of Bond films made per decade.