Amazon has acquired MGM Pictures for a whopping $8.45 billion. One of the most immediate questions this Amazon-MGM merger raises is whether the future of the James Bond franchise will be streaming, or will Bond movies still get a theatrical release? Well, James Bond producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson are already getting out in front of press reports by letting movie fans know that James Bond will still be in movie theaters all over the world, despite Amazon being the franchise's new owner. That said, there are some big changes probably coming to the theatrical release plans for future Bond movies.
Speaking exclusively to Variety, Broccoli and Wilson issued the following statement about theatrical release plans for future James Bond movies: “We are committed to continuing to make James Bond films for the worldwide theatrical audience."
It's noted in the article that while James Bond films will indeed still be shown in movie theaters, details like how long those theatrical runs last are somewhat uncertain at this time. A Bond film like this year's No Time to Die could have a much shorter run in theaters before premiering on Amazon Prime Video streaming, for example.
Here's what we know about the stipulations of the deal between Amazon and Bond film studio EON Productions, via Variety's reporting:
Under a deal first hammered out by Albert “Cubby” Broccoli, MGM has the right to finance and distribute all of the Bond movies, and the studio splits the profits with Eon. However... Barbara Broccoli and her half-brother Michael G. Wilson, still have final say on everything from the film’s marketing and distribution plans to Daniel Craig’s successor.
That's a pretty balanced assortment of creative control and marketing/distribution authority - one that already seems rife with potential future conflicts between EON and Amazon, despite the clear boundaries of the deal. There's also a lot of questions left to answer about what Amazon can do in terms of developing James Bond projects for TV/streaming, as Amazon could arguably be in the driver's seat. Amazon Studios is currently pushing hard turning famous movie franchises like Lord of the Rings into major event series on TV/streaming - no reason to think they'll do anything different with James Bond, Robocop, Poltergeist, Child's Play, or the many other famous movie IPs they now hold after the MGM acquisition. That's not to mention all the TV series from Fargo to The Handmaid's Tale, which are also now owned by Amazon.
The next James Bond movie No Time to Die will hit theaters on October 8th. It will be interesting to see how quickly it goes to Prime Video after that.