The film rights to James Bond could be up for grabs after news emerged that tech giants Amazon and Apple may do battle with Sony and Warner Brothers for the long-running film series.
Sony’s previous distribution deal ended with 2015’s Spectre and while Daniel Craig has been confirmed for a further, and perhaps final, appearance as Bond in a 2019 outing.
MGM are looking for a new distributor with Sony back in the running and Warner Brothers have been hotly tipped to land a deal for the James Bond franchise with Christopher Nolan known to have expressed an interest in the British franchise.
For industry watchers, however, the emergence of Amazon and Apple in particular has raised eyebrows.
While Amazon and Netflix have been fighting for small screen eyes, Apple have been noticeably reticent about engaging in the battle for high quality TV content with streaming becoming hugely popular whereas the iTunes Store has majored on selling digital content or offering rentals and there have been stories about a different strategy for Apple in terms of approaching major studios to do a deal to allow early renting of cinema releases mere weeks after release.
Apple’s Music streaming service is up against stiff competition in the shape of Spotify, Amazon Prime Music, Tidal and Deezer amongst other services but they don’t have a similar offering for television or film content – only trying out shows like James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke and a reality show – Planet of the Apps.
Apple’s TV set-top box – the AppleTV – is reportedly due for an upgrade to 4K capability later this year (perhaps even as soon as Tuesday when they are slated to announce new iPhones for this year).
Apple were slated to spend $1Bn on original TV content in the coming months but the distribution rights to the Bond franchise would cost between $2Bn and $5Bn alone.
That’s pocket change for Apple but with Amazon Prime spending $4.5Bn and Netflix spending $6Bn on original content this year it will be hard for Apple to keep up without some sort of accelerated plan.
They have, however, made moves to hire TV executives to potentially accelerate matters on the original content front, with Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg arriving in Cupertino from Sony Television it’s possible any distribution deal might include an attempt to create a James Bond cinematic universe – including potentially a television series based on MI6.
We hardly get to see M, Q and Moneypenny between Bond’s adventures so perhaps if there’s a Game of Thrones size budget for an MI6 TV series there could be scope for adapting some of Ian Fleming’s smaller Bond stories within an enhanced James Bond cinematic universe.