These two giants seek to disrupt much more than the digital content space.
The bidding war for the theatrical rights to the next James Bond film just got a whole lot more interesting. The Hollywood Reporter has revealed that both Apple and Amazon have joined the fray to acquire the theatrical rights to the next Bond film after Sony's deal with MGM ended in 2015 with the release of Spectre. The expectation was that Warner Bros. was in the lead to acquire the film distribution rights to Bond with Sony, Universal and Fox all in the mix, and Warner Bros. may very well end up the winner when the negotiations are completed.
Acquiring the film distribution rights to Bond would give Apple a major franchise before it has released a single piece of original content.
Nevertheless, Apple is the big surprise in this equation, with former Sony Pictures Television co-presidents Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht now heading up a major content division for the company and leading the charge for Bond. A few weeks ago, Apple announced that it was committing $1 billion to create new television series and movies over the next year. Acquiring the film distribution rights to Bond would immediately give the company a major franchise before it has even released a single piece of original content.
Amazon obviously sees the potential in Bond, too, especially since the franchise has only focused on theatrical films to date beyond the original novels, as noted in the THR piece. Apple, Amazon, and the other studio suitors may be looking to license the rights to Bond beyond theatrical films to exploit the franchise's full potential.
Bond films have not necessarily been major moneymakers for the studios because MGM has not typically offered generous distribution fees to its partners, but with Daniel Craig already secured for the next installment scheduled for Nov. 8, 2019, and the global brand recognition that Bond commands, Apple and Amazon certainly see an opportunity to strike while other studios may be trying to negotiate more favorable terms.
Regardless of whether Apple or Amazon obtains the film distribution rights to Bond in this round of negotiations, their presence at the negotiating table for this major property has put the traditional studios on notice that these two giants seek to disrupt much more than the digital content space.