Though actor Daniel Craig recently confirmed he would be back for another round of “James Bond” after portraying the spy four previous times on the big screen, audiences and insiders are still wondering which studio will land the rights to the franchise.
Warner Brothers is reportedly in the lead to win the contract for the next 007 movies, but Amazon and Apple are also throwing their hats into the ring. If either wins the rights, it could be a complete game-changer for Hollywood, as one of the biggest movie franchises in the world will be distributed by one of two tech companies that are trying to push streaming services primarily.
Why the outcome will heavily impact the industry: With movie-theater attendance at a 25-year low, traditional film studios are struggling to survive in an industry in which the demands are changing rapidly. Viewer interest has shifted more toward television and streaming than physical theaters these days.
Apple has already announced a plan to spend $1 billion on original content, while Amazon is beginning to land some of the most respected filmmakers around. Woody Allen has distributed a television series and a film through Apple already, and he has another movie in the works. Last year’s “Manchester by the Sea,” starring Casey Affleck and produced by Matt Damon, was also distributed by Amazon. It became a sleeper hit at the box office and an awards favorite.
What could happen: If Apple or Amazon gobbles up the rights to future “James Bond” films, there’s no telling the effect it could have on the industry. Both companies could very well skip the traditional theatrical releases and simply stream the titles to audiences for a price. They could also stream the movies while simultaneously releasing them in theaters — an idea that various companies have toyed with for the past few years.
However, if a studio such as Warner Bros. or MGM, Sony, Fox, or Universal (all also in the running) manages to snag the rights to “James Bond,” this will be seen as a major victory for a fledgling industry. The franchise has enough of a built-in brand that audiences will shell out dough to see the films in theaters — meaning one lucky Hollywood studio will have a guaranteed earner on its slate in an economy that has not been at all friendly to movie studios and theaters.
In the end: Audiences will be getting more “James Bond” adventures, one way or another. It’s just a question now of whether they will be beholden to a movie studio’s traditional release of the next film — or whether Amazon or Apple will win and possibly use the franchise as a door to a new world of possibilities when it comes to watching blockbuster movies.