The announcement of Amazon’s $8.45 billion acquisition of MGM left a lingering question about what this meant for the James Bond franchise. But now we have an answer, as per Variety, Bond producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson intend to keep Ian Fleming’s iconic super spy in theaters.
“We are committed to continuing to make James Bond films for the worldwide theatrical audience,” said Broccoli and Wilson in a joint statement. Their Eon Productions first acquired rights to the character in 1961, under the direction of patriarch Albert Broccoli, who also inked the deal giving MGM rights to finance and distribute their Bond films. However, Eon still has the final say on decisions regarding marketing and distribution.
Eon’s commitment to theatrical release has long been apparent. No Time to Die, the upcoming 25th installment in the franchise, has been delayed repeatedly due to the Covid pandemic, avoiding the streaming and video-on-demand release options other distributors have embraced. Originally slated for an April 2020 release, the decision to postpone came in the midst of a worldwide marketing campaign, costing MGM between $30-$50 million. They revised the release date again and again, before settling on the current plan of October 7.
No Time to Die marks Daniel Craig’s final turn as Bond. Craig will not be easy to replace, having served the longest tenure of any actor as Bond, after ushering in the modern era of the franchise with 2006’s Casino Royale. Broccoli and Wilson also retain the final say in casting Craig’s replacement, which will be key as MGM moves under new management.
It makes sense that Eon would remain committed to theatrical releases. Bond films are the textbook definition of popcorn movies, and it would be hard to justify the cost of all that spectacle without massive box-office returns. Then again, Amazon has committed to mind-boggling production costs for streaming shows like their upcoming Lord of the Rings adaptation, which cost nearly $500 million for its first season alone, so perhaps money is no object here. In either case, Bond will remain on the big screen, where the explosions can remain as massive as they were intended.
No Time to Die is set to premiere in theaters on October 7.