Amazon have acquired MGM for $8.45 billion. And one of the major franchises impacted is James Bond.
Commentators have been worried that the deal might have a negative impact on the films, with some wondering if new Bond movies will go straight to Amazon Prime.
EON Productions, Barbara Brocolli and step-brother Michael G. Wilson released a statement to Variety when news of the deal broke.
“We are committed to continuing to make James Bond films for the worldwide theatrical audience”.EON productions/Variety
So, if EON maintain their historically-negotiated control over the franchise, including casting and distribution, it would seem that future Bond movies will still debut in cinemas. To be fair, some Amazon Original features already get a theatrical release.
Many fans will be delighted as the security of the acquisition after many years of MGM turmoil might mean regular releases for new Bond. Yet Amazon’s statement on how they value the IPs, as reported by CNN, contains a phrase that some may interpret as worrying:
“The acquisitions thesis here is really very simple: MGM has a vast, deep catalog of much beloved intellectual property,” Bezos said, “and with the talented people at MGM and the talented people at Amazon Studios, we can reimagine and develop that IP for the 21st century.”CNN.com
Will this “reimagining” apply to Bond, and will that, alongside potential expansion for spin-offs, lead to dilution of content or reduction in quality?
It’s early days yet, but Amazon’s new purchase could provide exciting opportunities for the 60-year old iconic spy franchise.
Would the streamer want to add new Bond content, and develop a BONDVERSE?
Movies are rife with them today. Whether it’s the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or the Monsterverse, the idea of having your stories connect in some way to make a grander storyline is all the rage. So much so that young viewers are likely to think it’s the only way to go.
But the Bond movies have been doing it for nearly 60 years, with 25 films which have had a few continuing characters, some interconnected stories, and especially in Daniel Craig‘s tenure, a tight continuity.
Yet the Bond movie producers, EON Productions, have kept a tight hold on to the rights, with little possibility for TV series.
In 2021, Mission: Impossible reaches the age of 25 and the next Tom Cruise spy action thriller will make huge box office next year. This Autumn EON’s No Time to Die, delayed for two years, will finally debut SIX years after the previous instalment Spectre.
There’s a very real possibility that some fans will move on due to the long gaps between the films and the lack of any other Bond content. Younger moviegoers may never stumble across the films. And what young movie fan, brought up on superhero flicks and animation would pay to watch The Man with the Golden Gun or Thunderball?
But if EON, or a potential MGM buyer like Amazon open the way to side projects or TV, the “Bondverse” could keep existing fans and generate new ones. Just look at the success of the Star Wars and Marvel TV shows on Disney Plus as one example. With the further rise of streaming content during the 2020-21 pandemic, wouldn’t an extended “universe” make sense?
Here’s my suggestion for Bond TV spin-offs that I would definitely watch.
1. YOUNG BOND.
Adapt Charlie Higson‘s hugely successful Bond books for the small screen. Appeal to the younger adventurers in the audience. Live action? Animation? Like Netflix’s “Carmen Sandiego“?
2. DOUBLE O.
A period thriller set in the sixties, following new agents on their first missions with more seasoned operatives. The adventures the other Double-O agents has when Bond was off elsewhere. Then season two would be in the eighties. Then season three… Today?
The adventures of the some time CIA agent who works with Bond. Make it an international tale. With LEITER training new agents. Or chasing corrupt agents.
Fans may remember that for a short time the producers toyed with the idea of having Halle Berry appear in a spin-off movie with her character from Die Another Day. Why not try it now? Halle Berry was excellent in John Wick Parabellum. Perhaps she is on the run. Perhaps pursued by LEITER in a series crossover?
5. QUANTUM TO SKYFALL.
For me, the Bond we saw in Skyfall seemed a lot more seasoned than the rookie we saw develop in Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. It felt like we had missed our a few adventures between films. So why not explore them now? A limited series with a new actor playing Daniel Craig’s Bond after Quantum, defeating new enemies and suspecting – alongside a returning Judi Dench (why not?) – that a new international enemy is growing.
And finally. Star Trek had success with PICARD, where Patrick Stewart returned as an older Jean-Luc, so why not do something similar with Bond:
6. JAMES BOND: NEVER MISS.
Pierce Brosnan returns as an older Bond in retirement who has to come back into the field because… Well you get my drift. And bring back David Arnold to compose the score.
It’s a loosely-connected “universe”, no need to worry about making it all fit. Just make it GOOD.
This year, spies are back big time: The Courier, Jack Ryan, Spy City, Mission: Impossible, The Ipcress File and The Kings Man.
If only EON Productions were able to capitalise on this resurgence, with an expansion of the espionage world of the character that arguably inspired ALL others.
First published on Reel Anarchy.