007 may soon find a new home in Silicon Valley.
In its latest move to find a footing in the film and television industry, Apple has entered a bidding war with Amazon to purchase the James Bond franchise.
As one of the longest-running and most iconic film franchises, the James Bond franchise has 24 films over 55 years. Apple and Amazon are willing to spend billions of dollars to land the distribution rights for the upcoming Bond movies, including the next film slated for release in 2019, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Sony held distribution rights to the Bond franchise until they expired in 2015. Its then-executives, Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht, were hired by Apple in June to spearhead its efforts to challenge Netflix and Amazon in building an original content empire of its own. The pair was given a $1 billion war chest to start producing new content.
Apple is reportedly interested in cutting a larger rights deal or acquiring full ownership to independently flesh out possible 007 TV offshoots. The valuation for the franchise is between $2 billion to $5 billion.
“Apple is the biggest digital outlet for movies, so I think they are always present in the conversation whether they’re upfront or behind any other distributor out there that’s turning to them for real control in the digital market,” said international distribution executive Yale Chasin to the Hollywood Reporter.
Among players outside Silicon Valley, Warner Bros. is reportedly in the lead to land the distribution rights, with Sony right behind. MGM, Universal and Fox are also pursuing the property.
The report also hinted that Chinese sources may try a late swoop for both the movie distribution rights and the much more costly licensing rights.
Unlike Amazon, which already has an established track record of producing popular and acclaimed movies, Apple is still very much a newcomer in the industry. Its first two original content series, the “Shark Tank”-like reality TV show “Planet of the Apps” and the late-night show segment spin-off “Carpool Karaoke,” received mixed to negative reviews after releasing them on Apple Music this year.
Amazon has also taken major steps in becoming a full-fledged film distributor. In July, Amazon closed a deal to self-distribute Woody Allen’s next film”Wonder Wheel.” The next month, it agreed to co-finance a film adaptation of the best-selling book “The Goldfinch” with Warner Bros.
Apple has been aggressively looking to expand in Hollywood by teaming with old-school studios. Apple is considering moving its original content division to the Culver Studios, a longtime Hollywood powerhouse studio that made classics such as “Gone With the Wind” and “The Matrix,” according to the Financial Times last month.
Photo: Pierce Brosnan is shown in this undated promotional photo as secret agent James Bond in a scene from “Die Another Day,” the 20th installment in one of Hollywood’s longest-running film franchises. (Keith Hamshere/United Artists Corp. via AP)
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