Online: 0 Guests: 22
MGM files for bankruptcy but aims for more James Bond movies
Posted by Patrick Sauriol on Thursday, November 4, 2010
Yesterday in a Manhattan federal court, battered movie studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer filed for Chapter 11 protection. The beleaguered MGM had been approached by rival studio Lionsgate in a buyout bid orchestrated by billionaire Carl Icahn but the management of MGM decided it wasn't the best offer to take.
Instead, MGM is buying time so that it can reorganize its balance sheet and attract investors to two high profile projects that are the studio's best shot at making much needed money. Those two franchises are The Hobbit duology of movies, which are in pre-production under the direction of Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson, and the James Bond franchise. The twenty-third James Bond movie has been stalled thanks to MGM's insolvency, forcing its producers to issue an announcement that all development on the movie would be halted until further notice.
MGM will have to write a check for something between $265 million to $275 million dollars on its The Hobbit obligations. It has $40 million dollars that it can commit to the two movies and will need to attract investors for the remaining $200 million and change. It might seem like an astonishing amount of cash to ask on an uncertain return but the three Lord of the Rings movies made $3 billion dollars worldwide at the box office, not counting television, pay-per-view or DVD sales. Taking a risk that The Hobbit could attain similar box office figures seems like a decent gamble to take.
But here's where it gets interesting. In the Bloomberg news article relating MGM's bankruptcy move, the studio claims to have a plan for its Bond franchise: it wants to release the next James Bond movie in November 2012 and then a subsequent Bond movie every two years after that. Fifty percent of James Bond 23 would be owned by MGM but the movie's production costs would be paid for by an investor. All Bond movies after the next 007 adventure would then be fully owned and bankrolled by MGM.
Again, on the surface it seems like a good roll of the dice for MGM to take. The last Bond movie, Quantum of Solace, took in nearly $600 million from ticket sales, and audiences appear to be eager to see Daniel Craig play the British secret agent again. However, it's EON Productions who owns the Bond licence and has the rights to make (or not make) more Bond movies. If MGM is stating that it wants new James Bond movies every two years there has likely been discussions between EON and MGM on the future direction of the action series.