“The James Bond sweepstakes has taken an unexpected turn,” Tatiana Siegel and Borys Kit report for The Hollywood Reporter. “While Warner Bros. remains in the lead to land film distribution rights to the megafranchise — whose deal with Sony expired after 2015’s Spectre — a couple of unlikely suitors have emerged that also are in hot pursuit: Apple and Amazon.”

“The tech giants are willing to spend in the same ballpark as Warners, if not much more, for the rights, sources tell The Hollywood Reporter,” Siegel and Kit report. “GM has been looking for a deal for more than two years, and Sony, Universal and Fox also had been pursuing the property, with Warners and Sony the most aggressive.”

“But the emergence of Apple — which is considered such a viable competitor that Warners is now pressing MGM hard to close a deal — and Amazon shows that the digital giants consider Bond one of the last untapped brands (like a Marvel, Pixar or Lucasfilm) that could act as a game-changer in the content space,” Siegel and Kit report. “Apple’s and Amazon’s inclusion in the chase would indicate that more is on the table than film rights, including the future of the franchise if MGM will sell or license out for the right price.”

“Sources say newly arrived executives Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht are spearheading the effort on Apple’s behalf. Given their background (the pair served as co-presidents of Sony Pictures Television and shocked the industry when they announced in June that they were leaving for Apple), this would suggest that Apple is interested in cutting a larger rights deal or acquiring full ownership to exploit Bond’s largely unmined TV potential,” Siegel and Kit report. “Valuation of the franchise may be anywhere between $2  billion and $5  billion, says an insider.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: There is so much more than can be done with the enduring James Bond franchise than has been done to date. We’ll see just how serious Apple is this time around with professionals Van Amburg and Erlicht finally on the case up against Amazon et al.

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