Apple and Amazon now gunning to distribute next James Bond film

The race to distribute the next James Bond film just got a bit more complicated. According to The Hollywood Reporter, digital giants Apple and Amazon have thrown their hats into the ring for the chance to take on the long-running franchise.

Sources say that both companies are willing to shell out just as much as the major studios, if not more, for the chance to take on what they apparently view as "one of the last untapped brands." While it's unclear exactly what is being talked about in the dealmaking process, THR suggests that more than just film rights could be being discussed for the franchise, which has been valued at between $2 billion and $5 billion.

"In the world of Lucasfilm and Marvel, Bond feels really underdeveloped," said a source familiar with the bidding process. UTA's Yale Chasin, speaking generally about Apple and not about the Bond deal, said, "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."

While Apple's full goals with the franchise are unclear, it's possible that they could be looking to create some sort of TV series surrounding the character. This idea is reinforced by the fact that execs Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht, previously of Sony Pictures Television, are reportedly the ones spearheading the dealmaking. 

Don't get your hopes up for a digital deal just yet– THR says that Warner Bros. is still the frontrunner for distribution rights, with sources saying franchise producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson are still looking to focus on more traditional, theatrical movies. Still, though, Warner Bros. is reportedly so concerned about Apple's involvement that they are pressuring MGM to close a deal, and the fact that Apple and Amazon were even willing to enter the race in the first place hints at a huge change in the entertainment landscape.

While the race has been hot to land the next Bond film, past history suggests that the well-known franchise may not be as profitable as one would expect. The Sony hack showed that the company expected to make just $35 million on Spectre if it grossed $1.1 billion; in the end, they likely ended up losing money due to the film falling short of that goal. 

Blade Runner 2049's Denis Villenueve, Hell or High Water's David Mackenzie, and '71's Yann Demange were previously reported as frontrunners for the directing job for Bond 25, although THR lists Villenueve and Demange as the only two who remain in the running. The movie has a script from Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, who previously worked on the past four Bond movies. Daniel Craig, after much waffling, has confirmed that he is set to return for the movie, which has a Nov. 8, 2019 release date. While we wait to learn more about the character's future, read up on the untold truth of James Bond.