Sony May Lose 007, Seems Okay With It

Tom Rothman talks about the future of the spy, and why it may not be at Sony.

Sony is trying to rebuild after a few years of weak showings at the box office and that disastrous hack and leak. Amy Pascal has stepped down and Tom Rothman, formerly the chief boogeyman at Fox, has taken her place. In the aftermath of all this we've seen Sony decide to share Spider-Man with Marvel, start an attempt at their own comic book universe by partnering with Valiant and start moving on the long-dormant The Dark Tower, all attempts to get back in the game. Meanwhile Michael DeLuca jumped ship over to Universal, possibly the beginning of a major change in personnel in Culver City. 

The one bit of stability Sony has, the one franchise that is dependable and beloved and works, is the 007 series... and now Tom Rothman is acting like maybe they'll lose that. 

“The reality is that Sony’s had a fantastic run with the Bonds,” Rothman told Variety, adding, “Sure we’re going to compete for (the rights), but let’s be honest, so is everybody in the business.”

What a weird thing to say! The Sony/MGM deal expires after the release of Spectre this year, but it has expired before (not without some drama). It seems really strange that Rothman is so blase about the possibility of losing the crown jewel of Sony, sort waving off years of good films with good returns. 

Bond has not always been with Sony, and as recently as 2011 MGM was in talks with Paramount to bring the franchise there (I bet the studio would grovel to get 007 today). But Sony has really leveraged Bond for all he's worth, making him very much the centerpiece of their current brand. 

According to Variety there's a lot of scuttlebutt that Warner Bros is going to swoop in - Kevin Tsujihara is good buds with MGM's Gary Barber. Warner Bros would be a fine home for the franchise, even if they would insist on making every future Bond poster blue. 

Rothman's tone in that Variety piece makes me think the move is all but a done deal; the leak was ugly, and the script to Spectre got out, which can't make MGM or Eon very happy. Warner Bros and Disney are the big kids on the franchise playground, and MGM must be tempted to throw in with a powerhouse. At the same time, does bringing 007 to Warner Bros - where he's another franchise jostling for time with the billion dollar DC heroes and Harry Potter - mean the series won't get the attention it deserves? Perhaps staying at hungry Sony allows MGM the most control and the best scenario. 

We'll find out in a few months.