Bond’ll be home for Xmas

AMSTERDAM — MGM execs have moved to quell rumors that the latest installment of the James Bond franchise, “Tomorrow Never Dies,” won’t be ready for its December release.

Addressing international exhibitors at the Cinema Expo Intl. tradeshow (June 29-July 2) in Amsterdam on Monday, MGM distribution execs said the Pierce Brosnan starrer will be in the hands of British cinema owners in time for its Dec.12 world launch, before unspooling in most of the rest of Europe and the U.S. one week later.

Word on the street had suggested that the pic, which is the first mega-buck (around $100 million) project to have come from the MGM production line since the studio was taken off the hands of Credit Lyonnais, might not be ready for its holiday slot, particularly if weather considerations during shooting in Asia forced delays.

“This film will be ready and anyone who says it won’t is either wrong or showing considerable bad faith,” said Guy Laurence, MGM/UA exec VP of international distribution and marketing. Per Laurence, getting prints to theaters will be tight but manageable.

All the indications are that the studio is preparing to pump more marketing coin behind “Tomorrow Never Dies” than any of the previous 17 Bond films, largely thanks to a savvy tie-in with product placement partners. Laurence told Daily Variety that some partners, which include BMW, have agreed to put up $16 million in marketing funds for every $10 million MGM invests.

MGM’s president of worldwide theatrical distribution, Larry Gleason, said the decision to reassure theater owners that the film will appear on time had been taken because continued speculation over delivery threatened the availability of prime screens in certain territories. “Once our rivals were telling exhibitors that the film wouldn’t arrive on time we sensed that the prestige screens were coming under pressure,” added Laurence.

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