MGM's financial difficulties puts Bond sequel on hold

James Bond’s been thwarted — for now — by MGM’s profound financial difficulties.

 

EON Prods. toppers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli jointly announced Monday that they’ve put plans on hold for the next Bond pic.

 

“Due to the continuing uncertainty surrounding the future of MGM and the failure to close a sale of the studio, we have suspended development on ‘Bond 23′ indefinitely,” the duo said in a statement. “We do not know when development will resume and do not have a date for the release of ‘Bond 23.'”

 

It was the first statement from Wilson and Broccoli since last June, when the producers jointly dsiclosed with MGM that Peter Morgan, Neal Purvis and Robert Wade were writing the script for the film, which does not have a director officially attached yet. Purvis and Wade most recently worked on “Quantum of Solace” and “Casino Royale.”

 

Daniel Craig told fans last fall that the 23rd James Bond film would start shooting late this year but MGM and EON never confirmed. Craig starred in “Casino Royale” and “Quantum of Solace,” which took in nearly $1.2 billion in worldwide box office.

 

MGM’s been in process of sorting out its future with its debtholders. Its last announcement came on March 31 when it received another month and a half of relief from payments on its debt, with its lenders agreeing to skip receiving payments until mid-May. It was the fourth time since September that lenders to MGM have made such an agreement, aimed at giving CEO Stephen Cooper enough time to restructure the storied studio.

 

MGM put itself up for sale in November, drawing a trio of binding offers last month. Lionsgate subsequently bailed out of the bidding, leaving only Time Warner and Len Blavatnik’s Access Industries in the running.

 

MGM debtholders are believed to be split into two camps — one that wants to accept the best offer; and the other that wants to prolong the process in hopes of keeping the studio alive. The remaining binding offers for MGM are believed to be in the $1.5 billion range, far below the $2 billion threshold price sought by MGM and its debtholders.

 

MGM carries debts of $3.7 billion. MGM’s assets include its name and logo, the United Artists operations, a library with more than 4,000 titles, the James Bond franchise, half of “The Hobbit” franchise and a barebones film and TV operation.

 

MGM’s only film release this year, “Hot Tub Time Machine,” has grossed a moderate $42.4 million after four weekends.

 

EON noted that it’s produced 22 James Bond films since 1962. Wilson and Broccoli took over the 007 franchise from Albert R. “Cubby” Broccoli in 1995.

 

 

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