Studio co-financing and distributing film with MGM

Once again, Sony Pictures Entertainment will distribute pics in MGM’s James Bond franchise, the result of weeks of negotiations that included several major suitors including Paramount, Warner Bros. and 20th Century Fox.

Sony on Wednesday made the announcement on an agreement that includes worldwide distribution of the 23rd and 24th Bond pics and other unspecified co-financing deals. Sony was a natural fit given that the studio distribbed the last two Bond films, “Casino Royale” and “Quantum of Solace,” which took in nearly $1.2 billion worldwide combined.

As part of the deal, made jointly by MGM co-chairmen and CEOs Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum and Sony chairman-CEO Michael Lynton and co-chair Amy Pascal, Sony will co-finance and theatrically market and distribute “Bond 23,” with Sam Mendes still attached to direct. “Bond 24″ is included under a similar agreement.

“Sony Pictures is the ideal studio partner for us as MGM re-enters the filmmaking business,” Barber and Birnbaum said in a statement. “We have long-standing relationships with Michael and Amy and look forward to what promises to be a prosperous future together.”Deal also includes future co-financing arrangements with MGM on other high-profile Sony pics. The first is rumored to be Sony’s upcoming David Fincher-helmed “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.”

MGM retains distrib rights for “Bond 23″ in select overseas territories; Sony gets the rest of world. Pic is set for a Nov. 9, 2012 release.

Fox continues to control the rights to distribute the library of Bond pics on homevid, with the exception of “Casino Royale,” which Sony handled. While Sony released “Quantum of Solace” theatrically, Fox handled the DVD and Blu-ray launch.

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