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James Bond Distribution Rights Coming Up For Grabs (EXCLUSIVE)

James Bond may bring his license to kill to another Hollywood studio after a lucrative stint at Sony Pictures, sources tell Variety.

The November 6 release of “Spectre” will mark the end of a multi-picture pact between Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Sony that has encompassed “Casino Royale,” “Quantum of Solace” and “Skyfall,” the highest-grossing 007 film in franchise history.

However, insiders speculate that the close relationship between MGM chief Gary Barber and Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara could result in the super-spy shifting addresses to the Burbank studio. MGM and Warner Bros. have partnered on several films including the “Hobbit” trilogy, the May box office dud “Hot Pursuit” and the upcoming Rocky Balboa spin-off, “Creed.”

In an exclusive sit-down interview, newly-minted Sony Pictures Entertainment motion picture group chairman Tom Rothman acknowledged that the fight for the Bond rights will be fierce.

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

“I hear Variety is putting in a bid,” he joked.

Sony extended its contract to co-finance and distribute “Spectre” and “Skyfall” in 2011, throwing in the right for MGM to invest on Sony’s remake of “Total Recall,” “21 Jump Street,” and “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.”

James Bond made an appearance in the hack attack on Sony that helped cost Rothman’s predecessor Amy Pascal her job and resulted in the release of reams of company emails and documents. An early script for “Spectre” was among the items that made their way to the Internet.

“This Bond is going to be great and…hopefully we’ll do as good a job as we did on the last one,” said Rothman, noting that with a global gross of more than $1 billion, “Skyfall’s” box office haul was “by far and away the highest that any Bond had ever done.”

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