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MGM Says Bond 25 Distribution Plans Unclear; Studio Earnings Surge Following Epix Acquisition

Privately held Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer has reported a tenfold gain in third-quarter earnings to $114.2 million, compared with $12.1 million in the 2016 quarter.

MGM Chairman and CEO Gary Barber also revealed during Tuesday’s earnings call that it has not yet selected a distribution partner for the 25th James Bond movie.

“Distribution plans for Bond 25 still have not been announced and we are continuing discussions with a variety of potential partners,” he said. “We look forward to sharing more details on Bond 25 on future calls.”

MGM and Annapurna recently formed a new joint venture for theatrical distribution in the U.S., marking MGM’s return to domestic distribution and a continued expansion of Annapurna, which launched a marketing and distribution operation earlier this year.

Daniel Craig confirmed in August that he would return to play the super spy. “White Boy Rick” director Yann Demange is the frontrunner to direct. Eon Productions’ deal with Sony expired after the last Bond film, 2015’s “Spectre,” which grossed $880 million worldwide.

The third quarter included contributions from premium cable network Epix, with MGM buying out the 80% it didn’t already own from Paramount and Lionsgate in May. The quarter included a one-time tax benefit and an improvement in adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization due to $47.8 million in film impairment charges recorded in last year’s third quarter from “Ben-Hur.”

Worldwide theatrical revenue for film content was only $2.9 million in the third quarter. Television licensing revenue for film content was $86.9 million, compared with $143.6 million for the year-ago quarter, primarily due to significant first-cycle television licensing revenue for “Spectre” and “Creed.”
Television licensing revenue for television content declined to $28.7 million from $88.4 million, reflecting the timing of deliveries of new episodes. The most recent quarter included deliveries of “Vikings,” “Evolution,” “The Real Housewives of Orange County,” “Botched,” and “Growing Up Supermodel.”

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