Apple, Netflix and other streaming services explored the possibility of acquiring “No Time to Die,” the upcoming James Bond movie that was originally slated to debut last April. The film’s release has been postponed multiple times, with the Daniel Craig vehicle moving back to November before being pushed into 2021 as the number of coronavirus cases kept growing.
MGM, the studio behind the film, reportedly lost between $30 million to $50 million due to the delays, insiders said. Bloomberg first reported the discussions, which have been the topic du jour in Hollywood this week. Other studios, such as Paramount and Sony, have raked in tens of millions by selling movies like “Greyhound,” “Coming 2 America” and “Without Remorse” to streaming services while the exhibition sector continues to struggle during the pandemic.
“We do not comment on rumors. The film is not for sale. The film’s release has been postponed until April 2021 in order to preserve the theatrical experience for moviegoers,” an MGM spokesperson told Variety.
However, multiple insiders at rival studios and companies said that a possible Bond sale was explored overtly, and believe that MGM was at least open to the possibility of unloading their crown jewel for a princely sum. The studio was said to be looking for a deal of roughly $600 million — a price tag that was deemed too rich for two of the free-spending streaming services. A sale of this magnitude would be led exclusively by Kevin Ulrich, the chairman and CEO of MGM’s majority owner Anchorage Capital Group, insiders said.
It’s unclear if producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, who exert control of the series through their company Eon, would sign off on the deal. Universal Pictures, which has foreign distribution rights to “No Time to Die,” would have to be made whole in any possible sale and reimbursed for any expenses the studio incurred. That the parties involved would explore a streaming sale is notable, given that the film was the first tentpole to move release dates before coronavirus was upgraded to a global pandemic — making it an early indicator that even the iconic spy and ladies man would not save us from the viral event.
Moving “No Time to Die” to a streaming service poses some logistical challenges. The film costs more than $250 million to produce and has lined up several promotional partnerships to help defray those costs — including Land Rover, Omega watches and Heineken. Those companies may have been expecting the film to hit theaters and might not be thrilled with a streaming-only bow. “Coming 2 America’s” sale to Amazon, for instance, was contingent on making sure that its promotional partners, McDonald’s and Crown Royal, were on board with the change in plans.