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Hollywood insiders wary of Bezos-Bond alliance – Deadline

Both mast and artifact, the new James Bond film now belongs to the increasingly voracious Jeff Bezos. Most, anyway.

By acquiring MGM for $ 8.45 billion, Amazon can claim ownership of No time to die, which opens Oct. 8, but some insiders contend it’s a mixed blessing. Released in theaters for $ 300 million, the latest Bond represents a tangle of 60-year-old rights deals that reflect the legalistic compromises of the past rather than the artful streamer deals of the present. The prospects for a sequel also lack a pre-geriatric star (Daniel Craig, 53, has signed). Some ticket buyers may also see its plot as a squeaky reminder of white bread misogyny.

Nonetheless, the Bond franchise has been worth several hundred million dollars at the box office, and Bezos, as the richest man in the world, covets muscle. Amazon’s sweet presence in Hollywood has always annoyed its boss, like Brad Stone’s excellent new book Amazon unrelated remind us.

James Bond writer warns Amazon’s deal with MGM could dilute franchise: “Let 007 drink their martinis in peace”

Watch the first cuts of his dystopian series The man in the high castle, Bezos sternly asked his leadership, “Either stop or start again.” “

For this empire builder, starting from scratch is never a problem. “I want my Game of thrones“, He has repeatedly demanded of his staff. Instead, he got the first Woody Allen TV series, Crisis in six scenes – a failure.

Kirk Kerkorian, who owned the Las Vegas casinos as well as the MGM studio, once told me, “A good player knows when to leave the table. He left the James Bond table when he sold his studio to Ted Turner, who also quickly left the table.

Could Bezos learn from Kerkorian’s dicta? I was personally introduced to the Bond manna in 1983 when a group of business executives flooded my office with bundles of documents. “When you sign the top document, you will give the green light to the next Bond film,” the senior executive said. “The film is called Octopus. “

“Is the script as bad as the title?” ” I asked.

“Probably,” was the reply. “But you sign on as president of United Artists and we need your signature, not your opinion. A Bond agreement is a special agreement.

I immediately signed. I had heard the legend of how Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, heirs to the Bond dynasty, built a network of contracts that tightly controlled every creative and marketing element of their franchise, and also kept half of the franchise. action. I had no interest in interfering in this comfortable arrangement. The film starred the brilliant Roger Moore who, at 55, presented himself more as an elegant butler than a spy master.

Missing the mortal danger of Sean Connery, Octopus played torpor at the global box office, but later came Fall from the sky starring a gritty young Craig. The film grossed $ 1.1 billion, ensuring the sanctity of the brand.

But will he survive in a post-pandemic world of frenzy? The Bond franchise does not have the panache to several characters in the Marvel Universe. He never fostered a continuous string of bestselling books, like Harry potter. Even Bond video games have semi-expired.

Bond films never established a unique visual style. Lewis Gilbert, one of Bond’s early directors, once told me that “Bond films are made, not made”. John Logan, who wrote two Bonds, still praises the “making” process as being “quirky, thorny, and special” – and devoid of the analytics Amazon can introduce.

No time to die

“No Time to Die” hits theaters on October 8.
MGM

The last hand hired on No time to die is Cary Joji Fukunaga, whose The beasts of no nation treated with an African warlord who trains orphans.

Now Hollywood warlord, Bezos has his sights set on other important assets beyond Bond. MGM controls powerful television brands under ubiquitous Mark Burnett, the man responsible not only for Survivor and Shark aquarium but also for the TV rise of Donald Trump (The apprentice.) His TV studio also has The Handmaid’s Tale, a Hulu hit and FX Fargo. On top of all this, Amazon spent $ 250 million to purchase the rights to JRR Tolkien’s the Lord of the Rings, and will spend $ 465 million to make the series.

Then there’s the legendary, albeit faded, MGM Film Library, whose titles symbolize its historic past – Sing in the rain, pink panther, rocky, etc. Rights derived from these films have been eliminated, but Bezos’ storyline is to accelerate the growth of the streaming industry while signaling competitiveness in the face of the headline-grabbing AT&T-Discovery deal – a deal that created an entity controlling the majority of American cable viewers.

Since Bezos remains a technician by instinct, his fixation on Hollywood puzzles some members of his management team, according to Stone’s book. I was invited to Bezos’ undergraduate party five years ago when he decided to hype Manchester by the sea into a winner.

Surrounded by Matt Damon, Michelle Williams and a host of attractive women, Bezos clearly relished his new environment. He was also frustrated that he was focusing on a simple art film. After all, here’s a man who yearned for bigger bets: He was notoriously unfazed by his occasional business losses – $ 241 million in 2014 – or the dismal failure of his much-vaunted Fire Phone.

“I’m covered in scar tissue from my many failures, but they don’t put me off,” he told his new friends. I could read their reaction: What a perfect attitude to adopt in front of Hollywood. And James Bond!

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