BusinessWeek – Sony Corp. will want a role in the James Bond movies once the sale or restructuring of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. is complete, Sony Pictures Entertainment Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Michael Lynton said.
Sony is interested in distributing new Bond films or becoming a production partner to Los Angeles-based MGM or its new owners, Lynton said at the ShoWest industry trade show in Las Vegas. He said Sony hasn’t held formal discussions with potential buyers.
“We would like to be as involved with James Bond as we’re permitted to be,” Lynton said in the March 15 interview.
The Bond movies are among MGM assets that also include film rights to J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and a library of more than 4,000 titles. The Los Angeles-based studio put itself up for sale after failing to make payments on $3.7 billion in debt.
There may be a role for Sony or another large studio, even if MGM is sold. Not all of MGM’s suitors are equipped to handle global marketing and distribution of the films.
Companies considering second-round bids for MGM include Lions Gate Entertainment Corp., the independent studio run from Santa Monica, California, that typically focuses on smaller genre films, including the Saw horror films and Tyler Perry comedies. Lions Gate couldn’t distribute Bond movies worldwide by itself, Vice Chairman Michael Burns said at a New York investor conference last week.
Other potential MGM bidders include billionaire Len Blavatnik’s New York-based Access Industries, New York-based Time Warner Inc. and Englewood, Colorado-based Liberty Media Corp., a person with knowledge of the situation said last month.
Sony distributed and co-produced the two most recent Bond films, Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. Both films generated a majority of box-office revenue from outside the U.S. and Canada.
Casino Royale took in 72 percent of its $594.2 million from foreign ticket sales. For Quantum of Solace, 71 percent of $586.1 million in sales was from outside the U.S. and Canada, according to researcher Box Office Mojo.
U.S. traded shares of Sony gained 23 cents to $37.80 at 4:02 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The stock has gained 30 percent this year.
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