1. Sony will return

    By Kevin Wells on 2011-04-14

    Sony Pictures and MGM announced a distribution partnership today that includes future James Bond films, notably Bond 23 and presumably (at least) Bond 24. Also included in the deal is Daniel Craig’s next project The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo as well as a remake of Total Recall, both of which MGM will now co-finance.

    For more inside news on the deal check out Deadline’s writeup. MGM’s press release below.

    Press Release

    LOS ANGELES, CA., April 13, 2011 – Sony Pictures Entertainment will remain in the James Bond business after reaching an agreement with MGM to co-finance and theatrically market and distribute Bond 23 worldwide, it was announced today by MGM Co-Chairmen and Chief Executive Officers Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum and Sony Pictures Chairman and CEO Michael Lynton and Co-Chairman Amy Pascal. Sony will release the next film in this iconic franchise on November 9, 2012 throughout the world except for select International territories, where MGM will directly oversee distribution.

    Sony Pictures and MGM look forward to Sony Pictures co-financing and distributing Bond 24 on a similar basis.

    Additionally, MGM and Sony Pictures have agreed to explore co-financing opportunities on future motion pictures produced by each of the respective studios for the next five years.

    The two studios have collaborated directly and indirectly in recent years on numerous films, including Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, 21, Yours, Mine and Ours, The Pink Panther, and the forthcoming Kevin James comedy Zookeeper.

    The announcement of the agreement to distribute Bond 23 adds another high-profile title to Sony’s 2012 slate, which also includes Men in Black 3 and The Amazing Spider-Man, as well as I Hate You, Dad, starring Adam Sandler, Here Comes the Boom, starring Kevin James, 21 Jump Street, Resident Evil 5 and Total Recall.

    “Sony Pictures is the ideal studio partner for us as MGM re-enters the filmmaking business. We have longstanding relationships with Michael and Amy and look forward to what promises to be a prosperous future together,” said Barber and Birnbaum.

    “In addition to working together on Bond, this deal expands our relationship with MGM as we explore co-financing opportunities on other high-profile projects,” Lynton said. “Gary and Roger are incredibly thoughtful and experienced leaders who are outstanding creative executives and respected moviemakers. While we are excited to be back in the Bond business, we also look forward to future collaborations and I am confident that this agreement will be long-term, lucrative, and beneficial to both studios.”

    “After successfully working on the re-launch of the James Bond franchise with Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace, we could not be more proud or privileged to continue our association with Barbara Broccoli, Michael G. Wilson, Daniel Craig, and the talented teams at EON and MGM,” said Pascal.

    When Sony released Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace, the films had record-high grosses for the Bond franchise, with Casino Royale taking in $599 million in worldwide ticket sales and Quantum of Solace generating $577 million.

  2. MGM roars back to life

    By Kevin Wells on 2010-12-20

    MGM announced today that its restructuring plan is now in effect and has secured $500 million as part of its bankruptcy exit financing to fund new films and television series. MGM announced on 2 December that it’s pre-packaged plan for bankruptcy had been approved. Spyglass Entertainment executives Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum have also taken over as co-CEOs of the new MGM.

    MGM Press Release

    MGM is emerging from one of the most challenging periods of its storied history. We are honored and inspired at the opportunity of leading one of Hollywood’s most iconic studios into its next generation of unforgettable filmmaking, global television production and distribution, and aggressively pursuing, developing and exploiting new digital entertainment platforms,” said Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum, Co-Chairmen and Chief Executive Officers of MGM. “Beginning today, MGM is a stronger, more competitive company, with a solid financial foundation and a bright future. We look forward to working with MGM’s dedicated employees to build upon this company’s legacy.

    MGM recently announced that new James Bond films starting with Bond 23 may be released every second year starting in November 2012. They also recently forged ahead on Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit by making payments to fund production of its two films.

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  3. BBC Archive launches collection exploring the enduring appeal of 007

    By Kevin Wells on 2010-12-16

    Today BBC Archive released a collection of television and radio items examining the James Bond phenomenon through the eyes of those who shaped the character of the world’s most popular secret agent, both in print and on film. Items in the collection reveal the origins, development, and more recent literary iterations of 007 from a 1958 discussion between authors Ian Fleming and Raymond Chandler to interviews and discussions with Raymond Benson, Kingsley Amis, Charlie Higson and Sebastian Faulks.

    On the film side, there are numerous broadcasts that include contributions by Albert R. Broccoli, Harry Saltzman, Sean Connery, Ken Adam, Roald Dahl, Lewis Gilbert, Guy Hamilton, Geoffrey Boothroyd, Lois Maxwell, Roger Moore, Richard Kiel, Timothy Dalton, Paul McCartney, John Barry, David Arnold, John Glen, Michael G. Wilson, and Barbara Broccoli among many many others.

    Additionally there is a behind-the-scenes gallery on the set of The Spy Who Loved Me. All-in-all a fantastic collection for Bond fans to go through. James Bond Archive

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  4. MGM's creditors approve Spyglass deal

    By Kevin Wells on 2010-10-30

    MGM’s creditors have officially approved the restructuring “Plan” that places Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum as co-CEOs of MGM and essentially wipes away $4 billion in debt in exchange for 95.3 percent equity in the new company. The plan will be put into action immediately following MGM’s recovery from chapter 11 bankruptcy that should take about 30 days to complete.

    It’s still unknown what the new MGM will become, essentially whether they will continue to distribute films or not. In the event that it doesn’t, Bond 23 as well as future Bond films will become a major point of contention between the other big distributors, specifically Columbia Pictures, Warner Bros, Fox, and Paramount. One thing is known, the new MGM will have greater emphasis in scripted and reality television shows for cable TV.

    MGM Press Release

    October 29, 2010- Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. (“MGM”) today announced that the secured lenders voting in the Company’s solicitation process have overwhelmingly approved its proposed plan of reorganization (“Plan”). MGM will now move expeditiously to implement that Plan, which will dramatically reduce its debt load and put the Company in a strong position to execute its business strategy. MGM is appreciative of the lenders’ support.

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  5. MGM announces "Plan", names Barber and Birnbaum new CEOs

    By Kevin Wells on 2010-10-08

    Good news for James Bond fans waiting on MGM for more positive news on Bond 23, MGM has formally announced their plan for restructuring and have named Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum as co-CEOs of MGM. Barber and Birnbaum won’t officially take that position until MGM emerges from Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Lenders have until October 22 to vote on MGM’s “Plan” (unless extended) that will see MGM’s roughly $4 billion in debt wiped away in exchange for 95.3 percent equity in the new MGM.

    Press Release

    Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. (MGM) today announced that it has begun a solicitation of votes from its secured lenders for a pre-packaged plan of reorganization (the “Plan”).

    MGM expects to continue normal business operations throughout the restructuring process. The Plan provides for MGM’s employees, vendors, participants, guilds, and licensees to be unimpaired.

    The Plan provides for MGM’s secured lenders to exchange more than $4 billion in outstanding debt for approximately 95.3 percent of equity in MGM upon its emergence from Chapter 11. Spyglass Entertainment would contribute certain assets to the reorganized company in exchange for approximately 0.52 percent of the reorganized company. In addition, two entities owned by Spyglass affiliates – Cypress Entertainment Group, Inc. and Garoge, Inc. – will merge with and into a subsidiary of MGM, with the MGM subsidiary as the surviving entity. The stockholders of Cypress and Garoge will receive approximately 4.17 percent of the reorganized company in exchange.

    Following the receipt of the requisite consents from secured lenders during the solicitation period, and in order to implement the debt restructuring, MGM intends to commence pre-packaged Chapter 11 cases under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code and seek confirmation of the Plan. Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum, currently Co-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Spyglass Entertainment, would serve as the Co-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of MGM following the company’s emergence from Chapter 11.

    The deadline for the Company’s secured lenders to vote on the Plan is October 22, 2010, unless extended. Only holders of secured debt as of October 4, 2010 under MGM’s April 8, 2005 Credit Agreement will be solicited.

    This press release is for informational purposes only and is not a solicitation to accept or reject the proposed Plan of reorganization referred to herein, or an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy any securities.

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  6. Auction: The John Griswold Collection

    By Heiko Baumann on 2010-09-28

    John Griswold

    On October 4, 2010, Winter Associates, Inc. will auction the John Griswold Collection of Ian Fleming and James Bond Memorabilia. Mr Griswold is best known among Bond fans for his book Ian Fleming’s James Bond: Annotations and Chronologies for Ian Fleming’s Bond Stories, the research materials for which will also be part of the auction.

    The Griswold Collection is one of the major Bond/Fleming collections in the world, many of the items are extremely rare or even unique, and it’s highly unlikely that something similar will be on the market in the near future. Apart from many Bond related books of all kinds, the collection contains a large number of rare posters, movie stills, original drawings and concept art, toys and movie memorabilia. Many of the items are signed.

    A brief overview:

    'Casino Royale' 1st edition, Lot #15

    • Books (1,000+ books in 60 lots): 14 Fleming first editions, Jonathan Cape; Fleming Centenary Ed., Queen Anne Press; Fleming signed 1st ed. OHMSS; Sable Basilisk (privately printed, 1 of 6 known); Fleming-owned book, 1907 w/ clamshell; Eaton Press & other sets; signed ltd. eds. by Gardner, Higson, Wood, Lycett et al; 1st ed. paperbacks; Griswold’s research library; comic books, etc.

    Unused 'Diamonds Are Forever' artwork by Robert McGinnis, Lot #72

    • Fine Art & Sculpture: 4 signed Robert McGinnis illustrations: YOLT, OHMSS, & DAF (2); Mort Drucker, 2 MAD stories, etc.; rare Fleming bust, comm. by Cape, c. 1966 (1 of 6 known); Fleming & Bond busts/figs.; custom-made Fleming medallions, etc.

    • Posters/Lobby Cards (130 posters in 100+ lots): Dr. No US 1 Sheets (2); British Quads: Dr. No, FRWL, Goldfinger, Thunderball, YOLT, & more; complete sets of US lobby & British FoH cards; US 2 & 3 Sheets; foreign incl. Photobustas, etc.

    Sean Connery photo, inscribed to John Griswold, part of Lot #230

    • Photos (1,000+ photos in 20+ lots): Connery, Lazenby, Dalton signed; ‘Bond Girls’ signed; stills & contact sheets, many 1960s, some w/ Fleming, etc.

    A Corgi Moonbuggy,
    Lot #258

    • Toys (150 toys in 40+ lots, many mint in box): Corgi Moon Buggy, model 811A, 1972; Multiple Toymakers camera, 1966; rare Whizzwheels Bobsleighs (2); Aston Martin DB5s, model 270A, 1973 (2); Mego & Sideshow action figures; trading card sets; Gilbert, Johnny Lighting, Dinky cars; Corgi & Little Lead Soldiers figures, etc.

    • Ephemera: Call sheets, storyboards, & release/shooting scripts; court docs & photos from Fleming/McClory cases; magazines; promotional, press, & advertising materials, etc.

    Reproduction Faberge Coronation Egg. Full size with carriage inside,
    in blue velvet box with Certificate of Authenticity,
    along with other movie-related and fan items, Lot #237

    • Also: Custom-made 14K Spectre ring; Golden Gun (2); replica Fabergé egg; framed prints; Franklin Mint plates & cars; Griswold’s research materials; CDs & DVDs, etc.

    A complete online catalogue for the auction can be found here. Winter Associates are also offering a CD for $7 that includes a book-format pdf catalog as well as high-resolution images of each lot.

    To learn more about the auction and the reasons for it, read the full press release below:

    Plainville, CT – On Monday, October 4th, Winter Associates will offer for sale the John Griswold Ian Fleming-James Bond Collection. Griswold is the author of the 2005 publication, Ian Fleming’s James Bond: Annotations and Chronologies for Ian Fleming’s Bond Stories. In 1963, the release of Dr. No, the first James Bond movie, sparked John’s Griswold’s passion for Bond. The then ten-year-old Griswold soon became a fan of Ian Fleming’s series of novels. A native of Simsbury, CT, Griswold has continued to acquire Fleming and Bond-related items since the 1960s. Griswold’s diverse and extensive collection reflects his interest in the cultural impact made by Ian Fleming and the character of James Bond. This single-consignor collection is valued at almost $250,000 and is certain to delight Bond collectors all around the world.

    Griswold’s literary collection includes the fourteen first editions of Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels, a Fleming Centenary Edition published by the Queen Anne press (limited to an edition of 59), a first edition of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service signed by Fleming, as well as a 1907 book from Fleming’s own library along with its clamshell. The iconic image of Sean Connery holding a helmet and gun from You Only Live Twice painted by Robert McGinnis for the Bond movie posters is one of four original McGinnis works that Griswold once prominently displayed in his home but are now offered in this sale. Rare first-release posters, lobby cards, early toys, and signed photographs will round out the 280+ lot auction.

    On the sale of her husband’s collection, Debbie Griswold elaborates: “It is with sadness and nostalgia that I report that John’s health has declined significantly in the past two years. Early-onset Alzheimer’s has taken its toll on John, and he is no longer researching or collecting. As we move into the next chapter of our life, we must leave behind John’s collection. My hope is that John’s research materials and these items from the fascinating worlds of Ian Fleming and James Bond will bring the next owner/collector the same enjoyment and satisfaction that they brought to John.”

    CBn wishes the Griswold family all the best for the auction, as well as lots of strength and courage for the difficult times and challenges which they are facing.

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  7. MGM given seventh extension of debt forbearance

    By Kevin Wells on 2010-09-16

    MGM has received its seventh extension of debt forbearance from its lenders. The news was announced just as its sixth debt extension expired. The new expiration date is October 29. In prior cases news such as this has not been seen as a good thing as it has only prolonged MGM’s current predicament, however this time is different. “The lenders took this action in support of the company’s ongoing efforts to evaluate long-term strategic alternatives to maximize value for its stakeholders,” MGM said. “MGM appreciates the continued support of its lender group throughout this process.”

    MGM is expected to enter a prepackaged bankruptcy soon and re-emerge debt free by the end of October. Spyglass Entertainment’s co-heads Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum recently signed a letter of intent to run MGM where they will steer the company towards greater emphasis in scripted and reality television shows for cable TV.

    Recently Deadline reported that director Sam Mendes took himself out of the running to direct Suzanne Collins The Hunger Games because of MGM’s recent progress. The site further speculated that Bond 23 could potentially start shooting in late summer or fall 2011.

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  8. Spyglass signs letter of intent to run MGM

    By Kevin Wells on 2010-09-09

    Back in early August we reported that Spyglass Entertainment’s co-heads Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum were close to a deal to run MGM studios. A deal has apparently been struck now as Barber and Birnbaum have both signed a nonbinding letter of intent to take over management of the studio. To finalize the deal MGM’s debt holders and board of directors will have to approve it. Looking ahead it’s been reported that the co-heads of Spyglass have already had talks with Hollywood executive Ken Schapiro about becoming MGM’s chief operating officier.

    Once the deal is approved MGM will enter into a prepackaged bankruptcy sometime around the 15th of September when their latest debt waiver expires. This process should last approximately two months. Under the deal reported in August MGM’s creditors will forgive the studio’s $4 billion debt in exchange for the bulk of the restructured studio’s new equity.

    It is still unknown how soon any deal will effect the James Bond franchise. There has been numerous amounts of speculation as to whether MGM will continue to distribute films including future James Bond films. According to Deadline the franchise is hotly contested with Warner Bros, Sony Pictures Entertainment and 20th Century Fox all in the running as well as Paramount Pictures which is said to be making an “aggressive push” to capture Bond.

    Assuming financing becomes available Bond 23 could be back on track and start shooting in time for a 2012 release. Director Sam Mendes is currently prepping a screen adaptation of Ian McEwan’s novel On Chesil Beach while Daniel Craig was recently signed to star in the anticipated adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which will begin filming later this year. Craig is currently shooting Cowboys & Aliens, for which he has an option for a sequel.

    Keep watching for all the latest Bond 23 developments.

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  9. Chicagoland Entertainment Collectors Expo with 4 Bond Girls and Jaws

    By Athena Stamos on 2010-09-08

    Come out this weekend to Chicagoland Entertainment Collectors Expo in place in Carol Steam, IL! A handful of James Bond stars will be in attenece.

    • Martine Bestwicke (Zora, From Russia With Love & Paula Caplan, Thunderball)
    • Shirley Eaton (Jill Masterson, (Goldfinger)
    • Caroline Munro (Naomi, The Spy Who Loved Me)
    • Richard Kiel (Jaws, The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker)
    • Tanya Roberts (Stacey Sutton, A View To A Kill)

    Holiday Inn
    150 South Gary Avenue
    Carol Stream, IL
    630 665 3000

    Friday, September 10th from 2:00pm to 7:30pm
    Saturday, September 11th from 10:00am to 7:00pm
    Sunday, September 12th from 10:00am to 3:00pm

    Visit for further details.

  10. Report: Spyglass close to running MGM

    By Kevin Wells on 2010-08-10

    A report fresh from the Wall Street Journal states that Spyglass Entertainment’s co-heads Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum are close to a deal to run MGM Studios and that an official announcement on the deal could made as early as this week.

    Under the deal both Barber and Birnbaum would run MGM as co-chief executives after MGM concludes a prepackaged bankruptcy set to begin mid-September when its latest debt waiver expires. The paper claims that MGM hopes to exit bankruptcy after two months. Spyglass would also merge parts of its film library with the MGM library and receive a 4% stake in the reorganized MGM. Surprisingly, the deal would also see MGM’s creditors forgiving the studio’s $4 billion debt in exchange for the bulk of the restructured studio’s new equity. MGM is said to be valued at $1.9 billion.

    It’s unknown how this deal will immediately effect the James Bond franchise, if approved, though assuming financing becomes available Bond 23 could be back on track and start shooting in time for a late 2011 release. That is barring any major scheduling conflicts. Director Sam Mendes is currently prepping a screen adaptation of Ian McEwan’s novel On Chesil Beach while Daniel Craig was recently signed to star in the anticipated adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which will begin filming later this year. Craig is also currently shooting Cowboys & Aliens, for which he has an option for a sequel.

    A number of MGM productions have also stalled due to MGM’s financial problems, the biggest being Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit followed by Dan Bradley’s (second unit director on Quantum of Solace) Red Dawn remake that has been partially shot but remains unfinished.

    Keep watching for all the latest Bond 23 developments.

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