MGM Close to 'Bond' Distribution Deal with Sony

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Daniel Craig

Paramount declined to go below an 8% fee to release the 23rd Bond film, which will again star Daniel Craig and is to be directed by Sam Mendes.

MGM appears to be nearing a deal with Sony Pictures to release its upcoming James Bond film after talks with Paramount broke down, according to sources familiar with the negotiations. But the situation remains complicated for MGM, struggling to rebuild after bankruptcy.

The studio had hoped to convince Fox to renew its video deal with Fox Home Entertainment, which expires later this year. But a source says Fox is uninterested in extending that agreement without the Bond film.

Though MGM's new chiefs Roger Birnbaum and Gary Barber are close to the top Paramount executives, Bond producer Barbara Broccoli is on good terms with Sony's Amy Pascal after the studio released the last two Bond films, 2006's Casino Royale and 2008's Quantum of Solace.

According to a studio source, Paramount declined to go below an 8% distribution fee for the Bond film and also rebuffed MGM's request to partner on one of its summer films, such as the next Transformers installment, opening July 1, or Super 8 from J.J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg. MGM was determined to get involved with an ongoing project to keep cash flowing into its depleted coffers as it emerges from bankruptcy -- as well as other unspecified projects in the future.

While it appears that Sony has met MGM's terms, it is unclear which of its upcoming films it will share with MGM. One possibility is the big-budget live action/CGI family pic The Smurfs, set to release in August, or David Fincher's remake of Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, or others. 

Still untitled, the 23rd Bond film, once again starring Daniel Craig, is to be directed by Sam Mendes with a targeted Nov. 9, 2012 release date.