Following Amazon's recent multi-billion-dollar purchase of MGM, fans have been left wondering what the company will do with some of the studio's hugely recognizable franchises, including the likes of James Bond. Well, one of the writers behind such 007 outings as Spectre and the critically acclaimed Skyfall, John Logan, has some concerns.
John Logan describes MGM as a "family business that has been carefully nurtured and shepherded through the changing times," highlighting the creative importance of Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson. While he feels reassured that they will still have creative control over the property, Logan is not sure that will be the case for too long...
"What happens if a bruising corporation like Amazon begins to demand a voice in the process? What happens to the comradeship and quality control if there's an Amazonian overlord with analytics parsing every decision? What happens when a focus group reports they don't like Bond drinking martinis? Or killing quite so many people? And that English accent's a bit alienating, so could we have more Americans in the story for marketability?"
With modern blockbuster filmmaking lurching heavily towards shared cinematic universes, with both the Marvel Cinematic Universe and now Star Wars showing how financially successful these can be, the writer behind Skyfall fears that Amazon will eventually take 007 in this same direction, removing everything about the property that makes it unique.
"Bond is allowed to provoke, grow and be idiosyncratic. Long may that continue. James Bond has survived the Cold War, Goldfinger, Jaws, disco, and Ernst Stavro Blofeld, several times. And I can only hope that the powers that be at Amazon recognize the uniqueness of what they just acquired and allow and encourage this special family business to continue unobstructed."
The screenwriter goes on to point out how Broccoli and Wilson have kept the James Bond franchise focused, resisting any temptation to turn it into "content" or "a mere commodity," and thus allowing the character to continue alone as he always has, without getting tangled up in any shared universe strings. With a corporation like Amazon now owning half of the franchise though, Logan is not convinced this will always be the case, particularly when Amazon are not known for being a "creator-first" enterprise.
"In the context of the larger company, Amazon Prime Video is not chiefly about artists. It's about attracting and retaining customers. And when bigger companies start having a say in iconic characters or franchises, the companies tend to want more, not better, and the quality differential can vary wildly, project to project."
Amazon have now merged with MGM in a deal that has seen the company pay a reported $8.45 billion for the struggling studio, meaning that the Jeff Bezos-led company now own the rights to several highly recognizable movie and television franchises.
No doubt there will be a mixed response to the idea of a James Bond shared universe, but before we see what Amazon plans to do with the iconic character, audiences still have yet to see Daniel Craig's final outing in No Time to Die. Picking up five years after the capture of Ernst Stavro Blofeld, James Bond has now left active service. He is approached by his friend and CIA officer Felix Leiter, who enlists his help in the search for Valdo Obruchev, a missing scientist. When it becomes apparent that Obruchev has been abducted, Bond must confront a villain whose schemes could see the death of millions.
No Time to Die will still have a theatrical release as planned despite the Amazon buyout, with the movie scheduled for release on 30 September 2021 in the United Kingdom and 8 October 2021 in the United States. NYTimes.com brought us this news first.