Apple, Amazon in running to snatch up James Bond film rights: report

A deal for distribution rights to the Bond films could be valued as high as $5 billion. (jamesbond.com)

Apple and Amazon have reportedly emerged as suitors for the rights to distribute the James Bond film franchise and could challenge frontrunner Warner Bros.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Apple is willing to spend as much if not more than Warner Bros. for the rights, and Apple’s emergence has cause Warner Bros. to begin pushing MGM to finalize a deal.

The report says that Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg, the two Sony Pictures Television executives Apple lured away in June, are personally leading the charge at Apple for the James Bond rights, and that their involvement indicates Apple may be after a larger deal that would allow the company to explore TV adaptations for Bond.

RELATED: Apple set a $1B programming budget for the year, report says

As the report points out, a deal for distribution rights to the Bond films could be valued as high as $5 billion. A deal of that size would be substantial even for a company with as deep of pockets as Apple, which has reportedly set a $1 billion budget for programming purchases this year.

Of course, Amazon is also capable of shelling out large sums of money for content rights. The company is estimated to be spending $4.5 billion this year on original programming, and that figure could rise higher considering Amazon Prime Video’s international growth.

Jefferies analyst Brian Fitzgerald estimated that Amazon’s video content budget for 2016 was between $4 billion and $5 billion, but that the cost of international expansion to nearly 200 countries could drive that total up another $1 billion to $2 billion in 2017.

“That would bring AMZN's annual content expenditure in line with Netflix, which disclosed ~$6B content budget on P&L basis for 2017. AMZN management highlighted on the last earnings call that content was among the top three categories in which the company was, and planned to continue, investing. On the call, CFO Oslavsky said that ‘video content and marketing associated with that’ was nearly doubling Y/Y in 2H16,” Fitzgerald said in a research note.