Hilarious Exaggeration of the Day: The James Bond Franchise is Worth $1.5 Billion


Things were going so well for Ron Grover in his piece about MGM's slow plunge toward insolvency. There was the news that the studio's creditors declined an equity stake in the company as part of its restructuring, and then, once again, there were those mind-blowing figures we're so used to reading in any discussion of MGM's flagging fortunes: $3.7 billion in debt, with the creditors balking at another $1.2 billion in new debt to help get the studio's production slate going. Instead, they want a buyer -- and they're not above selling the Lion for parts, including The Hobbit, the vast film library and the James Bond franchise. Which is where it gets a little tricky.

According to Grover's report, recently installed studio CEO Stephen Cooper expressed doubt that he could "get more than $1.5 billion for the studio, which is roughly what MGM's rights to the James Bond franchise alone might be worth." That stat isn't attributed to any specific valuation data or comparables, but let's just say the number, like its source, is probably high.

Not that you can't appreciate a little modest inflation in the press to help get the bidding started behind the scenes. Still: $1.5 billion? The last five Bond films grossed a combined $2.3 billion globally, which sounds great until you realize it took 11 years to generate it and MGM only keeps roughly half of it. Add on maybe another $50-$80 million annually going forward based on when a new DVD is released (and whatever other reissues you've got), and you're still waiting almost a generation to turn a actual profit -- by which time you've recast the role at least twice, and who knows if a 60-year-old franchise can even work. Nothing's come close. Of course, this all would also imply that the studio -- which was valued at $5 billion in 2004 -- has lost all of its value outside the Bond franchise, which seems like more than a stretch for an institution with more than 4,000 movies sitting in its vault.

So what's Bond really worth? Who knows? $500 million? $600 million? As suggested last week with another high-gloss Hollywood franchise on the block, throw it on eBay and find out. Anything that preserves MGM's magnificent Hot Tub Time Machine for a timely January release is worth it.

· MGM Creditors Press for an Auction [BusinessWeek]


  • bmcintire says:

    I'm pretty certain that a purchase of the Bond franchise would also give the buyer rights to distribute the existing catalog of 21+ Bond titles (including the original CASINO ROYALE and NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN).
    For worldwide television and home entertainment, that is an enormous cash-cow. $1.5B is a high figure, but it's not as ridiculously far off as you are painting it.

  • FrancoisTrueFaux says:

    And here I thought $30B for NBCU was ridic. . .

  • I'd pay $1.5 billion for Daniel Craig to let me lick his Thunderballs, tickle his GoldenEye, play with his Goldfinger, and have him ravage my Octopussy. For that kind of money, even The Man With Golden Gun couldn't be Dr. No. And I mean, what is a billion here or that when You Only Live Twice? After all, it's Diamonds Are Forever, not us.

  • Zombie says:

    I think they were taking into account the scene where Daniel Craig emerges in his Speedo.

  • Juancho says:

    I have to agree with you, it's definitely the large diamond in whatever stone setting they have. Every few years (and/or distribution format) the whole damn series gets a sales bump with a remaster, box, or special features, in addition to the same happening when a new Bond film actually hits theaters. (Not to mention the Craig or whomever most recent titles really getting a push.) Those Connerys have paid for themselves so many times, it's probably stunning. T
    here's a reason why MGM was able to lease out its home video catalog rights to WB; it was so damned attractive profit-wise. They've always been in the courting process of some potential buyer or another due to the fact that they actually own the negs and theatrical rights; it's too tantalizing a carrot to dangle, what with the remake possibilities alone.
    It's kind of ironic that Spielberg/Dreamworks never ended up at MGM (or more aptly, UA), in terms of Old Hollywood grandeur, he often thought that he resembled Victor Fleming more than anyone else.

  • Monica Dickey says:

    Poor MGM.
    Really though as BMC pointed out the franchise could easily be worth 1.5 billion if thought of as an investment when you factor in the worth of the entire franchise and not just how much the past couple of films have made.
    Daniel Craig makes a good Bond and has breathed some new life into the franchise, and it's classic enough to keep making money in the future.

  • logan says:

    Whoever wrote this knows so very little about the industry, you shouldn't have wasted your time or ours.
    There are many, MANY revenue streams spun off this franchise beyond it's mere box office receipts. Merchandising, PPV, inline advertising, re-broadcast on Premium, Basic and network, video games and on and on.
    Just because you read an article today that interests you doesn't mean you have any insight to add. Clearly you don't.

  • SomeGuy says:

    Just looking at the 5 most recent films is short-sighted. First, it would include the entire catalog going back to Dr. No, so that's worth something (although I don't believe the original Casino Royale is owned by MGM, not a big loss on that one). Second, it would also allow the buyer to continue to make Bond movies, and build on the existing value of the Bond brand. Also realize that it would include the royalties and ancillary rights to all current and future games, toys and other merchandise A film's value is more than just the motion picture itself. I would suggest that $1.5billion might undervalue the franchise a little. Producing and releasing 1 or 2 new Bond movies (along with merchandise and games), plus the current income from the existing properties, would likely cover that $1.5b fairly easily.

  • just what goes up, ought to come down?

  • now see, this sort of stuff really doesn't make sense

  • Sergio Hehn says:

    This is nice! How did you learn about this when you were first getting into it?

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  • Tim Hargis says:

    Definitely the exaggeration of the day... I think the last couple Bond films have been great personally and have helped boost the image of the franchise but like you said, I'm not sure how long they can hold out for. Sounds like a really long term investment, and waiting that long to see actual profit looks risky in this situation.

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