MGM Says James Bond Rights Still Up in the Air, Boasts Strong Q3 After Epix Acquisition

Studio boss Gary Barber says company is still talking to several distributors about upcoming Bond film

MGM’s foray into premium television helped it to a strong third quarter, but the independent studio still hasn’t landed on a home for the 25th James Bond film.

For the three months ended September 30, MGM reported $267.7 million in revenue and $90.8 million in adjusted EBITDA, or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, a common measure of profitability.

That compares with the revenue of $298.7 million and adjusted EBITDA of $53.1 million the company reported for the corresponding quarter of last year. The company’s media networks division — essentially premium cable network Epix, which MGM bought for $1 billion earlier this year — contributed $114 million of that revenue.

On a conference call discussing the earnings, MGM CEO Gary Barber said the company is still in talks with several distributors for the 25th Bond movie, but had not yet settled on a partner.

The last four installments in the franchise were distributed by Sony, but MGM last month signed a deal with Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures for a joint marketing and distribution venture covering much of MGM’s film slate starting in 2018.

“Distribution plans for Bond 25 still have not been announced and we are continuing discussions with a variety of potential partners,” Barber said on the call. “We look forward to sharing more details on Bond 25 on future calls.”

Also on the film side, MGM announced in September that it is relaunching Orion Pictures, with Maria Bello’s “Every Day” set to hit theaters in February. The company’s theatrical revenue jumped 49 percent compared with the previous quarter, but at just $2.9 million, wasn’t a big contributor to the overall picture.

The company’s television licensing revenue for film content fell 39 percent year-over-year, largely due to distribution revenue realized last year from “Spectre” and “Creed” that did not have an equivalent this season. Licensing revenue for TV content also dipped 68 percent, reflecting the timing of deliveries of some of its most popular shows like “The Voice” and “Survivor.”

During the quarter, MGM also acquired Evolution Film & Tape, which produces reality hits like “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” and “Vanderpump Rules,” for $24 million plus an additional earnout for the sellers, as it continues to expand its reality TV business under MGM Television President and pioneer of the genre Mark Burnett.