Rights valued at up to $5bn are considered to be underexploited and deal with either could also involve global TV broadcasting
Amazon and Apple have emerged as contenders to take on the multibillion-dollar distribution rights for the James Bond film franchise and could provide a new TV home for 007.
The rights, valued at between $2bn and $5bn (1.5bn-3.8bn), according to Hollywood Reporter, are considered to be underexploited in a world where blockbuster global intellectual property is in high demand.
Disney paid $4bn for Marvel in 2009 and the same amount for Lucasfilm, the home of Star Wars and Indiana Jones, in 2012, while Netflix last month acquired the comic book company Millarworld, the developer of Kick-Ass and Kingsman.
The contract, which includes co-financing and distribution, is being pursued by the usual Hollywood suspects including 21st Century Fox, Universal, Sony and the frontrunner, Warner Bros.
But the emergence of Apple and Amazon, which bought the US book rights to Ian Flemings James Bond novels in 2012, suggests MGM and Eon are considering a wider deal.
The TV rights are sold to broadcasters around the world, with Sky the first to get Bond movies in the UK, but an agreement with Apple or Amazon could change that, according to analysts.
Richard Broughton of Ampere said: If Warner wins, it will be business as normal, theyll sell on to other players in each market. If Amazon or Apple take the deal, they may not then sell on TV rights, instead using them themselves globally.
David Hancock, a film analyst at IHS Markit, said: We know that Bond works in cinemas, but [with] the way people consume films and the way the market is moving, there is merit in MGM/Eon looking at distribution and potentially a wider deal in a different way.
The emergence of Apple and Amazon suggests that an online or digital element of the deal is being considered far more seriously than it was two, three or five years ago.
For the makers of Bond, which is based and filmed at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire, theatrical releases remain the focus. Spectre, the 24th James Bond film, earned $880.7m globally.
Last month, Daniel Craig confirmed that he would return as James Bond in one final film out in 2019.
Last week, it emerged that Apple is looking at taking space in Californias Culver Studios, known for films such as Gone with The Wind and The Matrix, as it looks to underline its move to become a major player in TV and film.
Apple stunned Hollywood in June by recruiting Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg from Sony as its new TV chiefs. The pair have been responsible for striking a 100m co-production deal with Netflix to make The Crown, and have overseen production of hit shows including Breaking Bad and The Blacklist.
Amazon, which paid up to 150m to lure the former Top Gear presenters Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May, is estimated to spend about $4.5bn a year on its Prime Video service.
Netflix has committed $6.6bn to buying and creating TV programmes, and makes about 1,000 hours of its owns shows annually. HBO, the Sopranos and Game of Thrones maker, spends about $2bn a year.
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