LOS ANGELES: Several major Hollywood studios are currently negotiating to secure the distribution rights for the James Bond movie franchise, but it has emerged that Amazon and Apple are also in hot pursuit.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, industry sources have revealed that the two tech giants are prepared to spend the same, if not much more, than Warner Bros for the rights.

Estimated to be valued at between $2bn and $5bn, the rights are controlled by MGM and Eon Productions and have been up for grabs ever since Sony’s distribution deal expired after the release of Spectre in 2015.

Both Amazon and Apple have been increasing their activity in new movies – for example, Amazon secured a deal in July to distribute its first film, Woody Allen’s Wonder Wheel.

And Hollywood Reporter’s sources also pointed to Apple’s recent hiring of Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht, two former co-presidents of Sony Pictures Television, who are said to be spearheading Apple’s efforts.

It is further reported that they could be interested in securing a bigger deal that includes potential TV rights, which would fit in with observations that the 007 franchise has been too focused on cinema theatres over its 55-year history.

A person “familiar with the bidding process” told the Hollywood Reporter that “in the world of Lucasfilm and Marvel, Bond feels really underdeveloped”, in reference to Bond’s intellectual property potential.

Commenting on the development to the Guardian, 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.”

Data sourced from Hollywood Reporter, Guardian; additional content by WARC staff