EXCLUSIVE: In a move sure to make the Lion purr, MGM and Annapurna are thisclose to announcing they will team on the domestic release of the next James Bond movie. This all should be finalized this week, and rumors are flying today. This follows the announcement that MGM was joining forces with Annapurna in a joint venture, and the way this 007 deal will work is MGM’s Gary Barber and producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson are calling the shots, with Erik Lomis executing the domestic distribution and Marc Weinstock the marketing for the domestic release. While some might be surprised the historically conservative producers would entrust the crown jewel to a relative newcomer like Annapurna, Lomis worked on the distribution of Bond films before at MGM, and Weinstock marketed two of them while at Sony Pictures.

The move helps MGM (which controls about half of the Bond franchise) to slowly but surely take control of its destiny and have its most enduring relationship in distribution since Barber pulled the studio out of bankruptcy and disbanded its distribution operation years ago. This confirms what Deadline predicted could happen late last month when MGM Annapurna launched a joint venture for theatrical distribution in the U.S.

This is just one of the pieces that has to fall into place. Those producers might put faith in Annapurna in domestic, but not beyond that in a company that has to build offshore distribution and ancillary operations from the ground up. There are still major decisions to be made on both international distribution and ancillary distribution, the latter of which long had been administered by Fox in a deal that is expiring.

The big battle is for overseas distribution and Warner Bros, Sony and Universal are still battling hard. Bond generates just over 70% of its overall box office revenues offshore, so that is the deal everyone is trying to win.

The film will be released November 8, 2019. Daniel Craig has made a deal to return and fill out his contract, which expires after the next film.

The other major decision is, who will direct the film after Sam Mendes parted company after directing Skyfall and Spectre. As Deadline revealed in July, the three frontrunners to direct the next James Bond movie are Yann Demange, Denis Villeneuve and David Mackenzie. Demange directed ’71, an electric 2014 thriller that starred Jack O’Connell as a British soldier left behind the lines in Northern Ireland after dark, who struggles to get safe. He has been engaged in White Boy Rick, with Matthew McConaughey leading the ensemble. Villeneuve just released Blade Runner 2049 and is developing the Dune remake at Legendary. Mackenzie, who directed Best Picture nominee Hell or High Water, is helming for Netflix Outlaw King, the story of Scottish king Robert the Bruce, who most know from Braveheart.

Sony Pictures has been the longtime home for Bond, and has been in the mix but sources said the studio has been informed that domestic will not go their way.