EXCLUSIVE: Eon Productions and MGM have set distribution plans for James Bond 25. The most hotly sought after film franchise in recent memory has been won by Universal Pictures for international as well as for home entertainment, sources said. Domestic distribution will be handled by MGM and Annapurna through the joint venture they signed last year. The 25th installment of James Bond will first be released in the UK on October 25, 2019, and in the U.S. on November 8, 2019. Production begins December 3.

The deal was just closed by EON’s Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, MGM chairman of the board of directors Kevin Ulrich, MGM Motion Pictures Group president Jon Glickman and Universal Pictures chairman Donna Langley. It puts the MGM logo front and center as distributor on a Bond film for the first time in nearly two decades.

Danny Boyle John Hodge
Boyle and Hodge
REX/Shutterstock

As expected, Daniel Craig is back for his fifth film as 007, and Oscar-winner Danny Boyle is now set to direct a film that his Trainspotting partner John Hodge scripted based on an idea by Boyle, as Deadline revealed back in February. MGM and Danjaq weighed several directors, but then Boyle had his great idea and said he would direct, only if his concept was the one they went with. He had Hodge write a script that pleased everybody. Search over.

The international rights had attracted just about every major studio after longtime 007 distributor Sony’s deal expired with 2015’s Spectre. Sony was in the mix, Warner Bros chased it hard as did Paramount and pretty much every other studio but perhaps Disney. While the distribution fee is expected to be on the modest side, landing the James Bond franchise is an enormous “get” for Universal and Comcast. It is among the biggest global franchises and comes at a time when those are more prized than ever, and when scale is everything. It is also important because international is where 007 traditionally earns most of its grosses.

The domestic deal through the MGM and Annapurna joint venture seemed likely when that arrangement had been announced, and Deadline revealed the 007 film was going to land that way last November. The film goes out under the MGM label. MGM also retains digital and worldwide television distribution rights. That is potentially a big boost for its EPIX premium channel.

The studios confirmed the deals to Deadline.

Wilson and Broccoli commented, “We are delighted to announce that the exceptionally talented Danny Boyle will be directing Daniel Craig in his fifth outing as James Bond in the 25th installment of the franchise. We will begin shooting Bond 25 at Pinewood Studios in December with our partners at MGM and thrilled that Universal will be our international distributor.”

“Under the leadership of Michael and Barbara, we couldn’t be more thrilled than to bring the next 007 adventure to the big screen uniting the incomparable Daniel Craig with the extraordinary vision of Danny Boyle,” said Ulrich. Glickman added, “It has been 16 years since Die Another Day was distributed by MGM and it’s incredibly gratifying to be releasing this film alongside the powerhouse team at Universal.”

“Universal is extremely proud to collaborate with Michael, Barbara and MGM on the international marketing and distribution of Bond 25,” said Langley. “The unparalleled combination of Danny’s innovative filmmaking and Daniel’s embodiment of 007 ensured we simply had to be partners in the next chapter of this iconic series.”