James Bond soon coming to an Apple screen near you?

Apple is in the race to acquire multi-billion-dollar film rights for the James Bond series according to a new report, in a move that shows how the digital big guns are increasingly targeting Hollywood.

In line with its ambition to improve its original video content production, Apple, along with a host of other contenders, is competing to win distribution rights for the franchise, which is reportedly valued at between $2 billion and $5 billion. Sony’s rights to the franchise expired following the release of Spectre in 2015.

The Hollywood Reporter has claimed that Warner Bros. remains the frontrunner and is still the most likely contender to win rights to the 007 franchise. However, Apple and Amazon are both prepared to spend somewhere “in the same ballpark” to pip Warner Bros. to the post. The 007 franchise valuation of $2 billion to $5 billion dwarfs Apple’s reported content budget of approximately $1 billion, but the tech giant appears undeterred.

Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg are leading the negotiations team for Apple, following the withdrawal of Sony. They have been tasked with leading Apple’s original content programme, and have successfully negotiated a co-production deal with Netflix to make The Crown, valued in excess of $100 million.

What exactly Apple wants to do with the Bond franchise remains unclear, since the deal could extend way beyond mere TV and movie ventures into app development and other forms of digital media.

Given Erlicht and Amburg’s background with Sony Pictures Television, Apple may intend to negotiate a more comprehensive rights package in future, or even buy full Bond ownership to make the most of the franchise’s hitherto unexplored television potential.

Apple is facing strong competition from Amazon, Sony Universal, Warner and Fox to win distribution rights to the series, but win-or-lose the move can only be taken as a statement of intent.

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