The Times of India summed up its take on the news that an Indian investor would be taking a major stake in the struggling MGM studio. “Mera naam hai Baand, James Baand”, is how Mr Bond’s introduction might work in Hindi. Whether the global entertainment community will be shaken or stirred by these reports is yet to be measured.
But the offer is real enough, and sees Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM), the bankrupt US movie studio, may soon be “gone with the wind” to India. Lucknow-based Sahara India Parivar has made a 2 billion dollar bid to buy the debt of the studio with liabilities to the tune of $4 billion. Both sides have confirmed the development to the media, but the deal it is still a work in progress and details are sketchy.
“Discussions are on, but it is too early to comment on the issue,” MGM told the Financial Times. In India, Sahara also confirmed the interest but did not offer more detail. The great studio, which was founded in 1924, and produced such classics as the Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind, is a whimpering shadow of its former self, and is neck deep in debt. It recently received another extension on an agreement to put off interest payments on about 4 billion dollars in debt until October 29.
The studio is part-owned by the Broccoli family, producers of the James Bond movie series. If the deal goes through, word is that Barbara Broccoli and her stepbrother Michael Wilson, who took over from the late Albert ‘Cubby‘ Broccoli, would receive an undisclosed equity stake in the new company.
It could also change the face and the accent of arguably the celluloid world’s most recognizable fictional character whose heroics hasn’t been able to rescue the studio that creates him for screen. In fact, the situation is so dire that early this year, EON Productions, the James Bond production company controlled by Broccoli and Wilson, said they would suspend development on the next 007 movie, 23rd in the series, which was previously scheduled for release in late 2011. “Due to the continued uncertainty surrounding the future of MGM and the failure to close a sale of the studio, we have suspended development on Bond 23 indefinitely,” EON said then in a statement. If Sahara India Parivaar ends up sheltering MGM, James Bond or James Baand if you wish, may find a new voice and identity.