When The James Bond Franchise Will End, According To Barbara Broccoli

In the shocking climax to 2021's "No Time to Die," James Bond finally shuffled off this mortal coil. I say "shuffled" as if it were a humble and dignified affair, but what I really mean is, went out in a blaze of... well, glory isn't the right word. Perhaps "entirely unnecessary and gratuitous grandiosity" would be a better phrase? Either way, Bond died for the first time on-screen since 1962's "Dr. No," the film that kicked off cinema's most enduring franchise. Pummeled by a barrage of ballistics, Daniel Craig's version of 007 is well and truly gone, and the hunt for the next Bond actor has begun.

All we know so far is that the new Bond definitely won't be Taron Egerton, but an official announcement regarding who will wield the famous Walther PPK next is surely imminent. Otherwise, the future of the character is as uncertain as it's ever been — not necessarily because Bond is in danger of disappearing, but because anything seems possible at this point.

Not only is Amazon now partially in control of the super spy's destiny after acquiring MGM in 2021, 007 has now perished before our very eyes, suggesting the producers are pretty much up for trying anything. At this point, the character has been a cultural mainstay for 60 years, so it's unlikely he'll disappear. Quite the opposite, he could well form the basis of yet another accursed cinematic universe if Amazon has its way with him. But what if the unthinkable happened, and Bond disappeared from pop culture entirely? How would that happen? When could it happen? Is it really a possibility? Well, just like with most things behind the scenes of Bond, that's all uncertain.

The situation as it is

Since Amazon's acquisition of MGM, Jeff Bezos' multinational behemoth now owns distribution rights to the Bond movies and the rights to previous films in the series. But that doesn't mean the company has complete control of 007 going forward. MGM had co-ownership of the James Bond movie rights, along with Danjaq LLC — the holding company set up by original Bond producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman. Danjaq is responsible for the James Bond copyrights and trademarks, and Eon Productions, which has made Bond movies since 1962's "Dr. No," sits under the Danjaq umbrella.

All of which is to say that, since acquiring MGM, Amazon will have distribution rights to the Bond films going forward, but the creative decisions will mostly be handled by Eon Productions, which is run by Albert R. Broccoli's daughter, Barbara, and her half brother Michael G. Wilson. Eon has been a strict custodian of Bond since he first hit the big screen, and will retain tight control going forward, even as Bezos and co. make their attempts to give 007 the cinematic universe treatment. The Amazon owner said during a 2021 shareholder meeting that MGM's back catalog was part of his reasoning for making the deal, adding, "We can reimagine and redevelop that IP for the 21st century." But because Amazon only owns 50% of Bond, the company can't just start churning out whatever 007-related dross it likes. Both Barbara Broccoli and Wilson have already nixed the idea of a Bond TV show, saying they "make films for the cinema." Then again, they reportedly gave their blessing to a James Bond competition show, so who knows...

But if Broccoli and Wilson remain in charge, and Amazon is merely along for the ride (for now), where do the producers see Bond going?

'Bond is part of the culture'

Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson have been overseeing the Bond saga since 1995's "GoldenEye" and have been fiercely protective of the franchise during that period, even as Bond has evolved with the times. Back in 2015, the New York Times reported that "Broccoli and Wilson have final say over every line of dialogue, every casting decision, every stunt sequence, every marketing tie-in, every TV ad, poster and billboard." And since Amazon's acquisition of MGM, Broccoli told Variety that Eon was still "committed to continuing to make James Bond films for the worldwide theatrical audience." So don't expect a bunch of Marvel Disney+-style streaming fare in the near future.

But what exactly will the future of Bond look like? In Matthew Field and Ajay Chowdhury's 2015 book, "Some Kind of Hero: The Remarkable Story of the James Bond Films," the authors spoke to Broccoli and Wilson about whether the 007 franchise could ever, conceivably, come to an end. Broccoli remained optimistic, saying, "As long as the audience wants to see the films they will be made by us, or by some version of our descendants." Wilson was even more sanguine about things, saying "Bond will go on. Who is to say who will be making the movies? He's a fictitious character that is part of the culture, so he's like Sherlock Holmes or Batman. There will always be a Bond."

But what about those descendants that Broccoli mentioned? The longtime Bond producer is now 63, and Wilson is 81, so there's got to be someone in the wings waiting to continue the Eon Legacy and keep Bezos and co. at bay. Thankfully, there is.

The heirs to Bond

As Matthew Field and Ajay Chowdhury note, there are several Broccoli and Wilson family members who have already been brought into the Bond fold. Michael Wilson's son, Gregg, was an associate producer on 2012's "Skyfall," 2015's "Spectre," and "No Time to Die," and has been active in the world of Bond for some time, telling Digital Spy back in 2012 that it would be a "dream" to have Christopher Nolan direct a 007 outing — something Nolan still seems up for in 2023.

Michael Wilson also told FIeld and Chowdhury, "My other son, David, is on the top floor, working on independent projects and the video games. My niece Heather, Tina's daughter [works in publicity]. So we have a good representation of the family here."

Barbara Broccoli is also keeping things in the family. As she revealed to the authors, her daughter, Angelica Zollo, has "asked me a couple of times, 'Am I supposed to take over from you guys?' And I've said, 'You do what you want, girl!'" However, in a 2021 interview, Zollo had this to say:

"[The Bond franchise] is definitely something I love and I am proud of. [...] I've done little jobs and I've spent a lot of time with my mom watching but I can't ever do what they have done. It's a huge thing and it's pretty intimidating. I want to do my own thing and [Barbara Broccoli] has been super supportive but who knows, maybe one day!"

For now, it seems Wilson's sons are at least firmly invested in Bond even while Broccoli's daughter remains unsure. But either way, Wilson is right in his assessment that 007 "is part of the culture." It seems unlikely we'll ever see the end of 007 on-screen, even if Albert Broccoli's descendants aren't involved.