The Hollywood studio behind James Bond held talks with Apple and Netflix about releasing No Time To Die directly to streaming following repeated delays in its release, reports have claimed.
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's latest installment in the spy franchise could fetch hundreds of millions of dollars in a sale to streaming platforms.
However, MGM declined to comment on any talks and said No Time To Die was “not for sale”.
“The film’s release has been postponed until April 2021 in order to preserve the theatrical experience for moviegoers,” a spokesman said.
Netflix and Apple declined to comment, while Amazon Studios said it was not in talks to acquire the film.
The MGM feature was originally due to be released in cinemas in April, but it was delayed until November after the pandemic forced their closure.
Even though cinemas have begun to reopen, customers have been slow to return and studios have been reluctant to release their biggest pictures. Earlier this month, No Time to Die was pushed back again until April 2021.
Winning the rights to No Time to Die would have been a major coup for a streaming service and could have helped entice subscribers looking to watch the latest Bond movie.
The Daniel Craig film, which cost about $250m to produce, would be the most notable movie to switch to streaming due to the pandemic, though other films have taken a similar route.
Horror film Antebellum launched on premium home video last month, while Mulan debuted on Disney+ for an extra $30 fee. Apple also landed the movie Greyhound starring Tom Hanks that debuted in July.
AMC, the owner of Odeon cinema, moved to ban Universal movies in April after the studio agreed to release films to cinemas and streaming services at the same time.
That included Trolls World Tour, which was offered to video on demand platforms instead of being handed an exclusive run at cinemas.
Meanwhile, the chief executive of the Curzon cinema chain called on movie theatres to brush aside "outdated" business models and get behind streaming services.
Philip Knatchbull told the Financial Times the coronavirus crisis had “released an enormous pent-up demand for change that had been held up by outdated business models predicated on a large number of admissions".
The cinema industry would be significantly smaller but "healthier" once the pandemic subsided, he added.
It is not the first time American tech companies have circled James Bond, with Amazon and Apple reportedly weighing bids for the distribution rights to the film franchise three years ago.
The rights to the Bond back catalogue, which are owned by MGM and Eon and include The Man with the Golden Gun and Dr No, were valued at up to $5bn in 2017.