Five studios have entered into a bidding war over the rights to the next James Bond film

Owners of the franchise are considering Bond's future since their contract with Sony expired

Five films studios are currently battling it out in a bidding war over the rights to the next James Bond movie.

MGM and Eon, the companies that control the rights to the films, are taking pitches from several big studios, according to The New York Times.

Since 2006, and starting with ‘Casino Royale’, the series of spy films have been based at Sony Pictures Entertainment.

But Sony’s contract to market and distribute the film expired in 2015 with the release of ‘Spectre’ and the two companies that control the franchise have began considering offers for the rights.

Warner Bros., Universal Pictures, 20th Century Fox and smaller company Ananpurna have all been competing with Sony for the rights.

According to The New York Times, MGM and Eon will only be offering a one-film contract compared to Sony’s recent four-film deal.

Casting for the franchise and the next film is said to have not been discussed in the meetings, but The New York Times reports that producers are hoping that Daniel Craig will return for another film.

Recent odds have put Michael Fassbender and James Norton as the front runners of the actors tipped to potentially replace Daniel Craig, while ex-Bond Pierce Brosnan has said he wants Daniel Craig to return.

Craig is now the second longest serving Bond of all time having spent over 4000 days as the character. The 49-year-old has been with the franchise since Sony’s first outing with ‘Casino Royale’ in 2006 and has reprised his role for a further three times, most recently in 2015’s ‘Spectre.’