Sony Pictures could lose its “licence to kill” after the new James Bond film, Spectre, is released this November.

The company currently co-finances and distributes the Bond series to cinemas under an agreement with film-makers Metro Goldwyn-Mayer – but the deal expires this year.

Sony chairman Tom Rothman told Variety he expected a fierce battle.

“Sure we’re going to compete for [the rights] but, let’s be honest, so is everybody in the business,” he said.

Quoting unnamed “insiders”, Variety said Warner Bros was Sony’s chief rival for the film franchise.

MGM and Warners have a close working relationship after teaming up for Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy.

But Sony can claim to have helped 2012’s Skyfall become the biggest Bond film in history, with box office takings of $1.1bn (£716m).

Spectre, which reunites Daniel Craig with Skyfall director Sam Mendes, is currently filming in the UK.

Streets around Trafalgar Square and Whitehall were closed on Saturday night as Craig shot scenes in a car with Ralph Fiennes, who plays M.

Speedboat scenes have also been shot on the River Thames, while the production has visited Morocco, Austria, Italy and Mexico, where Bond was filmed amidst the country’s Day of the Dead carnival.

Spectre will be released worldwide on 6 November 2015.

“Hopefully we’ll do as good a job as we did on the last one,” Rothman told Variety, stressing Skyfall’s box office was “by far and away the highest that any Bond had ever done”.