Does Amazon own MGM? Amazon today officially closed its acquisition of MGM, making the Hollywood studio part of Amazon Prime Video and Amazon Studios.
The deal, valued at $8.45 billion, brings over MGM’s catalog of more than 4,000 film titles, 17,000 TV episodes and valuable IP including James Bond.
“MGM has a nearly century-long legacy of producing exceptional entertainment, and we share their commitment to delivering a broad slate of original films and television shows to a global audience,” said Mike Hopkins, senior vice president of Prime Video and Amazon Studios, in a statement. “We welcome MGM employees, creators, and talent to Prime Video and Amazon Studios, and we look forward to working together to create even more opportunities to deliver quality storytelling to our customers.”
Does Amazon own MGM?
When Amazon announced its plans to acquire MGM in May, the primary focus of discussion was what Amazon planned to do with the studio’s intellectual property. Spin-offs and reboots were one possibility cited by the company at the time. Who, it’s now worth wondering, will shepherd Amazon’s creative vision for the legacy movie-maker?
A new profile published this week in the New York Times on the creative brain trust behind the MGM brand offers a few clues about how the acquisition may look moving forward. Namely, it profiled Michael De Luca and Pamela Abdy, two of MGM’s top brass who have tasked themselves with reinvigorating the MGM brand. Key to their strategy, as De Luca described it to the Times, is “treating the filmmakers like the franchise.” Both seem to value high-caliber theatrical releases over the straight-to-streaming content churn.
But their approach to pumping blood back into MGM’s decaying legacy seems to counter Amazon’s own vision for the studio. Mike Hopkins, senior vice president of Prime Video and Amazon Studios, said in a statement at the time the acquisition was announced that the “financial value behind this deal is the treasure trove of IP in the deep catalog that we plan to reimagine and develop together with MGM’s talented team. It’s very exciting and provides so many opportunities for high-quality storytelling.”
Why Amazon is paying nearly $9 billion for MGM and James Bond
Short answers here: The media world is consolidating and there aren’t many targets left for a would-be acquirer. Amazon has spent many billions on video without much to show for it, and thinks owning a studio — and, crucially, the rights to the intellectual property the studio owns — could help it create Really Big Movies and TV Shows You Really Want to Watch. Not so much because it wants to own streaming, but because it wants you to keep coming to Amazon. MGM, meanwhile, has been trying to sell itself for years.
And the way regulators respond to this will be fascinating: Amazon will claim that it’s too small in video for this to pose a competitive threat. On the other hand, Amazon is already in regulators’ cross-hairs. In theory that’s for running a marketplace and selling its own items in the same marketplace, but really just for being so … big. So this is akin to waving a red flag in front of the likes of Sen. Amy Klobuchar and daring her to charge.
Now that we’re done with the CliffsNotes, a little context about Amazon and Hollywood, which remains one of the weirder media stories of the last decade:
Amazon has been making and buying its own TV shows and movies since 2013 — the same year Netflix got into streaming its own stuff with House of Cards. But you probably don’t remember Amazon’s first shows — Alpha House? Betas? — and you probably can’t think of many Amazon shows at all, except for Transparent and a few others. Which gives you a sense of how all over the place Amazon’s efforts to break into Hollywood have been, despite the fact that Jeff Bezos has spent a lot to make it happen.
Bezos is still trying, though: Amazon is sinking at least half a billion dollars into a Lord of the Rings TV show, and $10 billion over 10 years to show an NFL game once a week. And now, probably, another $9 billion for MGM.
So does that mean Amazon is finally getting ready to take on the streaming heavyweights — Netflix, Disney, and maybe WarnerMedia/Discovery?
Amazingly, the answer is no: The company is indeed more serious than ever about video. But it’s playing a different game than the “real” streamers. Amazon doesn’t want to compete with Netflix or the other biggies for watch time and subscriber dollars. It just wants you to watch some video and spend some money.
What Amazon’s Purchase of MGM Means for James Bond
Say goodbye to the studio era and hello to the streaming conglomerate era. In a blockbuster business deal, Amazon has purchased Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), the storied Hollywood studio that gave us iconic tentpoles of cinematic history like Gone With the Wind, Doctor Zhivago, and The Wizard of Oz, among many others.
First thing’s first: Amazon’s motives for outbidding Comcast and Apple in the sale of MGM are clear. Long lagging behind flagship streamers like Netflix and Hulu in the streaming wars, with billions of dollars invested in original programming and not many hits to show for it, Amazon is looking to take its film and television game to the next level. Mining existing intellectual property, no matter the hefty price tag, is a growth strategy Amazon can handily afford, with a potentially enormous payoff. The Bond movies have taken in over $5 billion at the global box office, and stand to continue earning major cash.
“The real financial value behind this deal is the treasure trove of IP in the deep catalog that we plan to reimagine and develop together with MGM’s talented team. It’s very exciting and provides so many opportunities for high-quality storytelling,” said Mike Hopkins, senior vice president of Prime Video and Amazon Studios, in announcing the deal.
MGM owns countless desirable franchises, like Rocky and Legally Blonde, but the jewel in the studio’s crown is undoubtedly the marquee James Bond franchise, a massively profitable and fiercely guarded piece of intellectual property. But just what does this $8.45 billion deal mean for the future of Bond? It’s too early to say, but one thing’s for sure: don’t expect a sudden glut of Bond movies.
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