Hollywood has another major merger on its hands. If Disney’s acquisition of Fox was one of the most seismic shifts in the studio system for decades, there’s another rumble in the cinematic landscape: Amazon has bought legendary 97-year-old studio MGM, aka Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, for a grand sum of $8.45 billion. It’s a deal that’s been brewing for a little while, but it it’s now official with a “definitive merger agreement” – and it means that some of the biggest film franchises ever will now come under Amazon’s purview, including James Bond and Rocky.
There are plenty of questions around the deal – like how quickly it’ll take effect, the extent to which it might affect upcoming releases and distribution models, and whether MGM will continue as a label similarly to Disney’s ‘20th Century Studios’ arm. But what it does mean is that Amazon Studios will have access to major film and TV properties – beyond Bond and Rocky (and, by extension, Creed), there’s also Tomb Raider, Robocop, The Pink Panther, the Legally Blonde movies, Silence Of The Lambs, The Handmaid’s Tale, Fargo, and Vikings. “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,” says Mike Hopkins, Senior Vice President of Prime Video and Amazon Studios in a press release. “It’s very exciting and provides so many opportunities for high-quality storytelling.”
Beyond the acquisition of IP, Amazon says it will “help preserve MGM’s heritage and catalog of films, and provide customers with greater access to these existing works”. Most likely, that will mean the vault of MGM films being widely available on Amazon Prime Video.
The merger also means Amazon picking up MGM’s upcoming film slate – which as well as long-awaited Bond outing No Time To Die, includes Ridley Scott’s House Of Gucci, Aretha Franklin biopic Respect, the animated Addams Family 2, and the next film from Paul Thomas Anderson. There’s no word yet on how the deal will impact on the planned 30 September UK release of No Time To Die – expect more clarification in the coming weeks and months. It’s worth noting that many Amazon Studios releases have historically hit cinemas for a period of time before coming to streaming, but it remains to be seen if that release model will continue moving forward.
It is, though, another massive move in a rapidly-changing industry – another legendary Golden Age studio coming under the ownership of a streaming platform. Here’s hoping this isn’t the last we see of Leo the lion, roaring on the big screen as the projector flickers and a film prepares to roll.
“It has been an honor to have been a part of the incredible transformation of Metro Goldwyn Mayer. To get here took immensely talented people with a true belief in one vision. On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank the MGM team who have helped us arrive at this historic day,” said Kevin Ulrich, Chairman of the Board of Directors of MGM in his statement. “I am very proud that MGM’s Lion, which has long evoked the Golden Age of Hollywood, will continue its storied history, and the idea born from the creation of United Artists lives on in a way the founders originally intended, driven by the talent and their vision. The opportunity to align MGM’s storied history with Amazon is an inspiring combination.”