It seems mergermania is back.
Variety reports Amazon is on the verge of buying the once-storied Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios for $9 billion. The film company has been looking for a buyer for sometime and, apparently, Amazon and other tech companies have been taking a look at MGM to see if it would be a good fit. But in the last few weeks, Amazon’s interest in the studio became more serious thanks to reported negotiations between Amazon Studios and Prime Video Senior Vice President Mike Hopkins and MGM chairman Kevin Ulrich.
As one of the first film company mergers — Metro Pictures, Goldwyn Pictures, and Louis B. Mayer Pictures each operated as separate firms before coming together in 1924 — MGM became a powerhouse in the 30s and 40s as it began to churn out glossy musicals and other star studded productions. But its star dimmed in the 1960s as trends moved on. Over the next two decades, any number of financial shenanigans led to MGM selling its physical studio (now owned by Sony Pictures) and its film library through 1986, which is now a key WarnerMedia asset.
That said, MGM still retains control of roughly 4,000 titles (films either acquired or produced after 1986) and primary interests in the James Bond series and The Hobbit; an asset Amazon would love to get a hold of as it continues to slowly film a Lord of the Rings series down in New Zealand. Variety also notes their library contains films like Silence of the Lambs and RoboCop, and television programs like the various Stargate series and The Handmaid’s Tale. Those assets could prove to be a strong backbone for Prime’s library, which can often feel like a disorganized mishmash, and lead to new projects — while we were never big fans of it, it’s easy to imagine Amazon pumping money into a new Stargate series.
Granted, all of this is still conjecture. But it does reflect a new round of media consolidation in the works. Amazon’s interest comes in the wake of a plan between AT&T and Discovery to spin WarnerMedia off into its own company again.