Amazon revealed plans Wednesday to purchase Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer for $8.45 billion.
During an investor call later that day, outgoing Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said the reason for the acquisition was simple. “MGM has a vast, deep catalogue of much beloved intellectual property. And with the talent at Amazon and the talent at MGM Studio, we can re-imagine and develop that IP for the 21st century. It will be a lot of fun work and people who love stories will be the big beneficiaries.”
The announcement confirms what was already old news in the trade papers: the nearly-century-old studio will be absorbed by the internet giant. And though such an occurrence feels like a natural evolution of the business, many are noting with sadness the further consolidation of media companies and pointing out reasonable questions in regard to the sale.
Here are Comicon, the most immediate question is what it means for the James Bond pictures. Though Amazon is clearly grabbing IP for the all-streaming future, Bond producers Micheal G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli told Variety they will still make 007 adventures for the theatrical window and a worldwide audience.
Also of concern: the future of Epix. The premium cable channel and streaming service provides us with the shockingly great Pennyworth, but it’s continued existence is in doubt. Of course, it is always possible for Pennyworth to migrate to HBO Max. All DC Entertainment content will end up there in the end.
Nevertheless, Epix represents one of the many ambiguities revolving around the deal. Here’s another: Amazon touts the 4,000 films MGM have in its library. But despite a clear list of these of these films, some sites reported The Wizard of Oz and Gone With The Wind as part of the IP joining the Amazon family. MGM has not owned those films since 1982, when the cash-strapped studio sold its entire catalogue up to that point to Warner Bros. The current WarnerMedia continues to tout both 1938 films as key jewels in its crown despite having nothing to do with either’s production.
This is the danger of the sort of media consolidation Amazon and Warner continually dabble in.
The deal is, of course, subject to regulatory approval. And we’ll keep on eye on the ambiguities to see how they clear up.