MGM has nearly a century of filmmaking history and complements Amazon Studios, which has primarily focused on producing TV programming, the companies said. Amazon will help “preserve MGM’s heritage and catalog of films,” and provide customers with greater access to these existing works, the companies said.
The MGM deal is Amazon’s second-largest acquisition, behind its $13.7 billion purchase of Whole Foods in 2017. Amazon didn’t say when it expects to close the MGM acquisition, which is subject to regulatory approvals and other usual closing conditions.
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer is the studio behind the Pink Panther, Rocky, and, yes, the 007 movie franchises. The pact comes on the heels of AT&T’s decision to spinoff WarnerMedia and combine it with Discovery, a deal that many entertainment analysts predict will spark a new round of mergers and acquisitions as media companies and streaming players scramble to lock up the most compelling content available.
However, companies that kicked the tires on MGM when it was being quietly shopped in recent months had expressed shock over the price that Amazon was willing to pay for the studio. They believed the studio was worth more on the order of $5 billion to $6 billion with the assumption of some debt. That was due in part to the fact that MGM shares the rights to the Bond franchise with Eon Productions. That company, which is run by half-siblings Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, has an unusual amount of control over the spy series — the approve everything from marketing to casting to distribution. That means that Amazon will struggle to get their sign off on any move to, say, debut the next Bond film on its streaming service, Amazon Prime.
Under film chief Michael De Luca, MGM has lined up several promising projects, including Ridley Scott’s “House of Gucci,” Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Soggy Bottom” and “Project Hail Mary,” an adaptation of Andy Weir’s novel that will star Ryan Gosling.
In recent years, Amazon’s studio division has shifted its strategy toward more commercial fare such as “Coming 2 America” and “Without Remorse” and away from the awards-driven productions such as “Manchester by the Sea” and “Cold War.”