UPDATE: In news that should soothe the nerves of 007 fans everywhere, EON, the company behind the Bond films, has just put out a statement that puts the kibosh on any ideas that James Bond movies will skip theatrical in favor of streaming debuts. As per Deadline, Eon states “we are committed to continuing to make James Bond films for the worldwide theatrical audience.”
Original post: After days of speculation, the deal has been done! Amazon and MGM have signed a merger agreement that will see Amazon acquire MGM for the staggering price of $8.45 billion. The home of James Bond, and nearly a century of filmmaking history, is said to complement the works of Amazon Studios, which has primarily focused on producing TV show programming. The goal of Amazon will be to help preserve MGM’s history and catalog of films by giving their customers much greater access to these films.
Mike Hopkins, Senior Vice President of Prime Video and Amazon Studios, had this to say about the historic acquisition:
“MGM has a vast catalog with more than 4,000 films—12 Angry Men, Basic Instinct, Creed, James Bond, Legally Blonde, Moonstruck, Poltergeist, Raging Bull, Robocop, Rocky, Silence of the Lambs, Stargate, Thelma & Louise, Tomb Raider, The Magnificent Seven, The Pink Panther, The Thomas Crown Affair, and many other icons—as well as 17,000 TV shows—including Fargo, The Handmaid’s Tale, and Vikings—that have collectively won more than 180 Academy Awards and 100 Emmys. 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.”
According to “Deadline“, the completion of the transaction is subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions, but this is merely a case of dotting all the I’s and crossing all the T’s. The news of the acquisition comes days after AT&T announced a $43 billion plan on May 17, 2021, to spinoff its WanerMedia division, which includes HBO and Warner Bros., to Discovery. These deals are rattling the entertainment industry a bit because some of these power plays show just how eager some of these companies are to come out on top. In the case of Amazon, which disclosed in April that 175 million Prime members have viewed movies and TV shows on its platform in the past year, they’re in a battle with Netflix (207 million global subscribers) and Disney+ (103 million global subscribers) for global domination among the top streaming platforms. The streamer has already made big moves with films by gaining Oscar-nominated fare (Sound of Metal and One Night In Miami), crowd-pleasing comedies (Coming 2 America and Borat Subsequent Moviefilm), and potential franchise starters (Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse). On the television side, Amazon launched Barry Jenkins’ limited series The Underground Railroad this month and they have a perennial Emmy nominee candidate with the comedy, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Their biggest television endeavor is the pricey The Lord of the Rings series which they hope to make their Game of Thrones.
What is still clear is that the upcoming Bond entry, NO TIME TO DIE, will still see a theatrical release despite this new partnership. Producers of the film, most notably Barbara Broccoli, nixed a deal for the film to be licensed to a streamer last fall and she has maintained that stance even during the MGM acquisition talks. The Bond producer turned down a $600 million deal for a one-year license of the film via Apple and she had no intention of starting off 2021 going into another one with Amazon. Needless to say, Bond will be going theatrical no matter what. Ridley Scott’s Gucci starring Lady Gaga and several other MGM tentpoles are also expected to still hit theaters. Kevin Ulrich, Chairman of the Board of Directors of MGM, echoed the sentiments of Amazon Studios in the following statement:
“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. 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.”
What are YOUR thoughts on this historic new deal?