Jeff Bezos has added 007 and the Italian Stallion to its luxurious toybox, where the two icons will now stand tall among the Hobbits: In a historic move, Amazon has dropped $8.45 billion to acquire legendary movie studio MGM.
Founded in 1924, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer is one of the most legendary studios in Hollywood, its iconic lion’s roar having preceded everything from The Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind to Poltergeist and A Christmas Story.
Undoubtedly, the rights to the lucrative James Bond franchise were the cherry on top of the 10-figure deal, with the Rocky/Creed films sweetening the deal. But with thousands of movies under MGM’s banner and the rights to formerly independent United Artists in the mix, Amazon just scored one of the most impressive film catalogues outside the Library of Congress.
The deal — Amazon’s second-biggest acquisition after it dropped $13.7 billion on Whole Foods — has a lot of implications. Here’s what it could mean for some of your favorite movies and franchises going forward.
Will Bond and Creed head straight to streaming?
No Time to Die, the 25th Bond film and Daniel Craig’s last, was the first major movie delayed by the pandemic, and in the throes of the theatrical apocalypse it was reported that MGM tried to offload the $300-budget film on Netflix for a whopping $600-$850 million, according to Variety.
Now, with Amazon’s purchase, fans’ first question is whether the film will skip theaters to help drive an uptick in Amazon subscriptions and rentals.
It won’t. While the film is likely to stream exclusively on Amazon once it’s out of theaters, it’s still a theatrical franchise, and with longtime caretaker Barbara Broccoli and Eon Productions still serving as gatekeepers, it’s likely the launch of future Bond movies will remain theatrical. No Time to Die will still debut on screens September 30.
The entire Bond catalogue, from Dr. No to Spectre, will now reside at Amazon.
It remains to be seen whether Creed III — the third entry in the Rocky spinoff in which Michael J. Jordan will star and direct — will hit Amazon directly. Given the series is the studio’s other most reliable cash cow and an awards hopeful, it’s doubtful it will skip theaters.
It's worth noting that Jordan recently starred in Amazon's Tom Clancy flick No Remorse, meaning the actor could now headline two separate franchises for the streamer.
Expect to see a flood of MGM-based TV series and spinoffs
Likely the biggest move of the new Amazon era of MGM will be the development of spinoff series and one-off movies. The streamer is already hard at work on a Lord of the Rings series: Amazon acquired the TV rights to Tolkein’s opus and dropped more than $450 million on its first season, so it stands to reason that Amazon will want to similarly spin its new acquisition into multiple series.
But don’t take it from us.
“The acquisition’s thesis here is really very simple,” Amazon CEOJeff Bezos told shareholders on Wednesday, as reported by The Wall Street Journal. “MGM has a vast, deep catalog of much-beloved intellectual property, and with the talented people at MGM and the talented people at Amazon Studios, we can reimagine and develop that IP for the 21st century.”
The prime candidate is Bond. The franchise previously flirted with the idea of giving a spinoff film series to Jinx, the spy played by Halle Berry in 2002’s Die Another Day, and now that it’s in the development-happy hands of MGM it’s all but certain that the Bond universe will expand beyond 007, whether into MI6’s history or following other characters who may or may not be introduced in No Time to Die.
But the acquisition goes well beyond Rocky and Bond. MGM’s got a catalogue of more than 4,000 films (plus TV shows like The Handmaid’s Tale). That gives Amazon the ability to further already-serialized properties like The Silence of the Lambs, Stargate and Fargo in addition to fresh takes and continuations on Robocop, Legally Blonde, The Pink Panther and many, many more beloved IPs.
Additionally, the deal includes movies under the imprint of United Artists, which merged with MGM in 1981. That puts it in possession of such properties as A Star is Born, Rebecca, High Noon, 12 Angry Men, Midnight Cowboy, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Apocalypse Now, Carrie and Raging Bull .
Which is to say, Amazon just inherited its own version of the Criterion Collection, and has free reign to adapt, reimagine and spin them off into whatever it sees fit.
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