In a first-of-its-kind acquisition of a major Hollywood studio by a streaming outfit, Amazon and MGM have entered into a definitive merger agreement that, pending approvals, will see Amazon acquire MGM for $8.45 billion.
Under the agreement, Amazon will own the rights to MGM’s historic catalog, with Amazon’s official statement citing works including franchise starters Rocky, Robocop, and Tomb Raider, among classics like 12 Angry Men and Raging Bull. Said Mike Hopkins, SVP of Prime Video and Amazon Studios, “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.”
Among MGM’s currently active franchises, the most popular—and lucrative—is James Bond, currently distributed in North America by United Artists Releasing and internationally by Universal Pictures. The next installment in that series, No Time to Die, is slated to arrive exclusively in cinemas on October 8, 2021. Other upcoming films from MGM/UA include House of Gucci, The Addams Family 2, and a planned sequel to 2018’s Tomb Raider reboot.
Since 2015, when Amazon Studios distributed their first film (Spike Lee’s Chi-Raq, co-distributed with Roadside Attractions), the company has shifted away from a model of limited theatrical exclusivity to one where more films—like 2020 releases Coming 2 America or Borat Subsequent Moviefilm—are released day-and-date or exclusively on Prime Video. How Amazon’s acquisition of MGM will affect the release strategies of upcoming MGM releases is unknown; the agreement will not become official until some later date, when certain closing conditions are met and regulatory approvals are made.
“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,” said Kevin Ulrich, chairman of the board of directors of MGM. “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.”