There are few more famous studios in the history of cinema than MGM. Wikipedia describes its early days:
MGM was formed by Marcus Loew by combining Metro Pictures, Goldwyn Pictures, and Louis B. Mayer Pictures into a single company. It hired a number of well known actors as contract players – its slogan was “more stars than there are in heaven” – and soon became one of Hollywood’s “big five” film studios, producing popular movie musicals and winning many Oscars.
MGM is still famous, but it now belongs to Amazon, which has just closed its $8.5 billion acquisition of the company, first announced in May 2021. The Hollywood Reporter quoted Mike Hopkins, Amazon senior vice president Prime Video and Amazon Studios, as saying at the time:
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
That trove consists of a film library of 4,000 titles, including the James Bond and The Hobbit franchises, and 17,000 hours of TV programming.
It’s a logical move for Amazon, which is seeking to establish itself as one of the main video streaming companies, alongside Netflix and Disney. YouTube should also be added to that list, even if it is not strictly comparable in terms of the material that it offers, or its pricing structure. Nonetheless, it is closer to Amazon than either of the other two names there, because it forms part of another digital behemoth – in this case, Alphabet, Google’s parent company.
Amazon’s purchase of MGM is yet another example of digital platforms moving increasingly into digital production, mostly through major acquisitions. We can expect to see more of these deals as deep-pocketed Internet giants seek to sweep up vast stores of material for their platforms, taking over from the traditional copyright companies like MGM, which used to dominate this world.
Featured image by Rob Mieremet / Anefo.