In a move that will shake up the entire film and TV industry, Amazon has announced it will purchase the MGM film company, in a deal worth a whopping $8.45 billion.
The main appeal of the acquisition, according to The New York Times, is MGM’s film library, which Amazon can use to bolster its Amazon Prime Video streaming service. While MGM sold off much of their vintage library (including titles like The Wizard of Oz and Singin’ in the Rain) many years ago, they still control “4,000 older movies, including pre-1986 films that come from two MGM divisions, United Artists and Orion.” The franchises they do control include several very lucrative ones, like Rocky, RoboCop, and the catalog of James Bond, which have been released by United Artists since the franchise’s earliest days in the 1960s.
Per the Times, though, the ownership of Bond comes with a catch:
Amazon will own only 50 percent of the spy franchise. The balance is held by Barbara Broccoli and her brother, Michael G. Wilson. The siblings also have ironclad creative control, deciding when to make a new Bond film, who should play the title role and whether television spinoffs get made. (They have blocked such efforts in the past.)
Still, even half control of Bond’s future — and the rights to add the films to their streaming service — are a big deal for a company like Amazon, which can use Bond movies to promote Amazon Prime streaming, and use new Bond productions to promote products they can then sell on Amazon. The next Bond, No Time to Die, is currently scheduled for release in October.
The deal also gives Amazon its own bonafide Hollywood studio at a time when they have been been acquiring more and more theatrical films for Prime Video. Last fall they bought Borat Subsequent Moviefilm and earlier this spring they released Coming 2 America. On July 4 weekend, they’ve got The Tomorrow War starring Chris Pratt. Buying MGM gives them all the films the studio has coming up — including the Aretha Franklin biopic Respect, Creed III, and Paul Thomas Anderson’s next movie — and the rights to create new versions of classic MGM movies like RoboCop. Plus, MGM’s TV division makes shows like Vikings and The Handmaid’s Tale. And it allows them to compete both with the big movie companies and the big streaming services.