21-Dec-2019 • Bond News
According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, executives from Apple met with MGM this year to discuss a possible buy-out in order to strengthen Apple's new TV+ service.
Acquiring MGM would add over 4,000 films to the service.
Most notably, it would also secure 50% of the rights to the James Bond franchise that MGM currently holds due to its 1981 takeover of United Artists (who bought the rights from a financially beleaguered Harry Saltzman in the 1970s). Such a deal would see Apple partnering with Danjaq (and the production company subsidiary EON Productions) on future James Bond films. It would also give Apple exclusive control of distribution of past James Bond films.
MGM has been financially fragile since its emergence from bankruptcy. MGM recent partnered with Ellison's Annapurna to resurrect United Artists Releasing as a joint distribution arm, which will release 'No Time To Die' in the United States and Canada. MGM had to partner with Universal to distribute the picture overseas. MGM is currently owned by a group of hedge funds who may be looking to cash out.
Speculation about Apple eyeing MGM as a takeover target was raised by analysis back in September.
Back in 2017, when MGM was floundering to find distribution partners, Apple and Amazon were rumoured to be emerging as a possible suitor after Sony's deal expired.
Disney CEO Bob Iger recently commented that although the mouse house was not looking at any immediate further acquisitions, he had always been interested in James Bond.
Apple versus Disney for control of MGM, 50% of James Bond, and the entire back-catalog may be a fight for 2020.
Apple and MGM declined to comment.