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17th March 2022

Amazon has officially acquired MGM

MI6 logo By MI6 Staff
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Following yesterday's news that the European Union had given the go-ahead for Amazon's acquisition of MGM, it surprised many today that the Federal Trade Commission (who had long threatened an extended review process) declined to file an antitrust complaint, which in its absence gave the green-light for the $8.45b deal.

As of today, MGM is now owned by Amazon Prime Video and Amazon Studios.

"MGM has a nearly century-long legacy of producing exceptional entertainment, and we share their commitment to delivering a broad slate of original films and television shows to a global audience," said Mike Hopkins, senior vice president of Prime Video and Amazon Studios. "We welcome MGM employees, creators, and talent to Prime Video and Amazon Studios, and we look forward to working together to create even more opportunities to deliver quality storytelling to our customers."

Amazon gains a library of 4,000 film titles, 17,000 TV episodes, and MGM's 50% stake in the James Bond film franchise.

Something that is not widely known is that MGM gave up all of its library pre-1986 in a sale to Turner Entertainment (now part of Warner Media / Discovery). The earlier James Bond films avoided that slice and dice as they were in the United Artists fold.

"We are excited for MGM and its bounty of iconic brands, legendary films, and television series, and our incredible team and creative partners to join the Prime Video family," said Chris Brearton, chief operating officer of MGM. "MGM has been responsible for the creation of some of the most well-known and critically acclaimed films and television series of the past century. We look forward to continuing that tradition as we head into this next chapter, coming together with the great team at Prime Video and Amazon Studios to provide audiences with the very best in entertainment for years to come."

How does this affect the immediate future of the James Bond franchise?

Probably nothing, immediately. Existing distribution deals for the films, whether on competing streaming services or DVD and Bluray media, will remain in place unless there is a change of ownership break clause. James Bond becoming exclusive to Amazon Prime may happen first as streaming contracts are shorter term.

EON has been pushing back on any rush to sign the next actor to take over the role of James Bond, especially given that Daniel Craig is still in the public eye as 'No Time To Die' completes its awards ceremony laps.

Many fans have pointed to the 60th-anniversary celebrations as a great time to introduce the seventh actor, but there are a number of steps that have to take place before that. First, MGM has to green-light Bond 26 with a production budget. This should not be a problem anymore given the deep reserves of Amazon. In recent years, Bond productions have had to seek external funding for the budgets, most notably a co-financing deal with Sony for Daniel Craig's first four films. Second, a director has to be hired (and that usually happens after a draft script is completed, but not always). Only then will screentests take place for potential 007s. Thirdly, when a selection is finally made, it will have to be approved by MGM, and likely by Amazon Studios management too. None of this will happen quickly, especially as Barbara Broccoli is producing Daniel Craig's 'Macbeth' on Broadway through the middle of the year.

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