Amazon announced its $ 8.45 billion deal on Wednesday to buy Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer – but it doesn’t include the rights to the studio’s classics like Wizard of Oz or Gone with the Wind, which could hurt them in the scrum for the streaming crown.
Amazon’s second-largest acquisition – after it bought grocer Whole Foods for nearly $ 14 billion in 2017 – aims to boost streaming services to compete with industry giants Netflix, Disney + and HBO Max.
It gets more than 4,000 movies and 7,000 shows after May 1986, featuring famous characters including James Bond, Rocky, RoboCop and Pink Panther. Amazon is also getting a cable channel: Epix, which MGM owns.
Jeff Bezos’s Amazon is paying $ 8.45 billion for MGM, making it the company’s second-largest acquisition after it bought grocer Whole Foods for nearly $ 14 billion in 2017.
But rights to the 2,000 titles in the pre-May 1986 collection, including classics like Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind, are still owned by Turner and WarnerMedia.
“The acquisition thesis is really very simple here,” CEO Jeff Bezos said at a recent annual meeting.
MGM has a huge, deep catalog of much-loved intellectual property. And with the talent at Amazon and the talent at MGM Studio, we can reimagine and develop that IP for the 21st century. It will be a lot of fun work and people who love stories will be the big beneficiaries.
An Amazon spokesperson declined to comment when DailyMail.com asked if the company was pursuing pre-May 1986 titles.
The closing is still subject to regulatory approvals and other routine closing conditions, but insiders believe the deal will be approved by the end of 2021.
In December, MGM said it was investigating a sale. It said it had tapped into investment banks Morgan Stanley and LionTree LLC and started a formal sale process
In addition to Prime Video, Amazon also has a free streaming service called IMDb TV, where Amazon makes money by playing ads during movies and shows.
During Amazon’s first quarter results, the company said that 175 million Prime members streamed shows last year, and more than 200 million can access it because they signed up for the Prime membership, which gives them faster shipping and other benefits.
Households with a Prime membership typically spend $ 3,000 a year on Amazon, more than double what households without a membership spend, Morgan Stanley said, which is why Amazon wants to invest in Prime.
Brian Yarbrough, a senior analyst with Edward Jones, said The New York Times: “More and more Prime members are using video more often and spending more hours on it, so I think this is a way to add more content and more talent to movies.
“This isn’t one studio buying another … If you’re Amazon, the perspective is what’s the potential for Prime membership, what’s the potential for advertising.”
This is how the streaming services currently stack up. Netflix has by far the largest number of subscribers and spends the most, but the new company Discovery and AT&T will spend more. Amazon currently spends about $ 11 billion, but a purchase from MGM could change that equation
While Amazon took a victory lap and promoted their announcement, Twitter was ablaze with critics like Zephyr Teachout – Fordham’s university professor and attorney who lost to NYS Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the 2014 Democratic primaries – who say Amazon is a growing monopoly. that must be broken up.
Some reactions, like Teachout’s, were more serious; others were general comic takes.
Amazon needs to be disconnected from the warehouses. This MGM nonsense is exactly in the wrong direction. Stop the monopoly madness, ” Teachout tweeted Wednesday.
Known for its roaring lion logo, MGM is one of the oldest Hollywood studios, founded in 1924 when movies were silent.
It has a long list of classics in its library, including Singin ‘in the Rain. More recent productions include the reality TV staples Shark Tank and The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, as well as the upcoming James Bond movie No Time to Die and a biopic of Aretha Franklin called Respect.
Additionally, MGM has several movies in the pipeline that could be Oscar contenders.
That list includes Ridley Scott’s House of Gucci, starring Lady Gaga and Adam Driver; and Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest project, starring Bradley Cooper in his first movie since A Star is Born in 2018.
“ The real financial value behind this deal is the wealth of (intellectual property) in the extensive catalog that we want to reimagine and develop with the talented team at MGM, ” said Mike Hopkins, senior VP of Prime Video and Amazon Studios, in a statement announcing the deal. ‘It’s very exciting and offers so many opportunities for high-quality stories.’
A seemingly skeptical Twitter user said, ‘Rip #MGM. I hope the roaring lion is not killed. #Amazon #MGMStudios. ‘
The high price tag is a drop of rain in an ocean for Amazon – $ 1.6 trillion behemoth – but companies that kicked the tires on MGM when it quietly shopped in recent months were shocked at the price, according to Variety.
They believed the studio was worth about $ 5 billion to $ 6 billion with the takeover of some debt, Variety reported.
In comparison, Disney paid less for Star Wars and Marvel in two separate purchases when it bought Lucas Films for $ 4 billion in 2012 and Marvel for $ 4.05 billion in 2018.
Amazon already has its own studio, but has had mixed results.
Two of the shows, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and Fleabag, won Emmys for best comedy series, but many of the films did not click with the audience at the box office.
Recently, Amazon has been spending money on sports and rousing shows. It will stream Thursday Night Football and produce a Lord of the Rings show next year, which reportedly cost $ 450 million for the first season alone.
Subject to customary approvals, the deal will make Amazon, already one of the most powerful and valuable companies in the world, even bigger.
Regulators around the world are scrutinizing Amazon’s business practices, especially the way it looks at information from companies that sell goods on its site and use it to make its own Amazon branded products.
The deal between Amazon and MGM follows other major media mergers, including AT&T and Discovery, which announced on May 17 that they would combine media companies to create a powerhouse that includes HGTV, CNN, Food Network and HBO.
The film studio is behind the James Bond franchise, owns the Epix cable channel and makes TV shows, including hit shows such as The Handmaid’s Tale, Fargo, Vikings and Shark Tank
A House Judiciary Committee report in October called for a possible split from Amazon and others, making it more difficult for them to buy other companies and imposing new rules to safeguard competition.
Founded in 1995 as an online bookstore, Amazon has grown into a trillion-dollar giant doing a little bit of everything.
It has a corporate delivery network that gets orders to people within two days or earlier; sells inhalers and insulin; has a cloud computing company that powers Netflix and McDonald’s apps; and has plans to send more than 3,200 satellites into space to deliver Internet services to Earth.