Amazon has hit hard. By buying the legendary Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio, the e-commerce giant has caught its best shot since its arrival in the cinema, in 2010, with the creation of Amazon Studios. The buyout was announced on May 26, for an amount of $ 8.45 billion.
If the sum is far from the 71 billion dollars that Disney paid to buy the equally legendary 20th Century Fox, it remains monumental and the second most expensive acquisition in Amazon history after the American supermarkets Whole Foods for 13 , $ 7 billion in 2017. This buyout should be effective within two years.
→ READ. Amazon pays for the MGM studio and its “James Bond” films
MGM, founded in 1924, is the result of the merger of Metro Pictures and the studios of Samuel Goldwyn and Louis B. Mayer. Quickly, she became one of the biggest “ majors »From Hollywood, thanks to a catalog outclassing the competition and a logo, recognizable among a thousand, thanks to which the MGM is immediately identified. A majestic, roaring lion, inscribed in a case made of ribbons of film, on which is inscribed, in Latin, the motto of the company, ” Art for art “.
This lion accompanied the greatest successes of the 1950s, notably Gone with the wind, which remains to this day the film with the most admissions in the world. Spectators also heard him roar at the start of the Wizard of Oz or from Let’s sing in the rain and obviously, at the opening of two of the most lucrative sagas in history, James bond and Rocky. The MGM, made work the greatest scenario writers in the world, of which Claude Lelouch. The French director produced several films for “Les artistes associés”, the rights of which were then transferred to MGM.
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For him, the studio has “ surely one of the most beautiful catalogs in the world “. If he is a great defender of the cinema, he is happy that as many people as possible can discover or rediscover the almost 4,000 films produced by the studio throughout its history. ” The way to consume the image multiplies, he specifies. It is sure that with this incredible catalog, they will capture a substantial clientele.. “
What exploitation is planned for these films?
Acquiring MGM does not mean that these 4,000 films will be integrated into the Amazon Prime Video VOD platform or that future productions will skip the cinema box. While MGM has greatly contributed to brightening up the 7e art, there is not much left today. The studio was declared bankrupt in 2010 and its catalog partially absorbed by several companies, including Warner Bros. Almost all of the films before the 1950s are now owned by Warner and its new platform, HBO Max.
This acquisition is causing a stir, but in reality, it does not offer many advantages to Jeff Bezos’ firm. Certainly, Amazon will receive a percentage on TV broadcasts and future theatrical releases, but this amount will be tiny in terms of Amazon’s income. According to Alain Le Diberder, media specialist and former director of Arte, this gesture is more of a stock market than cinematographic ambition: ” It’s rather opportunistic, the gesture is not so much cinephile, it is to be better quoted on the stock market “.
What about “James Bond”?
Amazon’s strategy for its acquisitions is unclear. Unlike those of Disney (LucasFilms, Marvel, Fox) which is building a true Hollywood trust, Amazon does not have much to gain from the takeover of MGM. From the legendary studio, it remains a brand of high standing, but ultimately few films. Especially since the saga James bond is no longer under the control of the studio.
While the firm has the right to finance and distribute Agent 007’s films, the final say on artistic direction and marketing matters rests with Eon Production and its directors, Barbara Broccoli and her half-brother Michael G. Wilson. . The choice of the release of the films is at their discretion and, in a press release sent to the American magazine Variety, they said they did not intend to deprive the secret agent of his fetish lair, the movie theater, where To die can wait, the latest installment in the saga, has been awaited for almost a year.
This trend towards the takeover of large studios by giants of the Web and streaming platforms will increase in the future, indicates Alain Le Diberder. According to some rumors reported by the specialist, Amazon is currently trying to buy the AMC theaters. The century-old Paramount studio would also be in the sights of several investors.
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” The world changes, comments Claude Lelouch. These practices are part of the hellish competition that all these big bosses have today who want to take the power of the image.. “” We have never seen this in the history of capitalism, complete Alain Le Diberder. MGM has been sold for twice as much as it is worth and it is not over yet. There are going to be plenty of buyouts, the Hollywood majors are in the process of restructuring. “