Amazon Prime has soared in popularity ever since the pandemic closed down cinema halls and forced people to stay indoors. Now, it seems that Amazon has more plans in store as it makes its way into Hollywood, with the acquisition of one of the oldest movie studios in the world, the fabled Metro Goldwyn Mayer Studios, for $8.45 billion. This marks the second-biggest acquisition by the e-commerce giant since the purchase of Whole Foods for $13.7 billion. The deal comes amid a new round of consolidation in media as companies seek greater scale to compete in streaming against bigger companies such as Netflix and Disney.
With the acquisition, Amazon will gain access to a library of content that’s reported to consist of around 4,000 films and over 17, 000 hours of television. MGM is well-known for the franchises and TV shows it has given us ever since its inception in 1924 (during the era of silent films), including James Bond, Legally Blonde, The Pink Panther, RoboCop, Rocky, and shows Vikings and The Handmaid’s Tale. With these in Amazon’s arsenal, it will gain a significant edge over its competitors like Disney and Netflix.
According to Amazon, the acquisition will “provide customers with greater access” to MGM’s works and “empower” the studio to continue its “great storytelling.”
“The real financial value behind this deal is the treasure trove of IP in the deep catalog that we plan to reimagine and develop together with MGM’s talented team,” Mike Hopkins, senior vice president of Prime Video and Amazon Studios, said in a statement. “It’s very exciting and provides so many opportunities for high-quality storytelling.” Amazon also said that they would be preserving older films.
MGM Chairman Kevin Ulrich notes that the opportunity to align MGM’s storied history with Amazon was an inspiring combination. Before the acquisition, MGM was owned by a host of private equity firms, including Anchorage Capital Group, Highland Capital Management, and Solus Alternative Asset Management.
“I am very proud that MGM’s Lion, which has long evoked the Golden Age of Hollywood, will continue its storied history, and the idea born from the creation of United Artists lives on in a way the founders originally intended, driven by the talent and their vision,” Ulrich said.
Recent years have not been kind for MGM – with the increase in preferences to watch online on streaming services has proved its bane, and it had to encounter a series of ownership changes and bankruptcy in recent years. While Amazon’s streaming service has been a relatively small part of the empire, it has over 200 million subscribers and streamed over 175 videos (including films and shows) last year. The acquisition of MGM, with its rich collection, would be a boon for Amazon.
It has its own studio, though it is yet to make a name in the film industry. One of its most closely watched projects is the much-anticipated (and highly expensive) series based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, something that I personally am a huge fan of.
With all this great content coming to Amazon Prime, it’d be interesting to see how the platform fairs against Netflix and Disney+ now.