It could very well be the first major movie studio to be crushed by the pandemic, and even the likes of James Bond may not be able to save it.
Reports say that MGM, one of the oldest movie studios in operation, is currently exploring a sale of all its assets, including its vast film library, which includes the 007 franchise, ScreenRant reported.
Started in 1924, MGM was named after the three studios, which were consolidated by movie legend Marcus Loew — Metro Pictures, Goldwyn Pictures, and Louis B. Mayer Pictures.
Loew also founded the popular cinema chain that bore his name, which was bought out by AMC in 2006, itself now facing financial troubles, ScreenRant reported.
The studio is best known for producing the James Bond movies, along with EON Productions, since the beginning of the franchise.
The series is currently up to the 25th film, No Time To Die, which has been repeatedly delayed by the coronavirus, ScreenRant reported.
Sources say MGM has a film library of over 4,000 titles and 17,000 hours of television programming.
It has also produced a number of other big movies, including the Pink Panther series, Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky pictures, as well as The Hobbit trilogy, The Terminator, Rain Man and Silence of the Lambs.
It’s also responsible for a number of TV series, from Stargate SG-1 to The Handmaid’s Tale. In the past decade, the studio’s movies were distributed by a number of companies, following its near bankruptcy in 2009, ScreenRant reported.
According to Variety, MGM’s current top shareholder is the hedge fund Anchorage Capital, which is led by former Goldman Sachs executive Kevin Ulrich. Ulrich is also at the head of MGM’s board of directors.
Despite surviving that crisis, it seems like MGM won’t outlast the pandemic.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that MGM is actively trying to sell off the studio through investment banks Morgan Stanley and LionTree LLC.
The report mentions MGM is valuing itself at US$5.5 billion, a number that includes not only all of its current titles but its entire historic film library.
The company is reportedly confident a streaming service, or a company wanting to expand its reach in streaming, will be willing to pay that price for its content.
The studio has been struggling with no major theater releases in 2020 and was at one point rumored to be looking for a streaming buyer for No Time To Die, ScreenRant reported.
None were willing to pay the $600 million price tag for Daniel Craig’s final outing as the spy, though, and further delays to the movie reportedly cost the studio $1 million in interest a month.
At the time, many wondered how MGM would be able to carry that kind of debt, given its previous financial struggles.
The answer is now clear that it can’t. Without any income and without a streaming option to turn to like Disney and Warner Bros., MGM seems to have run out of money and, with that, options.
The sale will also have repercussions for No Time To Die. If MGM is sold soon, the Bond film could find itself getting released on a streaming service after all.