Just as AT&T is offloading WarnerMedia, a new conglomerate is taking shape. Rumors have swirled for a while now that Amazon was looking to buy MGM, and this morning those rumors were made official with the announcement that Amazon will indeed acquire MGM for $8.45 billion. That means Amazon will now be in control of the James Bond franchise, which could have major repercussions for one of the longest-running and most iconic movie franchises of all time.
“MGM has a vast catalog with more than 4,000 films—12 Angry Men, Basic Instinct, Creed, James Bond, Legally Blonde, Moonstruck, Poltergeist, Raging Bull, Robocop, Rocky, Silence of the Lambs, Stargate, Thelma & Louise, Tomb Raider, The Magnificent Seven, The Pink Panther, The Thomas Crown Affair, and many other icons—as well as 17,000 TV shows—including Fargo, The Handmaid’s Tale, and Vikings—that have collectively won more than 180 Academy Awards and 100 Emmys,” said Mike Hopkins, senior VP of Prime Video and Amazon Studios. “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.”
The big question now is how Amazon will handle the distribution of the James Bond movies. No Time to Die, the long-delayed latest installment, is set for release on October 3, 2021 through MGM subsidiary United Artists Releasing. That will likely hold, but will No Time to Die now have a streaming component day-of or shortly after theatrical release? Is it too late for any kind of streaming deal to come together? Many questions remain, but a physical media release deal is already in place through Universal Pictures so at least we know No Time to Die will be released on Blu-ray and DVD.
But the future of the Bond franchise is now in Amazon’s hands, and the studio could very well bring us TV spinoffs of the series either focused on Bond himself or on ancillary characters from the franchise. After all, Amazon dropped half a billion to make a Lord of the Rings TV series (which is currently in production), so it’s not outside the realm of possibility that they view Bond as a lucrative TV opportunity. And Amazon’s acquisition of MGM also comes at a time when the Bond franchise is in flux, as No Time to Die is Daniel Craig’s final Bond movie, and Bond rights holders EON are on the lookout for a new leading man to front the franchise.
Amazon’s history in the film business has been interesting to say the least. Their first films got robust theatrical releases well before they ended up on the streaming service, and Amazon seemed focused on making interesting, critically acclaimed films like Manchester by the Sea, The Handmaiden, and The Lost City of Z. Recently, however, Amazon’s focus has shifted to trying to make more commercial films like Late Night (which they picked up at Sundance) and Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, although they haven’t entirely left indies behind – just last year they released Regina King’s powerful drama One Night in Miami… and the Oscar-winning Sound of Metal.
But over the last few months, Amazon has made a habit of picking up blockbusters offloaded by Paramount like Coming 2 America, Without Remorse, and the upcoming Chris Pratt sci-fi actioner The Tomorrow War. Acquiring MGM now gives Amazon even more storied IP to play with, and it’ll be interesting to see what kinds of franchises they prioritize once the deal closes. Could a new adaptation of Silence of the Lambs be in the offing?
We’ll no doubt find out more in the coming days and months, but for now this is yet another example of big media companies combining forces to try and maintain a hold on the increasingly crowded marketplace.