In a major move to expand its entertainment empire, Amazon has agreed to acquire MGM, the iconic Hollywood studio that owns half of the James Bond franchise, for $8.45 billion.
The acquisition is Amazon’s largest after its purchase of Whole Foods for $13.4 billion in 2017. According to The New York Times, it is paying about 40% more than other prospective buyers for MGM, which had been shopped around for months.
The 97-year-old studio sold off its vast production lot and pre-1986 film library decades ago but still owns 50% of the prized Bond franchise and a catalog of more than 4,000 titles, including the Pink Panther and Rocky films, that Amazon can now add to its Prime Video offerings.
“The real financial value behind this deal is the treasure trove of [intellectual property] 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 news release.
As the Times reports, “Amazon is bolstering Prime Video at a time when the biggest old-line studios are becoming less willing to license their libraries to outside streaming services; Warner Bros., Walt Disney Studios. and Paramount Pictures must now supply corporate siblings like HBO Max, Disney+ and Paramount+.”
“That shift has made independent film libraries more valuable,” the Times added.
Amazon Prime subscribers pay $119 a year or $13 a month for free shipping and other perks — notably access to the Prime Video streaming service — and households with Prime memberships typically spend $3,000 a year on Amazon, more than twice what households without the membership spend, according to Morgan Stanley.
“If you’re Amazon, the perspective is what’s the potential for Prime membership, what is the potential for advertising,” said Brian Yarbrough, a senior analyst at Edward Jones.
MGM is currently owned by Anchorage Capital, a New York investment firm. “I am very proud that MGM’s Lion, which has long evoked the Golden Age of Hollywood, will continue its storied history,” Kevin Ulrich, Anchorage’s chief executive and MGM’s chairman, said.