May 26, 2021
Another worrying step in the monopolisation of entertainment, the internet giant’s $8.45bn splurge is about adding reams of classic Hollywood IP for its film-making arm to feast on
Licence to content: Amazon’s MGM takeover gives it access to Bond and beyond
Just over two years ago, the Disney takeover of most of 21st Century Fox created an even bigger monster out of the two existing monsters, and pushed the movie business further towards a de facto monopoly of two or three humongous corporate entities gradually merging together to make a great big amorphous mass, spawning endless content. Now the blobbification process has gone further, with Amazon snapping up MGM for $8.45bn (£5.97bn).
That’s a hefty price, according to some, considering the debt that MGM carries and the fact that MGM’s star property James Bond, the global cash cow that keeps on giving milk, is in fact partly owned by Eon Productions, perhaps the last boutique franchise player in the world. Eon’s right to control every aspect of 007 is fiercely defended by its owners Barbara Broccoli and Michael G Wilson from their handsome offices in Piccadilly (rather like the old MI6 building). The suits at Amazon will have to consult Broccoli and Wilson over everything to do with 007.There was a time of course when a classic Hollywood studio such as MGM (or Metro Goldwyn Mayer Studios Inc) could be associated with a particular kind of film: in this case, the gorgeous musicals of the golden age. In the last century, they were associated with their talent – “more stars than the heavens” was Louis B Mayer’s boast, and after this era, MGM’s capital would reside in its back catalogue. That’s certainly what Amazon is buying now.
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