It would appear that the MGM saga has finally come to a conclusion. Earlier in the month, we reported that MGM had agreed to a reorganization plan in which the company would file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy – allowing Spyglass Entertainment CEOs, Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum, to take over.
Now, according to an official press release from MGM, that plan has been approved, meaning the beleaguered company can finally begin to move past its financial woes under new management.
“Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. (“MGM”) today announced that the secured lenders voting in the Company’s solicitation process have overwhelmingly approved its proposed plan of reorganization (“Plan”). MGM will now move expeditiously to implement that Plan, which will dramatically reduce its debt load and put the Company in a strong position to execute its business strategy. MGM is appreciative of the lenders’ support.”
Most pundits predicted that the Spyglass plan would be approved. However, in true Hollywood fashion, there was drama up to the very end of the deal – with Carl Icahn and Gordon Crawford pitching a last-minute alternative that would have allowed Lionsgate to take over MGM.
So what does Spyglass taking over mean for MGM’s current and extensive backlog of films – including classics such as the James Bond films? According to a Wall Street Journal report, prior to the official approval of the reorganization, under the new plan Barber and Birnbaum “would make just four to six movies a year, most with modest budgets of $50 million or so, though allowing for an occasional big one.”
For their part, MGM’s lenders want to slash spending as much as possible. Per the Journal article, “They plan to outsource to another studio the task of distributing films to theaters, then focus on the television business—cutting deals with cable-TV channels, video-on-demand services and online streaming companies, especially abroad.”
If those quotes make you nervous, consider this: Barber and Birnbaum were critical in getting The Hobbit back on track under the direction of Peter Jackson. My sense is that, while the investors will try and run the studio on the cheap, Barber and Birnbaum are the right guys to make sure that MGM’s legacy remains intact.
Hopefully, I’m right – because I was really looking forward to seeing a Sam Mendes directed James Bond film. Over the summer, Bond producer Michael G. Wilson said that a new Bond film would be back “soon” once MGM sorted out its financial problems. Only time will tell if that holds true, but it’s hard to imagine MGM’s new Co-CEOs bungling an opportunity to move forward with one of Hollywood’s most venerated franchises.