As we previously reported, MGM has finally filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York. After more than a year of trying to select a specific reorganization plan, MGM has ultimately gone with the plan that names Spyglass Entertainment as the new head of MGM.
Specifically, the plan appoints Spyglass co-heads Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum as co-CEOs of MGM; it was approved by MGM’s board of over 100 lenders, who will trade almost $4 billion in debt for 95% collective stake in the restructured studio.
Despite a last minute bid by MGM debt holder Carl Icahn and his studio, Lionsgate, to take over MGM, the Spyglass deal was approved and has now officially been set in motion. The court will have 30 days to review and approve the plan; if and when that approval is given, the reorganization initiative will wipe out ownership positions held by certain parties (Sony, Comcast) while converting other lenders’ debt into equity in the new Spyglass/MGM – a move that will still award Icahn a good chunk of stake in the studio.
Speaking of Icahn, he also managed to win a few other key battles in the eleventh-hour skirmish with Barber and Birnbaum: Spyglass’ equity stake in MGM has been knocked down from 5% to 1%, and Icahn will also join Barber and Birnbaum on the MGM board. Not a bad victory.
Here’s what the Spyglass co-heads had to say about the deal:
“MGM is emerging from one of the most challenging periods of its storied history. We are honored and inspired at the prospect of leading one of Hollywood’s most iconic studios into its next generation of unforgettable filmmaking, global television production and distribution, and aggressively pursuing, developing and exploiting new digital entertainment platforms.”
As detailed in our previous article, Barber and Birnbaum’s approach is to make 4-6 moderately-budgeted movies a year, allowing for one big blockbuster. Other MGM lenders want to “outsource” the cost of distributing films, while focusing on television ventures that include cable TV deals, video on demand and online streaming (domestically and abroad). Basically, the lenders are starting to look toward the future of entertainment – one where digital media helps eliminate certain costs associated with the traditional means of marketing and distributing entertainment. Not a bad plan.
As for the two things we here at Screen Rant care about – The Hobbit and James Bond – we know already that Barber and Birnbaum had distinctive roles in getting The Hobbit into production with Peter Jackson at the helm; it’s early yet to make an official call, but you can bet that the pair are looking ahead with equal enthusiasm to preserving the James Bond franchise, hopefully with star Daniel Craig still attached and rumored director Sam Mendes still onboard for the next installment. Bond fans have been saying for some time that this stalled Bond 23 movie is something the want to see, so it wouldn’t hurt Spyglass/MGM to hop to it and capitalize on that good favor.
I gotta be honest… I’ve been writing these MGM bankruptcy posts for about a year now, and I’m sincerely hoping that this is the last one. The next time I have to even mention this, the headline will hopefully read “Bond 23 Officially Back on Track”.
For now, take solace in the knowledge that The Hobbit: Part 1 is currently scheduled to reach theaters by December 19th, 2012, while Part 2 will follow a year later in December of 2013.
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