Back in September we reported on the financial troubles of movie studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (or MGM for short). The studio has racked up a debt of a whopping $3.5 billion (yowza!) and, at the time, it was, "teetering on the edge of bankruptcy." The company has two big properties currently in its possession, those being the Bond franchise and the upcoming Hobbit adaptation.
Luckily, but not surprisingly, both those properties are quite safe, with Warner Bros. stepping in to foot the bill for production on The Hobbit, while also handling domestic distribution for the film (which will be split into two parts). As I said, no surprise there that the two franchises are safe (guaranteed box office bank if ever there were any), but it was nice for that to be made official.
However, specific film properties aside, the trouble for MGM at large is that it was possibly going to auction of its assets. And now, only a couple of months later, we get word that's exactly what's happening. Variety reports that MGM has been given an extension until January 31st, 2010, from paying interest on their massive debts (which is the second time an extension has been granted, the first being until December 15th), and is going to be using that time to start, "a process to explore various strategic alternatives including operating as a standalone entity, forming strategic partnerships and evaluating a potential sale of the company."
Sources close to MGM say that the studio's investment bankers, Moelis and Co., are overseeing the sales process. However MGM's current management will remain in place to take care of feature development and the general continuing of production. A statement issued on Friday from MGM reads:
"The lenders took this action in support of the company's ongoing efforts to develop and evaluate long-term strategic alternatives to maximize value for its stakeholders... MGM appreciates the continued support of its lender group for the process it is undertaking."
So what assets does MGM have to offer? Well, they include the likes of a 4,000-title library, the logo, the United Artists operations, rights to the James Bond franchise and half-ownership of the upcoming Hobbit films. You'd immediately think that other studios would be licking their lips right about now and you'd be right: Possible buyers include Time Warner, News. Corps (which owns 20th Century Fox) and Lionsgate (Get it? LIONsgate? MGM's logo is a roaring lion... Okay, never mind...).
There was a rumor at the beginning of last month that the Bond franchise was maybe moving from MGM to Fox, but soon thereafter MGM contacted the guys over at Film School Rejects directly to let us all know that wasn't the case. However, in light of this recent news, even though Bond won't be moving studios, per se, if another studio snaps up MGM then the Bond franchise would by extension be owned by someone else.
Man, this whole MGM ordeal really is tossing and turning in a relatively short period of time, isn't it?...
What do you think of MGM being officially for sale in light of their recent financial troubles? Which studio do you think will make the purchase?
Stay tuned for developments.