With the purchase of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios (MGM), Amazon has instantly been transformed from a still emerging player to a bonafide major cog in the Hollywood engine. And while the $8.5 billion price for MGM is substantial, it’s less than Amazon’s roughly $13 billion spend on original content in 2021 and $11 billion in 2020.
“MGM has a nearly century-long legacy of producing exceptional entertainment, and we share their commitment to delivering a broad slate of original films and television shows to a global audience,” said Amazon Studios vice president Mike Hopkins in a statement.
In addition to holding the rights to some of the biggest franchises in history, like James Bond and Rocky—film series that other streaming services will continue to want the right to license—the new stable of content also affords Amazon the opportunity to replicate the model currently fueling the success of Disney+.
Amazon’s new universe of bankable content to be reimagined
In the same way that Disney+ is mining the Star Wars and Marvel universes via series like The Mandalorian and WandaVision, Amazon now has the ability to leverage MGM properties as streaming TV and movie offshoots. Some of the initial work has already been done for Amazon through TV series like NBC’s Hannibal, which was canceled despite its outspoken fan base, and the CBS series Clarice, both explorations of the Silence of the Lambs franchise, which Amazon now owns as a part of MGM.
Similarly, the Rocky cinematic universe, which now includes the successful Creed series (also now a VR game), could give life to a streaming TV branch of the franchise. Some of the other popular properties ripe for streaming exploitation include MGM’s RoboCop, Stargate, Poltergeist, Tomb Raider, G.I. Joe, Legally Blonde, and The Addams Family. Amazon also now has meaningful ties to Disney through the Hulu series The Handmaid’s Tale, to Netflix via Vikings: Valhalla, and to FX and its Fargo series, all MGM properties.
If Disney+ can use a relatively minor character like Boba Fett to launch two successful series, the afore-mentioned MGM properties represent a wealth of similar opportunities (James Bond’s spymaster M and gadget maker Q, and Rocky’s grizzled trainer Mickey, just to name a few) ready to lead new stories set in familiar cinematic worlds.
Amazon is now an unquestionable part of the Hollywood family
Alongside the content strategy of Amazon’s acquisition, and the development money it may save by leaning on its new library, MGM also gives the e-commerce giant new prestige. The studio has landed 177 Oscars, including best picture wins for Dances With Wolves, In the Heat of the Night, Annie Hall, Rain Man, Platoon, and the 1961 version of West Side Story.
Although Amazon hasn’t had much trouble attracting major stars for its original film and streaming TV division, its new MGM pedigree will likely enhance its profile among Hollywood producers looking to marry profit with prestige when searching for homes for their projects.