The Bezos beast has staked its latest claim. Amazon’s primary problem-solving tactic when it has come to Amazon Prime Video’s film and TV streaming efforts has been to throw money at things and seeing if they work. That’s most recently manifested in the big budgets of a few massive would-be franchise-starting fantasy TV series. But as every other streamer has learned, it’s much easier to obtain existing IP than to create your own. So it makes a kind of perverse sense that Amazon has made the second-largest acquisition in its history, buying the nearly century-old studio MGM for $8.45B.
To put that in context, Amazon spent $13.7B on Whole Foods in 2017…and $11B on film, TV and music content in 2020. Snapping up MGM’s ~4000 movies (not counting the ones now owned by Warner Bros.’ TCM), its entire film operation and MGM Television…well, it’s a drop in the bucket. Amazon will surely be happy to have so many franchises and established films to put up on its service, but this also throws MGM’s Epix—both a premium cable channel and streamer with Epix Now—into flux. Will it be killed off in service of Prime?
Other questions include how exactly the 007 franchise fits into this. James Bond is far and away MGM’s top money-maker, but his future (and present, with No Time to Die still on its way) isn’t entirely in the hands of any studio: It’s in the hands of the Broccoli family. They could still dictate that the world’s biggest super-spy isn’t, say, going direct-to-streaming.
MGM has been toying with the idea of a larger corporate overlord for a while, with Apple as one of the would-be contenders, but Amazon finalizing its claim puts its library on another level than most of its competition.
“The opportunity to align MGM’s storied history with Amazon is an inspiring combination,” said Kevin Ulrich, who leads MGM’s board of directors.