Amazon Buys MGM For $8.5 Billion

May 26, 2021

The MGM studio and library – from the James Bond, Rocky and RoboCop films to The Handmaid's Tale, The Voice, Survivor and The Apprentice – have been bought by Amazon for its Prime Video service.

It's the second mega-merger in the streaming wars in 10 days, following the acquisition last week of HBO Max (Warner Bros. film and TV studio, HBO, CNN, TBS, TNT) by Discovery (Food Network, Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, TLC, Travel).

Amazon, one of the world's richest companies, will purchase the iconic Hollywood studio for $8.5 billion. Amazon paid nearly $14 billion for Whole Foods in 2017.

"The real financial value behind this deal is the treasure trove of IP (intellectual property) in the deep catalog that we plan to re-imagine and develop together with MGM's talented team," said Mike Hopkins, Amazon senior vice president of Prime Video and Amazon Studios, announcing the deal Wednesday, according to NPR.

Metro Goldwyn Mayer was formed in April 1924 by theater magnate Marcus Lowe by merging Metro Pictures Corp., Goldwyn Pictures and Louis B. Mayer Productions. Among its 177 Academy Awards are a dozen Best Picture winners, including Gone With The Wind, West Side Story, Rain Man, Rocky, Midnight Cowboy, Annie Hall, Dances With Wolves and The Silence of the Lambs.

Some of those classics – plus The Wizard of Oz, Singin' In The Rain and A Christmas Story – are  not included in the sale. Ted Turner bought all pre-1986 MGM films for Turner Broadcasting in 1986.

The company's 4,000 movie titles include Moonstruck, The Silence of the Lambs, The Magnificent Seven and Four Weddings and a Funeral.

MGM's archives includes nearly 1,700 television episodes from The Handmaid's Tale, The Voice, Survivor, the Stargate franchise, Vikings, Fargo, Get Shorty, Condor, Fame, American Gladiators, Teen Wolf, In the Heat of the Night, Shark Tank, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, The Hills, Beat Shazam and Right This Minute.

Media is a relatively small piece of Amazon's huge empire, but it represents a fast-growing segment. Variety says that in 2020, the company spent $11 billion on TV shows, movies and music for Prime services — up 40% from the year prior.  

Media mergers in the last three years include Sinclair buying Fox Sports Networks ($10 billion); Disney buying Fox ($71 billion); CBS re-acquiring Viacom ($12 billion); and Discovery buying Scripps Networks ($12 billion) and WarnerMedia ($43 billion).