Metro Goldwyn Mayer; the studio giant behind cinematic works such as The Stargate films, Rocky Balboa, Windtalkers, Thelma and Louise, and classics like Gone With The Wind, and The Wizard of Oz, not to mention them being the same studio that hold the rights to the current James Bond movies, and are supposed to bankroll The Hobbit, and it’s sequel; has officially gone up for sale, after failing to recover from some real money troubles over the past few months.
We reported towards the end of last month that the studio was having troubles, which have led to the delay of The Hobbit, but the troubles began a good deal further back than that, as even last September the situation had gotten so bad that the studio was begging its creditors to waive the interest payments that it was supposed to pay, on the $3.5 billion debt that it has managed to accumulate, and let it at least get through this year; believing that The Hobbit, and the next Bond, would have made enough money to repay the lofty debts. The creditors however, were having none of it, and now the studio giant’s survival may depend solely on what cash it can scrape together from its illustrious back catalogue of over 4,000 titles, it’s famous logo, the United Artists company, and rights to James Bond and The Hobbit (Time Warner, Lionsgate, and News Corp, are reportedly interested in all of those assets).
Aside from selling off what it has left, there’s little else for MGM to do except wait and pray, as the executives have only been given one month free from their interest payments with which to try and formulate a plan for survival; but at this point any hope of a potential merger or large investment has all but leaped head first out of the window.
At this point anything could happen to the back catalogue; and the doors being left open as wide as they are at the minute mean that there is almost endless potential for somebody to come along and remake a bunch of the studios old classics (MGM themselves had plans to remake Robocop, but that project has now stalled indefinitely); and despite the future of profitable franchises such as the Bond and Hobbit movies being uncertain at this point, there’s no doubt that they will resurface at some point, and most likely with the same stars, and directors attached (because whatever studio ends up buying the rights to those two would basically be burning its potential profits if it decided to ditch the likes of Daniel Craig, Ian McKellan, Peter Jackson, etc etc.).
But the decision to sell also affects the likes of smaller studios and television companies, even in the U.K., as MGM actually owns the theatrical rights to the majority of ITV’s Global Entertainment catalogue, including rights for Granada International, and ITC Entertainment, which includes The Return of the Pink Panther, Capricorn One, and many more.