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MGM appears to be getting closer to formally exploring a sale.
The Hollywood giant has enlisted Morgan Stanley and LionTree LCC to serve as advisors in the process, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing unnamed sources. A studio spokesperson declined to comment on the article.
MGM’s top shareholder is Anchorage Capital, run by former Goldman Sachs exec Kevin Ulrich, who leads the studio’s board of directors. An Anchorage Capital rep did not respond to a request for comment.
The company has gone without a single CEO since March 2018 when Gary Barber, the Spyglass Entertainment founder who joined MGM after it emerged from bankruptcy in 2010, was abruptly fired.
The studio touts that it has a film library of around 4,000 titles and 17,000 hours of TV programming, including the James Bond, Rocky and The Hobbit film franchises. That vast library could be a key asset as studios increasingly bet on direct-to-consumer streaming platforms to win over Wall Street investors as global box office grosses slide amid COVID-19 shutdowns.
The streaming wars escalated when Warner Bros. revealed plans on Dec. 3 to send its entire 2021 slate — 17 films — directly to its parent company’s streaming service, HBO Max, the same day the titles hit theaters. The fallout of that plan was discussed in banker LionTree’s year-end letter. On Dec. 17, LionTree CEO Aryeh B. Bourkoff remarked on the “opportunities for (re)invention” in the year ahead for global businesses, noting that WarnerMedia’s plan “poses many challenges by creating disruptions and opportunities for content creators, theatrical distributors but also highlighting the need for IP even for the most scaled of streaming platforms.”
MGM’s 25th installment in the Bond series, No Time to Die, was delayed from its Nov. 12 release date to April 2, 2021 as the pandemic has kept many theaters shuttered domestically. The studio had held talks with Apple about picking up the title, with the tech giant said to have considered an offer in the $350 million to $400 million range for the 007 film, sources told The Hollywood Reporter for an Oct. 27 story.
Over the past decade, MGM’s film hits include the billion-dollar grossers The Hobbit and Bond entry Skyfall in 2012, a blockbuster revival of the Rocky franchise with 2015’s Creed ($173 million globally) and last year’s animated reboot of The Addams Family ($203 million).
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