MGM Moving Headquarters to Beverly Hills

Carlo Allegri/Getty Images

The studio, which just emerged from bankruptcy, plans to vacate its namesake building in Century City in favor of office space originally intended to be occupied by WME.

Less than a week after emerging from a lengthy bankruptcy, MGM has signed a lease for new headquarters office space in Beverly Hills, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

The Lion signed a lease Sunday for the entirety of the six-story, 144,000-square-foot Beverly Drive office building that was originally slated to be occupied by WME, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.

The studio will vacate its current headquarters in Century City at its namesake building -- the MGM Tower. The company leases about 200,000 square feet at the 35-story building and had been trying to sublease the offices to other parties, but that plan never came to fruition. MGM will now pay a "one-time" fee to landlord JMB Realty Corp. in order to break its lease and leave the 10250 Constellation Blvd. building, the source said.

Terms of MGM's lease with George Comfort & Sons Inc., the landlord of its new headquarters building at 235-269 N. Beverly Drive, are not known, though the Class A property is perhaps the highest-profile vacant building in Los Angeles County and would be expensive to fully lease.

It is also unclear when MGM will move into its new headquarters or whether the smaller size of the new offices is related to the company's layoffs earlier this month. About 50 employees were let go; the layoffs were part of MGM's reorganization plan.

MGM declined to comment.

The new Beverly Drive building, which was completed earlier this year, has had a brief but tumultuous history. Originally, it was to be occupied by the William Morris Agency, but the firm's 2009 merger with Endeavor threw a kink into those plans. WME backed out of an agreement to occupy the new building, and arbitration between WME and George Comfort remains unresolved, according to the source.  WME has been headquartered nearby at 9601 Wilshire Blvd. since April 2009.

This fall, it was rumored that rival agency UTA had been looking into occupying the Beverly Drive building if WME did not move into it. Indeed, the source said UTA had nearly completed its negotiations to lease about 80,000 square feet of the building from George Comfort before MGM stepped in and quickly came to terms with the landlord.

WME and UTA did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

No one was speaking on the record Tuesday, but sources were surprised that MGM would sign a lease for such a high-profile building just days after exiting bankruptcy Dec. 20. The bankruptcy plan wiped out the Lion's debt and installed Spyglass Entertainment chiefs Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum as the company's co-chief executives. MGM plans to release up to eight films a year, starting in 2012.

Speculation about MGM's move first surfaced on the Beverly Hills Courier's website on Monday.