MGM Quarterly Earnings Surge Even as Revenue Falls

Gary Barber - Publicity - H 2017
Alex J. Berliner/ABImages/Courtesy of MGM

During a conference call, CEO Gary Barber said discussions with potential distribution partners for the next James Bond movie are ongoing.

MGM reported Tuesday that its quarterly revenue fell 10 percent to $267.7 million but net income surged more than ninefold to $112.8 million, in part because the year-ago period was marred by an impairment charge for Ben-Hur, a movie that was produced for $100 million but brought in just $94 million worldwide.

Also contributing to the dramatic improvement in net income was a one-time tax benefit and the acquisition of pay-TV channel Epix Entertainment in May.

MGM is a private company that nevertheless reports earnings each quarter. The company controls one of the world's biggest film libraries, including franchises like James Bond, The Hobbit, Rocky, RoboCop, 21 Jump Street, Silence of the Lambs and Pink Panther. Its TV library includes Teen Wolf, The Handmaid's Tale, Fargo, Stargate SG-1 and American Gladiators, along with Mark Burnett reality shows The Voice, Survivor, The Apprentice and Shark Tank.

The next movie in the 007 franchise — for now referred to as Bond 25 and starring Daniel Craig — is set for a 2019 release, but MGM is still seeking a distribution partner. Warner Bros. and Sony are favorites, but Universal, Fox and even Apple and Amazon are also interested, sources told The Hollywood Reporter in September. Annapurna is also a possibility as MGM struck a joint-venture deal with Megan Ellison's film studio last month.

During a conference call to discuss earnings, MGM chairman and CEO Gary Barber said a decision is forthcoming.

"Distribution plans for Bond 25 still have not been announced and we are continuing discussions with a variety of potential partners," the exec said. "We look forward to sharing more details on Bond 25 on future calls."

Beyond Bond 25, films that MGM is working on for future release include Creed 2, Death Wish, Bad Trip, I Am Pilgrim, Overboard, Sherlock Gnomes, Tomb Raider and Valley Girl.

MGM also recently relaunched Orion Pictures for modestly budgeted films and its first release, set for February, is Every Day, based on a young-adult novel about a spirit who inhabits a different body each day and tries to strike up a romance with a teenage girl.

MGM also owns TV channel MGM HD as well as Impact, a VOD service with 13 million subscribers. It also partnered with Sinclair Broadcasting to launch Comet TV, a sci-fi network, and it partnered with Fox Television Stations Group to launch LightTV, a network focused on faith and family.