As of this morning, Amazon has officially purchased legendary Hollywood movie studio MGM in a deal worth $8.45 billion. That means the MGM library, which consists of over 17,000 hours of television shows and more than 4,000 movies, will help bolster the offerings on Amazon Prime Video – but a handful of major MGM classics will not be among them. If you’re wondering why films like The Wizard of Oz, Singin’ in the Rain, and Gone With the Wind are not included in the MGM/Amazon deal, we have the answer.
Oz, Wind, and Rain (which incidentally sounds like it could have been an Australian cover band of Earth, Wind, and Fire in the 1970s) are just three of the myriad number of films that were made at MGM before the year 1986, and which now belong to WarnerMedia. Indiewire explains that in ’86, media mogul Ted Turner – the guy behind television networks like TBS and TNT – orchestrated a series of deals that resulted in Turner Broadcasting taking ownership of every MGM movie made before that year. The idea was to buy those movies so he could boost the roster of titles that could air on his networks, including Turner Classic Movies. Ironically, of course, that’s basically the same thing Amazon is doing now: buying those titles to boost its streaming libraries.
MGM has a storied history of producing some of the biggest and best movies in Hollywood, being especially famous for churning out some top-tier musicals in the 1950s. But after encountering some financial troubles, it was forced to sell off its Culver City studio backlot to Columbia (eventually Sony), and a dealmaker named Kirk Kerkorian started wheeling and dealing with MGM assets. In 1981, Kerkorian purchased United Artists and its library and merged it with MGM; the Bond movies were included a part of that transaction, and you can read about that franchise’s fate in the wake of today’s deal here. By the time 1997 rolled around, Indiewire says “MGM’s library was so large that it represented more than half of the Hollywood studio films produced since 1948.”
It’s no wonder Jeff Bezos wants to get his hands on all of that content. But since Amazon does not have a clear brand identity yet when it comes to film and television, it remains to be seen which of those thousands of titles Amazon Studios head Jennifer Salke and her team will be mining for sequels, spinoffs, and remakes.
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