The name is Mayer. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM). Home of the venerable James Bond franchise, MGM is a Hollywood moviemaker through production units MGM Studios and United Artists (UA). Recent films include Fame and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Its MGM Television produces TV shows such as the mini-series Mildred Pierce, which aired on HBO, while MGM Home Entertainment distributes films on DVD. MGM owns one of the largest film libraries in the world, with more than 4,000 titles, including the Rocky and Pink Panther series, as well as some 10,000 television episodes. The company emerged from Chapter 11 in 2010 under new ownership. The largest shareholder in the rejuvenated MGM is billionaire financier Carl Icahn.
MGM has put more focus on its distribution business (though that activity has been rather lackluster as well, with mediocre titles such as Soul Men and Hurricane Season from The Weinstein Company's Dimension label). The studio has had better luck with exploiting its massive film library; MGM has won more than 200 Academy Awards over the years. In 2011 MGM renewed its distribution agreement with Twentieth Century Fox to release its films on DVD and Blu-ray through 2016. On theatrical front, MGM formed a pact with Sony in 2011; that distribution partnership is limited to select pictures such as the upcoming 23rd James Bond film (titled Skyfall), a movie remake of the television show 21 Jumpstreet, and 2011's big screen version of the popular novel The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
The company's 2010 bankruptcy filing came after a dearth of hit movies and a decline in the home entertainment market caused it to struggle financially. Formerly owned by Sony Corp. and its consortium partners, including Providence Equity Partners, Texas Pacific Group, and Comcast Corporation (which had bought MGM in 2005 for a costly $5 billion), the company had been saddled with a heavy debt load. MGM tried to sell itself in 2009 and 2010, but failed to find a suitable offer. Most of its value came from its library, logo, the United Artists operations, rights to the Bond and Pink Panther franchises, and half-ownership in the upcoming Hobbit films. (MGM is co-financing two highly anticipated Hobbit pictures with Warner Bros. that are set for release in 2012 and 2013.) Late in 2010 MGM's creditors completed a bankruptcy reorganization plan.
MGM's 2010 restructuring gave Spyglass Entertainment (producer of films such as Seabiscuit and The Sixth Sense) a small stake in MGM (about 1%), and Spyglass executives took over MGM's management. (The Spyglass plan was approved after MGM rejected a competing bid from leading independent movie studio Lions Gate Entertainment). In addition, new lenders exchanged the studio's debt for a 95% stake in the firm, and MGM raised about $500 million to continue funding its operations, including the production of new movies and TV series. Also as part of the bankruptcy reorganization, MGM cut about 50 jobs.
Before the reorganization, MGM was in desperate need of some revitalization. The studio faced stiff competition from its rivals, which include bigger studio groups such as Fox Filmed Entertainment and Warner Bros. In response, MGM reined in its production slate to just a few titles a year, most of which it produced in partnership with other studios. Its only release in 2009 was the remake of Fame; in 2010 it released Hot Tub Time Machine that disappointed at the box office.
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