Amazon announced on May 26, 2021, that it will be buying MGM. With the purchase, the online giant gains ownership of James Bond, Pink Panther, Legally Blonde, Silence of the Lambs, and other well-loved franchises.
The $8.45 billion deal is part of the ongoing “arms race” among streaming services. Over 200 million people have access to Amazon Prime Video, the company’s streaming service, nearly as many as Netflix’s 207 million, but fewer than a tenth of those use it. Most people subscribed to Amazon Prime use it for shipping or music, not video streaming.
MGM is one of the oldest studies in Hollywood. The oldest films in its catalog, from 1924, are silent. But in the 1980s, the studio sold off many of its largest hits, including The Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind. Even their lot was sold to Sony. Since then, the studio has stayed one step ahead of bankruptcy while going through a parade of owners. The lukewarm success of recent James Bond films hasn’t helped, especially as those proceeds had to be split between MGM and Eon Productions, who also control the films.
Amazon already has its own established studio, with a few Emmys and Oscars under its belt, but MGM’s addition gives them a connection to filmmaking history, as well as more than 4,000 movies and 17,000 TV shows.
Before the deal can be finalized, the U.S. Department of Justice will investigate to ensure that Amazon buying MGM doesn’t violate American antitrust laws, which regulate monopolies. Amazon has run afoul of antitrust suits before, with the most recent being filed earlier this week in Washington D.C.
“This is a major acquisition that has the potential to impact millions of consumers,” said Senator Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat from Minnesota. “The Department of Justice must conduct a thorough investigation to ensure that this deal won’t risk harming competition.”
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