MGM is one of the oldest Hollywood studios around. They’re responsible for film franchises like James Bond and the Stargate series and movies. This is the studio behind The Wizard of Oz. Their library of content is massive. But during a pandemic where people just aren’t visiting movie theaters, what does that get you? Unlike Disney, MGM hasn’t launched their own streaming service. Without a way to earn on their properties, it’s looking like MGM is now having conversations about sales, possibly for their entire movie studio.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the studio has been talking to two investment banks, Morgan Stanley and LionTree LLC, while they explore the potential of a sale. MGM has estimated the worth of the company at $5.5 billion. Their long term debts reach $2.3 billion. There is a debate to be had over who will be willing and able to pay a $5.5 billion price tag for the company. Reports make it sound like MGM believes a streaming service would greatly benefit from MGM’s vast library. While some of their franchises, like Stargate, are on streaming services, many of them have yet to join the streaming revolution. However, whether a streaming service would be willing to handle that price tag is unclear. Netflix has established their streaming service with original content, but companies like Apple TV+ and HBO Max are still building a curated content library.
Many of MGM’s properties are already available for streaming. Stargate is a strong example. All ten seasons of Stargate SG-1 are currently up on Netflix in the USA, and Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis, and Stargate Universe are up on Hulu. Stargate is leaving Amazon Prime at the end of December, but there’s always room for it to return. While we’re used to seeing streaming rights sold exclusively, MGM has been experimenting with selling rights to multiple companies and that’s been working for them so far, or at least it has with Stargate.
As far as MGM franchises go, a streaming service could do well to pick up the rights to the Stargate universe. Brad Wright, co-creator of Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis, and Stargate Universe officially confirmed he’s been in conversations with MGM for a new series. While there are already several movies and three series in the franchise, there is definitely room for more.
MGM had been banking on their biggest release this year, No Time to Die. The 007 film would be MGM’s 25th installment. Currently, the release has been pushed back to April 2021, but it’s likely to be delayed again. Apple offered the studio $350 to $400 million for the rights to a streaming premiere. It’s been widely reported that the release date delay is costing MGM $1 million a month in interest. Still, MGM reportedly scoffed at Apple’s offer. Spectre released in theaters to a worldwide gross of $880 million, and Skyfall to $1.1 billion.
It’s unlikely we’ll have news about MGM moving forward with a sale until they make a move on the James Bond movie, No Time to Die. Whether they release it in April, sell it to a streaming service, or come up with a new plan, its financial success or failure will impact the studio’s decisions and cost evaluations moving forward.
In the meantime, does this mean they’re less likely to put money behind a new Stargate series? Surprisingly, it doesn’t seem that way. Even with No Time To Die on hold, the studio is still looking at growth. Whether this turns out to be for the sake of upping what they get in a buyout, or for finding a way forward past the pandemic, the studio is still in the game and putting out new properties. Hopefully, Brad Wright will have more news for us on a brand new series soon.