The sad state of MGM

by Paul William Tenny

MGM logo

I've been telling people for a while that the best way to think about MGM is to pretend that it went bankrupt over a year ago, and is well past the point where most companies would have filed for chapter 11. Walking dead, walking bankrupt, whatever does it for you.

This is the primary reason (and perhaps only reason) there haven't been more straight-to-DVD Stargate films, despite scripts having been written and paid for long ago. It's not that the actors got bored with the franchise and moved on, or anything like that. MGM can't afford it, and even if they could, MGM's isn't calling the shots anymore.

MGM's creditors tried to sell the company intact to a number of other studios and media congloms like Time Warner. Nobody offered more than $1.5 billion for a company carrying nearly $4 billion in debt, and that figure was only achieved after the suitor was the last man standing, leaving MGM's creditors with no leverage to ask for more.

The best hope for the Stargate franchise was to see a company like Time Warner buy MGM intact, sell off some of its assets, and merge what was left into its Warner Brothers operations. I don't know what WB's philosophy is for DVD movies, but as I understand it, the Stargate movies have made money and there is clearly a market for more of them.

If MGM ends up in bankruptcy, the entire studio and its library of films and rights may be sold off in auctions where Stargate may not look as attractive. While it is profitable, that margin is probably not huge, which may cause buyers to bid for something else not wanting to take risks. And if that doesn't sound bad enough, the LA Times reported last month that the next Bond flick -- as close to a sure thing as you can get but expensive as hell to produce -- has been indefinitely shelved by MGM for lack of funding.

The Red Dawn remake which MGM already spent $75 million making, has reportedly been shelved too, despite being complete, because MGM can't afford to market and release it.

Right now it looks like the creditors would like another studio like Summit (Twilight series) to come in and manage MGM's operations to bring it back to profitability after a turn around specialist CEO couldn't get the job done. That would keep the Stargate franchise at MGM and alive, but wouldn't necessarily be something Summit would spend money on right now. If ever.

Hard to tell, but things haven't really improved over there and until the money starts flowing again, the Stargate franchise will have to stick to television.

in Business, Film, Television


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Didn't MGM go bankrupt before and that was how Ted Turner ended up owning like its entire library at the time? (Hence why the Bond movies, Wizard of Oz, Gone With The Wind all showed up repeatedly on TBS & TNT.)

I guess MGM hasn't learned from the past and is still hoping for a miracle.

What a shame, since the Stargate franchise is a money maker - not a super profitable one, but a steady income generator with the merchandise stream that's out there for it.
MGM should reconsider TimeWarner's offer. TimeWarner has a history of re-releasing movies in it's vault turning them into a money machine. LionsGate Entertainment is a good company with no real outlet such as TBS or HBO. TimeWarner has the clout to revive MGM. I understand that MGM is looking to please Debt holders, but that is a tried and tried solution that has never worked. How many more times should MGM fail due to management and Debt holders faulty solutions. TimeWarner would keep Stargate. Just look at what they've done to the v series. They have turn around a old failed idea. Let's give them the shot. I would love to see TimeWarner buy MGM and Lionsgate. One could be for low budget films and the other for medium productions while Warner Brothers handles high profile films. A dream team.

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