Amazon’s $8.5B MGM merger shows how little has changed in Hollywood since MGM was born on April 26, 1924.
Theatre magnate Marcus Loew needed a dependable source of product for his cinemas. The content was king then, and it still is. Amazon now has a pipeline to tap into for event content like Bond films. No streamer can achieve that on its own, no matter how deep its pockets are. MGM also brings Amazon a 4,000 films library — IP no one can possibly match.
It brings to mind Loew, a pioneer exhibitor whose theatres dominated New York 100 years ago. He already owned a Hollywood studio, Metro Pictures, which he bought in 1919 for $3M. It had an okay distribution arm but couldn’t produce enough movies. Loew had great theatres and wanted to play more films to keep audiences coming back. He also knew Metro wasn’t making what people wanted to see.
Rather than close Metro, Loew decided to merge it with a bigger studio and found a company that had most of what he needed. Financially troubled Goldwyn Pictures had a 46-acre state-of-the-art lot in Culver City, a strong team of writers, directors & actors, a roaring lion logo (pictured) & the trademark “ARS GRATIA ARTIS.” It also lacked one key ingredient Loew wanted.