Amazon is acquiring MGM, the studio behind James Bond and Rocky, for $8.45 billion

no time to die
Daniel Craig as James Bond in “No Time to Die.”

Amazon is acquiring film studio MGM for $8.45 billion, it announced Wednesday.

Amazon’s acquisition of MGM Studios could mean a big expansion of Amazon Prime‘s streaming inventory to include MGM’s big-name movies and TV shows. These include the James Bond, Rocky, Creed, and Pink Panther franchises, alongside “Legally Blonde” and “A Star Is Born.” Its TV shows include “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “Fargo,” “Shark Tank,” and “The Real Housewives.”

“The real financial value behind this deal is the treasure trove of IP in the deep catalog that we plan to reimagine and develop together with MGM’s talented team,” Mike Hopkins, senior vice president of Prime Video and Amazon Studios, said in a press release.

Amazon said that completion of the transaction was subject to regulatory approvals.

Industry sources told Insider that Amazon had been at the table for months. One person close to talks also said another major media company had made a lower bid and had been rejected from the process last week.

The Wall Street Journal reported in December that MGM was exploring a sale. The company had already started a formal sale process, and prospective buyers had been expressing interest since last spring, per The Journal’s report, which also cited people who said the company had a market value of $5.5 billion.

Other companies were also in the running to acquire MGM, including ViacomCBS and Sony Pictures Entertainment, per the report. One person close to talks also said a major media company had made a $6 billion bid and had been rejected from the process last week.

Jeffrey Wlodarczak, principal and entertainment and interactive subscription services analyst at Pivotal Research Group, said that Apple and Comcast were also “logical” other bidders, in an analyst note seen by Insider.

MGM’s catalog would bolster up Amazon’s portfolio

Like the rest of the film industry, MGM was hit by the coronavirus pandemic, and it had to push back the release of the next Bond installment, “No Time To Die.”

Its revenue dropped 3% year-over-year to $1.5 billion in 2020. Its film segment was the worst hit, with an 83% fall in revenue from theatrical releases, as movie theaters closed or operated at lower capacity.

But the company was saved by its deep catalog, which includes about 4,000 films and 17,000 TV episodes, and its chief operating officer, Christopher Brearton, said in the company’s third-quarter earnings announcement that 2021 could be its biggest-ever year for new content.

Amazon has been knuckling down on investment in its media division as demand for streaming has boomed during the pandemic.

Last month, Amazon’s streaming service surpassed 200 million Prime members worldwide – 175 million of whom streamed Prime Video content in the past year, according to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who said streaming hours were up more than 70% year-over-year.

The company said it made $7.6 billion – or about 7% of its total net sales – from its subscription services in the first quarter of 2021.

One Hollywood executive told Insider that thanks to Amazon’s distribution deal with premium TV and movie service Epix, which was acquired by MGM, “Amazon Prime Video has data on every movie played in the eco-system and they know how Bond, Creed, and Rocky perform.”

“They know on a household basis, on a geographic basis what titles are popping in 40 million-50 million households,” the executive said. “And that was the valuation equation that drove the price up.” In the end, price back and forth price negotiations meant Amazon’s deal came in a little lower than the $9 billion figure suggested in early reports.

Wlodarczak said in the Pivotal Research Group note, sent before the deal was finalized, that Amazon was “massively overpaying,” but that this investment was needed to stay competitive with Netflix.

“Amazon Prime’s originals hit rate appears dramatically below Netflix since launching in 2013, with frankly pretty limited hit success rate,” he said. He said that hits are important because they drive usage of Prime, which in turn creates “stickier” customers for Amazon’s other services.

Wlodarczak said that by acquiring MGM, Amazon would get a “decent but in my view tired” catalog.

He said that, adjusted for inflation, James Bond is the third-highest grossing film franchise of all time behind Marvel and Star Wars, but that “recent results have been trending in the wrong direction.” Of recent releases from the franchise, only Daniel Craig’s 2012 “Skyfall” has made it to the top 10 Bond box office results, adjusted for inflation, he said.

MGM only owns half of the Bond franchise. Producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson still have final say on the franchise’s direction, Insider’s Travis Clark reported, meaning there won’t be a Prime Video Bond TV series without their approval.

The sale to Amazon is a stunning finale for a studio brand that a decade ago was deeply in debt. MGM sold to Sony and a group of investors including private equity firm Providence Equity for $3 billion plus $1.9 billion in debt back in 2004.

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‘The Father,’ winner of 2 Oscars at the 2021 Academy Awards, is now available to stream at home

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“The Father” is now available to buy through video-on-demand (VOD) streaming retailers for $20.

The movie follows an elderly man, Anthony (Anthony Hopkins), who is dealing with dementia. Golden Globe-winning actress Olivia Colman stars as Anthony’s daughter Anne. The film is based on Florian Zeller’s play of the same name, and marks Zeller’s feature-length directorial debut.

You can buy “The Father” through a variety of digital retailers following its two wins at the 2021 Academy Awards. The film’s six Oscar nominations included nods for best picture, best actor (Hopkins), best supporting actress (Colman), best adapted screenplay (Zeller and Christopher Hampton), best film editing, and best production design. Hopkins took home the award for best actor while Zeller and Hampton won the award for best adapted screenplay.

In addition to two wins at the 2021 British Academy Film Awards, “The Father” also received four nominations at the Golden Globes and two nominations at the Screen Actors Guild Awards.

How to watch ‘The Father’

“The Father” is available to buy through a number of VOD streaming retailers, including Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, Vudu, Google Play, Microsoft, FandangoNow, and AMC. You can rent the film starting May 18, the same day it becomes available on DVD and Blu-ray.

The movie costs $20 to buy and it’s also available to watch at select theaters nationwide.

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VOD retailers offer the film in a number of formats including 4K with HDR, high definition (HD), and standard definition (SD). Before you select a 4K format, you should check to see if your device supports it.

What other 2021 Oscar nominees are available to watch?

Aside from “The Father,” a number of other 2021 best picture nominees are available through VOD rental services. These films include “Minari,” “Promising Young Woman,” and “Judas and the Black Messiah.”

Other films are available on subscription streaming services, including best picture winner “Nomadland” on Hulu. “The Trial of the Chicago 7” and “Mank” are exclusive to Netflix. “Sound of Metal,” starring Riz Ahmed, is streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

You can see a full list of 2021 Oscar winners and nominations here.

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‘Minari’ is one of the top nominees at this year’s Oscars – here’s how to watch the movie at home while it’s still in theaters

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Minari
“Minari” is directed by Lee Isaac Chung

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In February, “Minari” took home the award for best foreign language film at the 2021 Golden Globes. And now, the film has a chance to grab even more honors at the 2021 Academy Awards on April 25. The movie is up for a total of six Oscars.

“Minari” is a drama following a Korean-American family’s move to Arkansas in the 1980s. It touches on many topics related to the “American Dream” and the obstacles that immigrants face in this country. The film features “The Walking Dead” star Steven Yeun, and is inspired by director Lee Isaac Chung’s life growing up in America.

“Minari” is nominated for best picture, best directing (Chung), best actor in a leading role (Yeun), best actress in a supporting role (Youn Yuh-jung), best original screenplay, and best original score at the 2021 Academy Awards.

Critics and audiences are giving the film widespread acclaim, leading to a 98% “Certified Fresh” rating and a 91% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. Insider critic Jacob Sarkisian gave the film an “A+” rating in his full review and called it “a perfect movie that will move you with every scene.”

If you want to see the film before the Oscars air on April 25, you can watch it now in theaters or through video-on-demand (VOD) streaming services.

How to watch ‘Minari’

“Minari” became available to stream through VOD platforms on February 26. The film also remains in a number of theaters if you’d prefer to see it on the big screen.

The movie is available to rent through Vudu, Prime Video, Redbox, Fandango Now, Google Play, Apple TV, and the Microsoft Store.

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All of these options feature a digital rental price of $20, although rental times vary. Typically, most platforms will let you watch a movie during a 30-day period and give you 48 hours to watch it once you start it up. The movie is available in 4K Ultra HD with HDR, high definition (HD), and standard definition (SD) through select services.

You should check with the platform first to confirm its rental period limits and to see if it offers high-quality viewing options. Digital rental services are available on a variety of media devices and smart TVs. You can find more information about how to rent movies online here.

How to watch other Oscar-nominated films

In addition to “Minari,” you can stream several other movies nominated for best picture at the 2021 Academy Awards.

“Sound of Metal” starring Riz Ahmed is available on Prime Video. The streaming service alone costs $9 a month, although it can be paired with Amazon Prime for $13 a month or $119 a year.

Meanwhile, “Promising Young Woman” starring Carey Mulligan is available via a number of video-on-demand platforms, like Vudu and FandangoNow. “The Father” will also be available to purchase through VOD services starting March 26.

Nomadland,” which is up for six Oscars, is streaming right now on Hulu. There are several ways you can watch Hulu, but our recommendation is to take advantage of the $13 a month bundle that includes ESPN+ and Disney Plus. The bundle will also give you access to other Oscar-nominated films, like “Onward” and “Soul” on Disney Plus.

Finally, “The Trial of the Chicago 7” and “Mank” are both available exclusively on Netflix. You can subscribe to Netflix for as low as $9 a month.

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LA movie theaters could reopen as soon as this weekend, according to California Gov. Gavin Newsom

tcl chinese theater amc los angeles la movie hollywood boulevard
This Tuesday, March 31, 2015 photo shows the interior of the TCL Chinese Theater on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles. The Chinese Theatre, one of the largest Imax theaters in the world, is one of more than a dozen locations that Imax expects to outfit with laser projection this year.

  • Los Angeles, America’s largest movie market, could re-open movie theaters as soon as this weekend.
  • California Gov. Gavin Newsom said theaters could re-open if certain COVID-related goals are met.
  • If allowed to re-open, LA theaters will still have to limit capacity to just 25%.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Los Angeles isn’t just where movies are made, it’s also the largest movie-going market in America.

And during the last 12 months, LA movie theaters have been closed due to the ongoing pandemic. That could finally end this weekend, according to California Gov. Gavin Newsom.

If Los Angeles County meets two critical metrics for new cases and vaccinations, Los Angeles movie theaters will be able to re-open with 25% capacity starting this Saturday.

In order to meet the criteria, LA County would need to have fewer than 1,000 new cases per day, CNBC reported. Additionally, statewide, 2 million vaccine doses must be administered to underserved populations.

During an address on Wednesday, Newsom said both metrics were on track to be met before the weekend.

Vehicles are parked at the first drive-in movie theatre for people to enjoy movies while keeping social distancing amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Bangkok, Thailand, July 2, 2020. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha
The first drive-in movie theatre amid the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in Bangkok, Thailand.

Movie theaters in other parts of the US have already begun reopening as vaccines protecting against COVID have begun to roll out. New York City, for instance, reopened theaters last week at 25% capacity.

And some states, including Texas and Connecticut, have cleared theaters and other businesses for even larger reopenings without low capacity requirements.

Got a tip? Contact Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert via email (bgilbert@insider.com), or Twitter DM (@realbengilbert). We can keep sources anonymous. Use a non-work device to reach out. PR pitches by email only, please.

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Disney’s CEO explains how the pandemic has forever changed our relationship with cinema

Bob Chapek
Walt Disney CEO Bob Chapek said moviegoers’ relationship with cinema has changed forever.

  • Disney’s CEO said audiences’ relationship with theaters had changed forever, Bloomberg reported.
  • Bob Chapek said viewers would no longer accept a gap between a theater and on-demand releases.
  • Disney will close 60 North American stores and triple its Plus subscribers to 230 million by 2024.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Walt Disney CEO Bob Chapek said moviegoers’ relationship with cinema had changed forever due to the pandemic and that the effects will last in the long-term, Bloomberg reported.

Speaking at a media and technology conference hosted by Morgan Stanley, Chapek said the old approach with a gap between when a movie comes out in theaters and when it is available on-demand wasn’t “viable anymore.”

“The consumer is probably more impatient than they’ve ever been before, particularly since now they’ve had the luxury of an entire year of getting titles at home pretty much when they want them,” Chapek said. “I’m not sure there’s going back.”

According to Bloomberg, Disney had the largest market share of any movie distributor before the pandemic hit, so any shift in focus to streaming will definitely be felt in movie theaters.

The media giant owns four streaming services – Disney Plus, Hulu, ESPN Plus, and Star, with tailored versions for key international markets.

In February, the company announced its flagship service Disney Plus had hit 95 million subscribers, bringing the total number of subscriptions across all streaming services to 146 million, according to an earnings report.

Disney expects to treble the number of Disney Plus subscribers to between 230 and 260 million by 2024 and will double its investment in original content to about $15 billion over the next four years.

On Wednesday, the company announced it would shut 60 stores across North America to focus on a “more flexible, interconnected e-commerce experience.”

“This is the perfect time to make operational changes,” said Chapek, who took over the reins at Disney in February 2020 from former CEO Bob Iger.

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‘Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry’ focuses on the pop star’s rise to fame – here’s how to watch the documentary on Apple TV Plus

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Billie Eilish
  • “The World’s a Little Blurry” is a new documentary that examines the life of pop star Billie Eilish.
  • You can stream the movie with an Apple TV Plus subscription starting February 26.
  • To celebrate the release, a live event will stream for free via Apple TV and YouTube on February 25.

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Before she rose to stardom, Billie Eilish began her career by releasing songs with her brother on the internet. Just a few short years later, she’s become one of the music industry’s biggest stars, and even took home the 2020 Grammy Award for Best New Artist. 

The World’s a Little Blurry,” a new documentary airing on Apple TV Plus, will cover the musician’s path to becoming a pop star. Fans will get a look at Eilish’s family life and her preparation for her debut LP “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?”

Leading up to the movie’s premiere on Friday, fans can catch a live streaming event hosted by DJ Zane Lowe on February 25, complete with a performance and interview with Eilish. Here’s how you can tune in to learn more about the life and career of Billie Eilish.

How to watch ‘Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry’

“Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry” will debut on Apple TV Plus on February 26. Prior to the premiere, a live performance and interview will be streamed at 9 p.m. ET on February 25. You can watch the live event for free on Apple TV, Billie Eilish’s YouTube channel, and Apple Music. All of the streaming services offer free versions of their respective apps for iOS, Android, and smart devices.

After the live event wraps up, the documentary will become available to Apple TV Plus subscribers to watch on demand.

How to sign up for Apple TV Plus

Apple TV Plus costs $5 a month, and new members can receive a free seven-day trial. The Apple TV Plus app is available on Apple devices, most smart TVs, Amazon Fire TV devices, Roku devices, Chromecast, Xbox, and Playstation. 

If you have recently bought a new iPhone or Macbook, or plan to buy a new Apple device, Apple is giving away one year of Apple TV Plus for free with qualified purchases. Aside from the new Billie Eilish documentary, Apple TV Plus features a growing selection of original programs, such as “The Morning Show,” “Central Park,” and “Beastie Boys Story.” 

Students can save even more on Apple TV Plus if they sign up for an account with Apple Music. If you go to a college or university, you’re able to score the music streaming service for $5 per month. In addition to Apple Music, Apple will toss in access to Apple TV Plus for free.

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