MGM’s Epix Linear/Streaming Platform to Relaunch as MGM+ in Early 2023

Amazon-owned MGM Holdings Sept. 28 announced that its linear and streaming service Epix will rebrand as MGM+ on Jan. 15, 2023, in conjunction with the season three premiere of “Godfather of Harlem.”

The show’s second season was Epix’s best performing season of all time, breaking records for single-title streams in a single day across the platform’s digital channels. The season two finale was Epix’s best-performing final episode to date. 

Epix was launched in 2009 in a co-partnership between MGM, Lionsgate and Paramount Pictures. MGM bought out the two partners’ stakes in 2017.

The new brand logo attempts embody the legacy of MGM, while at the same time orienting the brand toward the future. It reimagines the 100-year history of MGM’s classic art-deco typeface in a contemporary and forward-facing fashion. 

This rebrand is a promise to existing and new viewers that MGM+ is the place to find television that reflects and celebrates the legacy of the iconic MGM brand — cinematic programming with sophisticated storytelling that entertains, delights, surprises, and transports,” Michael Wright, head of MGM+, said in a statement. 

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The MGM+ service will offer a library of film titles from MGM and other major Hollywood Studios. The library of titles includes MGM theatrical hits No Time to Die, House of Gucci and Licorice Pizza; the James Bond movie franchise and the original “Rocky” titles and sequelsas well as classic releases Silence of the Lambs, Bull DurhamPlatoon, RobocopMississippi Burning, The Magnificent Seven, BarbershopThe Pink Panther, In the Heat of the Night, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, and The Thomas Crown Affair. 

MGM+ will continue to be available nationwide through cable, telco, satellite, and emerging digital distribution channels, as well as through its branded app.

Report: Amazon, MGM Acquisition Deal Imminent

Amazon’s reported $9 billion interest in MGM Holdings is reportedly set to happen as early as this week. The Wall Street Journal, citing sources familiar with the situation, reported the deal, which would jumpstart Amazon’s movie and TV show ambitions, would be the e-commerce retailer’s second-largest purchase following the $13.7 billion agreement to buy Whole Foods in 2017.

MGM, which is owned by private-equity group Anchorage Capital, has been on the sales block since last year — enticing would-be buyers with a 4,000-movie catalog that includes the “James Bond,” “Rocky,” “RoboCop,” “Pink Panther,” “Tomb Raider,” “Chucky” and “Legally Blonde” franchises, among others, in addition to TV show productions.

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Comcast, Apple Kicked MGM Tires, Valued Studio Less Than Amazon Does

NEWS ANALYSIS — With Amazon reportedly considering spending $9 billion to acquire MGM to supercharge its movie and TV production ambitions, questions remain just how valuable the vaunted Hollywood studio is.

MGM, which is owned by private-equity group Anchorage Capital, has been on the sales block since last year — enticing would-be buyers with a 4,000-movie catalog that includes the “James Bond,” “Rocky,” “RoboCop,” “Pink Panther,” “Tomb Raider,” “Chucky” and “Legally Blonde” franchises. Some of the titles would require new sequels to jumpstart renewed moviegoer interest. Comcast and Apple looked at the books and valued the studio at around $6 billion, according to the New York Times.

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Sanchit Jain, media analyst with Enders, believes Amazon would be willing to pay more since it eyes movies and TVs as a marketing extension of its Prime membership platform.

“They may be prepared to pay more because you get people into Prime Video, and two or three weeks later they go for fully charged Amazon Prime with e-commerce, music, etc.,” Jain said. “It makes the entry point to the Amazon flywheel more appealing. With Amazon it is all about subscription growth.”

While MGM Chairman Mike De Luca pitched Amazon the studio’s upcoming movie slate that includes biopic Respect, on the life and career of Aretha Franklin, starring Jennifer Hudson, and House of Gucci, starring Lady Gaga and Adam Driver — the fact remains MGM only controls 50% of the vaunted Bond franchise, with the remainder owned by Barbara Broccoli and her brother Michael Wilson through their production company. The siblings reportedly have total control on who plays Bond, script dialog, casting decisions, stunts and related marketing. Previous attempts to spin off the Bond character in TV series have been rebuffed by the sister and brother.

No Time to Die, the 25th Bond movie, and last with Daniel Craig in the title role after 15 years, is slated to hit theaters Oct. 8 after multiple delays due to the pandemic.

Amazon, which paid more than $13 billion for Whole Foods, is one of the few companies with the deep pockets required to pull the trigger on an acquisition. The e-commerce behemoth recently re-hired Jeff Blackburn, an architect of of its Prime streaming service, to head the company’s global media and entertainment operations. Jennifer Salke heads Amazon Studios — a studio that has remained loyal to the ever-shortening theatrical window.

“MGM is a production studio that, with an injection of capital, could do really great,” Tim Richards, CEO of the VUE theatrical chain in the U.K., told the Evening Standard. “When you have films that are grossing well in excess of $1 billion, any business in the world would look at that and not change the [business] model.”

Richards contends that until pandemic hit, the theatrical business was booming compared with declines in home entertainment.

“2019 was a $43 billion box office year,” he said. “This was growing every single year.”

 

MGM Seeks Epix Minority Financial Partner

A day after launching Epix Now, a standalone over-the-top video subscription service, MGM Holdings reportedly is seeking a financial partner for the branded multiplatform video distributor.

The corporate parent to MGM Studios paid $1 billion two years ago buying out 81% of Epix it didn’t own from partners Viacom and Lionsgate.

The Information.com, citing sources familiar with the situation, said Epix is looking for a fiscal partner to help it expand original programming development for the $5.99 monthly SVOD service as well as branded pay-TV channels.

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The report said MGM chairman Kevin Ulrich is working with investment bank LionTree Advisors with the aim of retaining majority control of Epix.

Last year, Epix bowed eight-episode espionage series, ‘Deep State,” season 2 of “Get Shorty,” boxing competition show, “The Contender,” and unscripted comedy show, “Unprotected Sets.”

Other original shows include “Berlin Station,”“Pennyworth,” a dark telling of the superhero origins of Batman butler Alfred Pennyworth from Warner Bros. and DC Comics, “The Godfather of Harlem,” a 10-episode crime drama starring Forest Whitaker; “Our Lady, LTD,”starring Ben Kingsley, “Slaughterhouse-Five”and “Shook Up,” as well as several other scripted and unscripted shows.

Epix — which represents the bulk of MGM’s media networks segment – generated $108.6 million in third-quarter revenue (ended Sept. 30, 2018), up 5% from revenue of $103 million during the previous-year period. The channel posted pre-tax earnings of $673,000 – down 98% from pre-tax earnings of $43.6 million last year.