Amazon Studios Head Jennifer Salke Adds MGM Studios Oversight

Jennifer Salke, head of Amazon Studios since 2018, will also oversee the venerable MGM Studios Amazon acquired this year for $8.5 billion. The move was announced in a Nov. 29 staff memo from Mike Hopkins, SVP, Prime Video, Amazon Studios. Separately, Chris Brearton, who was COO at MGM, will now be vice president of PVS Corporate Strategy, MGM+ and MGM Alternative Television.

Longtime television producer Mark Burnett, who was chairman of MGM Television, left the studio earlier this week to return to independent production. Burnett has produced almost 4,000 hours of television programming (notably “The Voice”; “Survivor”; “Shark Tank”; “The Handmaid’s Tale”), which regularly airs in more than 70 countries worldwide.

“Jen’s outstanding reputation in the creative community has earned her the respect of Hollywood’s top talent throughout the industry,” Hopkins wrote. “With Jen now having oversight of both studios – along with distribution and all creative marketing – creatives will have a single point of entry for the opportunity to showcase their content across all our platforms.”

Amazon Studios is ending 2022 having launched the most expensive original television series ever, “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power”.  Other high profile Prime Video content includes “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan,” “The Boys,” The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” and reality show, “Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Grrrls”. Movies include Borat Subsequent Movie Film and The Tomorrow War.

Amazon Prime Video to Make All James Bond Movies Available on Oct. 5

Prime Video will make available all 25 James Bond movies to stream beginning on Oct. 5 — the day 60 years ago the first Bond movie, Dr. No, introduced Sean Connery as Agent 007 to moviegoers worldwide.

The limited-time streaming option, unveiled in a marketing trailer to Prime Video’s 1.6 million YouTube subscribers, celebrates the franchise’s history and underscores Amazon recent $8 billion purchase of Bond’s home studio, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

The two-minute trailer melds every actor who has played Bond with iconic scenes, including the short-lived George Lazenby, who replaced Connery for one movie, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and incredibly turned down a subsequent multiple Bond movie deal worth millions of dollars to pursue other interests.

In addition to theatrical, Bond movies have been a mainstay in home entertainment over the years, including selling millions of physical and digital copies on Amazon.

Prime Video also released a trailer featuring the most iconic sounds of James Bond movies.

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Amazon, MGM Studios Complete $8.5 Billion Merger

Amazon and MGM Studios March 17 announced the completion of their $8.5 billion merger first announced in May 2021. The companies made the announcement after the deadline for the Federal Trade Commission to block the deal passed. Amazon now gets access to MGM’s library of more than 4,000 movies, including the lucrative “James Bond” franchise, and 17,000 TV shows. The European Union March 15 gave its regulatory approval of the transaction.

“MGM has a nearly century-long legacy of producing exceptional entertainment, and we share their commitment to delivering a broad slate of original films and television shows to a global audience,” Mike Hopkins, SVP of Prime Video and Amazon Studios, said in a statement. “We welcome MGM employees, creators, and talent to Prime Video and Amazon Studios, and we look forward to working together to create even more opportunities to deliver quality storytelling to our customers.”

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Chris Brearton, chief operating officer of MGM, welcomed joining the Amazon Prime Video platform.

“MGM has been responsible for the creation of some of the most well-known and critically acclaimed films and television series of the past century,” he said. “We look forward to continuing that tradition as we head into this next chapter, coming together with the great team at Prime Video and Amazon Studios to provide audiences with the very best in entertainment for years to come.”

Amazon’s $8.45 Billion MGM Studios Acquisition Gets European Union Approval

Amazon’s $8.45 billion acquisition of MGM Studios cleared a major hurdle March 15 after the European Union gave its approval on the transaction, which has international implications. The deal must still pass U.S. regulatory (Federal Trade Commission) scrutiny to become finalized.

In its ruling, the EU, which represents 28 countries, including France and Germany, found that Amazon and MGM don’t have overlapping business interests and that MGM movies, which include the James Bond franchise, “cannot be considered as must-have.”

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Amazon has reportedly asked that the FTC make a decision by the middle of this month whether it would further investigate the transaction. Without an objection, Amazon said it would move ahead with the transaction.

Regardless, Amazon (and other U.S. tech companies) remains in the EU crosshairs regarding its e-commerce business allegedly operating afoul of antitrust laws, including harming smaller local businesses, among other issues.

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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Paramount Theatrical Releases to Stream on Branded SVOD Service 30 to 45 Days After Box Office Release

The pending Paramount+ subscription streaming service will offer access to some Paramount Pictures theatrical releases as early as 30 to 45 days after their box office debut. The SVOD service launches March 4 with a $9.99 ad-free plan, followed in June by a $4.99 monthly ad-supported option.

The higher-priced ad-free plan offers more exclusive content.

The shortened theatrical window, which underscores ongoing industry changes while remaining loyal to the traditional exhibition market, was announced Feb. 24 in a special investor presentation by ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish.

Paramount titles on tap in 2021 include Top Gun: Maverick with Tom Cruise; A Quiet Place II; The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run (available on the streaming service at launch as well as PVOD rental March 4); Coming 2 America (sold to Amazon Prime Video); Mission: Impossible 7; The Saint; Clifford the Big Red Dog; sci-fi movies including The Tomorrow War and Infinite; and Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins, among others.

Third-party studio movies, including MGM Studios, will also be available on Paramount+ 90 days after their box office debut.

Films that are released from theatrical to Paramount+ also will be available, simultaneously, through traditional home entertainment channels, including disc and transactional video.

Some marquee titles, including Top Gun: Maverick and Clifford the Big Red Dog, will follow traditional release patterns, from theatrical to transactional home entertainment (disc and digital).

Original films that are being produced specifically for Paramount+ also will be released later through transactional home entertainment channels.

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“As we always have, we believe in the power of theatrical releases and we have faith that after things get back to normal audiences will enthusiastically return to theaters,” Jim Gianopulos, CEO of Paramount Pictures, said on the webcast. “At the same time, consumers have increasingly embraced streaming as another way to enjoy films. Our strategy accounts for both.”

Separately, Paramount+ in early 2022 will be the exclusive home to Halo, a feature-length movie based on the venerable video game franchise. In addition, the studio and MGM-owned Epix announced an expansion of an existing distribution agreement whereby select MGM titles will be available first on the premium channel before made available to Paramount+. Titles include House of Gucci, Creed III and the delayed latest James Bond movie No Time to Die.


Epix Joining Comcast, Launching Movie Streaming Platform

MGM-owned Epix Dec. 10 revealed is has joined Comcast’s Xfinity TV premium package nationwide. As part of an expanded carriage agreement announced in October, Xfinity TV subscribers have access to Epix’s lineup of movies and original series.

Launched in October 2009 by Lionsgate, Viacom and MGM, Epix is available nationwide through cable, telco, satellite and emerging digital distribution platforms as well as through the Epix Now app, providing more movies than any other network with thousands of titles available for streaming.

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Epix original content includes “Godfather of Harlem,” starring and executive produced by Forest Whitaker; “Pennyworth,” the origin story of Batman’s butler Alfred; “Perpetual Grace, LTD,” starring Sir Ben Kingsley; “Get Shorty,” featuring Chris O’Dowd and Ray Romano; spy thriller “Deep State”; and docuseries “NFL: The Grind,” from NFL Films and hosted by Rich Eisen; “PUNK” from John Varvatos and Iggy Pop; as well as upcoming premieres of new series “Belgravia,” from Julian Fellowes; docuseries “Slow Burn,” based on the hit podcast, and “Laurel Canyon”.

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Epix, Dec. 12 will also launch ScreenPix, a suite of library channels offering a curated collection of classic movies, uncut and commercial free. The ScreenPix suite includes ScreenPix; ScreenPix: Action; ScreenPix: Westerns; and ScreenPix: Voices, a channel dedicated to diverse voices. ScreenPix will also be available to Xfinity Digital Preferred subscribers.

Netflix’s Stephen Bruno Joins MGM as Chief Marketing Officer

Metro Goldwyn Mayer March 21 announced it has hired marketing executive Stephen Bruno as chief marketing officer. Bruno joins the studio from Netflix and will start in April.

Bruno, who has been VP, global marketing at Netflix since 2015, will oversee global marketing and brand strategy for MGM and its film and television properties. He will work with CCO Christopher Brearton, as well as Mark Burnett, chairman of MGM’s worldwide television group, Nancy Tellem, executive director, and Jonathan Glickman, president of MGM Studios’ motion picture group, to promote the MGM brand and all of the Company’s film and television projects and properties.

He will also work with teams throughout MGM to identify and execute on marketing opportunities that tap into the loyal following of its historic library while also attracting new audiences around the world.

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“Stephen is a creative industry leader and we are excited to welcome him to MGM as we build on our momentum as a leading independent content creator backed by an iconic library of brands,” Burnett and Brearton said in a co-statement. “He has been at the forefront of developing disruptive marketing executions in traditional and emerging media spaces across the globe.”

The executives said Bruno would be especially invaluable to United Artists Releasing as the newly-expanded venture furthers the studio’s legacy.

At Netflix, Bruno oversaw the global teams responsible for conceptualizing, creating and executing on the positioning and promotion of the streaming service’s originals across all verticals including series, “Stranger Things,”“13 Reasons Why,” “Orange is the New Black,” “The Crown,” “Narcos,” feature films, Bird BoxMudboundTo All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, documentaries and unscripted, Wild Wild CountryMaking a MurdererQueer EyeNailed It, and comedy specials.

Prior to Netflix, Bruno worked at The Weinstein Company and Miramax Films, supervising the execution of several theatrical releases including Django UnchainedSilver Linings PlaybookLee Daniel’s The ButlerThe Artist, and Fruitvale Station. Bruno also worked at HBO as a Director of Consumer Marketing working on titles such as Curb Your Enthusiasm and Eastbound and Down.



MGM Studios Ups Q3 Home Entertainment Revenue 30%

MGM Studios Nov. 15 reported third-quarter (ended Sept. 30) home entertainment revenue of $21.8 million, which was up 30% from revenue of $16.9 million during the previous-year period.

The studio attributed the increase to digital sales of Tomb Raider and ongoing domestic home entertainment distribution of Death Wish and Every Day, plus continued distribution of library content.

Indeed, the Tomb Raider prequel rebootwith Alicia Vikander reprising Angelina Jolie’s Lara Croft character, has generated $12.6 million in combined DVD/Blu-ray Disc units sales since its June 12 release by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, according to The film is the 28th best-selling disc in 2018.

Death Wish, starring Bruce Willis in a remake of the classic 1973 revenge thriller that starred the late Charles Bronson, has sold $7.4 million in disc sales since its June 5 retail street date.

Home entertainment revenue for the prior-year’s quarter primarily included distribution of The Belko Experiment, The Magnificent Seven and library content.

In television programming, home entertainment and related revenue was $7.9 million, which was largely in line with $8 million in revenue last year. Revenue in each period was primarily driven by the strong retail performance of The Handmaid’s Tale (seasons 1 and 2).

The latter doesn’t include disc sales of season 2, which isn’t available until Dec. 4 from MGM Studios Home Entertainment.

Through nine months of the fiscal year, home entertainment movie revenue is up 16% to $78.1 million from $67.5 million last year. Revenue drivers included previously mentioned movie titles, in addition to ongoing revenue from Spectre, The Hobbit trilogy and additional library content.

Television program home entertainment revenue increased 26% to $26.9 million from $21.3 million last year – again driven by The Handmaid’s Tale.

MGM Studios Home Entertainment Revenue No ‘Death Wish’

Home entertainment sales of movies and TV shows has come back strong for MGM Studios.

The venerable studio Aug. 14 said second-quarter (ended June 30) global home entertainment revenue for film content topped $37.1 million, an increase of $18.2 million, or 97%, as compared to $18.9 million in revenue for the previous-year period.

Primary (physical and digital) drivers included the domestic home entertainment reboots of Death Wish, starring Bruce Willis, and Tomb Raider, featuring Alicia Vikander, plus ongoing distribution of library content. By comparison, home entertainment revenue for the prior-year quarter included distribution of Spectre, The Hobbit trilogy and other library content.

Home entertainment and other revenue for television content reached $8.5 million, up $3.8 million, or 79%, as compared to $4.7 million last year. The increase was primarily driven by the continued strong home entertainment performance of “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

Through the first six month of the year, worldwide home entertainment revenue for film content reached $56.3 million, an increase of $5.6 million, or 11%, as compared to $50.7 million for the six months ended June 30, 2017.

Home entertainment and other revenue for TV content was $19 million for the six months, an increase of $5.7 million, or 43%, as compared to $13.3 million last year.