Amazon founder, chairman and CEO Jeff Bezos said the ecommerce giant’s $8.45 billion bid for MGM was driven by a desire to obtain the storied studio’s intellectual property — and create new offshoots based on that.
“We’re looking forward to reimagining and developing the deep catalog of MGM,” said Bezos, speaking Wednesday at Amazon’s annual shareholders meeting.
He continued, “The acquisition’s thesis here is really very simple: MGM has a vast, deep catalog of much-loved intellectual property. With the talented people at MGM and Amazon Studios, we can reimagine and develop that IP for the 21s century… People who love stories are going to be the big beneficiaries.”
After weeks in negotiations, Amazon on Wednesday announced a definitive agreement to acquire MGM for $8.45 billion (including debt).
In his remarks, Bezos cited MGM films and franchises including “James Bond,” “Thelma and Louise,” “Raging Bull,” “Robocop” and “Tomb Raider,” as well as TV shows like “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Vikings.”
More broadly than MGM, Bezos said that not all of Amazon’s big bets and investments will pay off — and that, in fact, many of them will fail. “The only way to get above-average returns is to take risks and many won’t pay off. Our whole history as a company is about taking risks, many of which have failed and many of which will fail,” he said.
One of MGM’s crown jewels is the James Bond movie franchise. On Wednesday, producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson said they are committed to keeping the iconic British spy in theaters, even with Amazon’s takeover of MGM. Meanwhile, the Bond producers, who retain an unusual amount of control over the franchise, also have resisted having the character appear in spinoffs or TV shows.
Bezos is set to step down as CEO on July 5, to be succeeded by Andy Jassy, currently CEO of Amazon Web Services (AWS).
Separately, ahead of Amazon’s MGM deal announcement, the company said that former high-ranking exec Jeff Blackburn will return in June to lead a consolidated Amazon media and entertainment group. Blackburn’s purview will include Amazon Studios, Prime Video, Amazon Music, podcaster Wondery, games, Twitch and (once the deal closes) MGM.
Amazon’s $8.45 billion payout represents a comparatively big expansion in the company’s entertainment footprint. In 2020, the company spent $11 billion on TV shows, movies and music for Prime services — up 40% from the year prior.