Hollywood is buzzing about Amazon’s purchase of MGM Holdings and its massive library of movie and TV franchises, which reportedly accounts for approximately 4,000 individual films and 17,000 hours of TV content. To say that it’s a big deal is an understatement, as the $8.45 billion deal provides an injection of well-known entertainment properties into Amazon’s future plans at a time when Amazon Prime Video has struggled to match the brand recognition of in-house series and movie franchises owned by competitors like Netflix and Disney+.
So what does it all mean for the James Bond and Rocky franchises, among other MGM properties?
Unfortunately (for Amazon Prime Video subscribers, that is), this doesn’t mean we should expect to see Agent 007’s future adventures debut on Amazon anytime soon. Given the complicated nature of most movie deals, the outlook for many of MGM’s most prominent movie and TV brands will likely differ from one franchise to the next.
Here’s what we know so far about how some of MGM’s biggest franchises might be affected by the Amazon deal.
Although MGM produced nearly all of the James Bond movies, it doesn’t actually control the distribution side of the films — as in, when and how the film’s are released. That particular, extremely important aspect of the franchise is controlled by Eon Productions, and the studio was quick to release a statement reaffirming its commitment to give all future James Bond movies — including this October’s No Time To Die — a theatrical debut.
“We are committed to continuing to make James Bond films for the worldwide theatrical audience,” said Eon’s Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson in a statement released shortly after the Amazon deal was announced.
So, although James Bond fans shouldn’t expect to see the secret agent’s adventures premiere on Amazon Prime Video, there’s a good chance future installments of the franchise will call the streaming service home. Amazon will also play a big role — through MGM, of course — in shaping the next iteration of the franchise after current star Daniel Craig’s departure, which could entail the sort of negotiation with new partner Eon that results in a favorable decision for 007 fans with an Amazon subscription. As for the older James Bond films, the streaming rights to those titles remain in murky waters — but one should never underestimate the power of Amazon’s leverage in the world of streaming media.
The situation is a bit more clear with the Rocky franchise, which MGM has either produced, distributed, or served both roles on for nearly every installment, including the current, rebooted Creed films starring Michael B. Jordan. Creed III is currently in development, and with MGM the primary studio handling the film, Amazon will likely be able to chart its own course with that particular franchise’s future.
The Handmaid’s Tale
The award-winning dystopian series has been a huge hit for Hulu, but MGM Television is both the producer and distributor for the series, which was recently renewed for a fifth season. MGM’s deal with Hulu for The Handmaid’s Tale was made before Amazon entered the picture, so it’s unknown how certain the series’ future is with Disney-owned Hulu. Given how popular The Handmaid’s Tale is right now (even in its fourth season), and Hulu’s status as a key competitor to Amazon Prime Video, Amazon probably has some big decisions to make about what to do with the show.
An under-the-radar hit for MGM, the Stargate franchise spanned multiple movies and 18 seasons of TV across multiple spinoff series, as well as comic books, video games, and other tie-in projects. That makes it a valuable asset for Amazon, and the fact that MGM retained control of the sci-fi saga’s future bodes well for its future. Amazon has had decent luck with sci-fi stories, so there’s a good chance that a reboot or revival of some sort is in the future for the streaming service.
Although MGM was one of several producers on The Hobbit films, distribution of the movies was handled by Warner Bros. Pictures, making it unlikely that we’ll see Amazon become the franchise’s new home. However, Amazon already has its own Lord of the Rings prequel series in the works, so anything is possible when it comes to the future of Middle-earth on the screen.
It might not be as high-profile as some of the other franchises on this list, but the Legally Blonde films were successful enough to spawn two theatrical releases, one made-for-TV movie, an upcoming third film, and even a stage musical. Reese Witherspoon is already attached to star in Legally Blonde 3, and if that film proves to be a hit, MGM’s ownership of the franchise puts Amazon in the driver’s seat going forward. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see that film debut on Amazon Prime Video, either, given the early stage it’s at now and its streaming-friendly audience.
Among the other franchises owned (or partly owned) by MGM that could find themselves rebooted, revived, or otherwise revisited by Amazon once the dust settles on this deal are the Robocop films and TV series, The Pink Panther series, and the Barbershop movies and spinoffs, among other properties. Whether those franchises end up with new, Amazon-produced installments or are simply given a new home in the Amazon Prime Video library remains to be seen.
As with any big entertainment industry deals, the effects of Amazon’s purchase of the MGM library could take a while to surface, as studios often make long-term streaming deals that take years to expire. Amazon will almost certainly need to be patient in handling some of its bigger MGM properties, as the streaming rights to many of those franchises could already be owned by various companies — including direct competitors, in some cases.
Streaming is here to stay, though, and so is Amazon.