MGM Re-Opens ‘Barbershop’ For Business With Ice Cube Deal

By | Wednesday March 26, 2014 @ 3:31pm PDT
Mike Fleming

barberEXCLUSIVE: MGM is reviving its Barbershop franchise. The film company is negotiating a mid-seven-figure deal with Ice Cube to reprise his role as the catalyst for Barbershop 3. They are about to start talking to writers and I’m told the hope is to re-enlist Cedric the Entertainer and Queen Latifah as well. The 2002 original cost $12 million and grossed $75 million domestic while the 2004 sequel cost $30 million and grossed $65 million. MGM, whose late good fortunes are driven primarily by the 007 and Hobbit franchises, have clearly made franchise building a priority. There is a second Hot Tub Time Machine coming through Paramount at year’s end, Hercules has sequel aspirations, and there is the revival of the Poltergeist series. MGM is also working on the animated version of The Addams Family.

cedCube has been thriving in franchise work. He reprises in Sony’s 22 Jump Street, which Sony releases June 13 with Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum reprising their roles as bumbling narcs. And after Universal saw Ride Along gross $146 million worldwide on a $25 million budget, the studio has greenlit the sequel to start production in late June with Cube and Kevin Hart reprising. Cube is separately producing Straight Outta Compton, the F. Gary Gray-directed adaptation of the formation of NWA, the hip-hop ensemble that launched the careers of Cube, Easy E and … Read More »

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Best Box Office Ever? Biggest Hollywood Franchises Explode In 2015 On Historic Collision Course

star-wars-logoIn 2011, Iron Man (I and II) director Jon Favreau called the summer of 2011, “a bloodbath for Hollywood” because of the number big-budget special effects films, remakes and sequels. Pfft! Wait until you get a load of next year. The amount of big-budget sequel fare and remakes set for 2015 from the major studios is mind-boggling and add to that highly anticipated films such as Fifty Shades Of Grey and another Quentin Tarantino film in the same year and you have all the makings for the biggest movie going year in history. The year is even going to start out hitting the ground running with audience-familiar titles, but it’s the summer and holiday season of 2015 that will be packed like no other — which brings up serious questions about what will happen as some of the biggest franchises in history collide? Remember, these films need major market exposure on over 2,500-3,000 screens or more to open big and some of them hope to play for weeks. This is going to be a star-studded war. I guess it was inevitable when studios ride out the franchises as far as they do now … what are we on Mission: Impossible 5 and Fast & Furious 7 now? And we have another Star Wars on our hands.

Related: Top 10 Domestic Box Office Grossers Of 2013 (Slideshow)

Mockingjay Book CoverThe year 2015 will go down in the books as the World Cup of franchise players: Superman vs. Batman vs. The Avengers vs. Mad Max vs. Fast & Furious vs. Jurassic Park vs. Terminator vs. Fantastic Four 3D, Marvel’s Ant-Man vs. Assassins vs. Untitled Bourne Identity, and then James Bond vs. Star Wars vs. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2 vs. Mission Impossible for top film of the year.

In kid fare, parents should be ready to be pulled to the theater time and time again (sacrificing much-needed sleep) with Cinderella, Monster Trucks, The Penguins Of Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda 3, The Jungle Book, Alvin And The Chipmunks 4, Peanuts, The Smurfs 3, Tomorrowland, and SpongeBob 2.

Practically every genre in 2015 is looking at proven titles: The year will start with the typical early year horror film fare — again no stopping franchise names — Amityville from Dimension and Frankenstein starring Daniel Radcliffe both in January, and Friday the 13th and Poltergeist. That will be followed by Fifty Shades Of Grey, based on the mega-selling book by EL James, which bows in February before the floodgates open again on sequels and remakes.

Related: Despicable Me 3′ Set For June 2017 Release

The plethora of franchise titles will likely push the 2015 box office to record-breaking heights as this year’s holdovers from the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday fare — such as The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 (which bows on November 21), Fox’s Night At The Museum 3 and Sony’s Annie and Warner Bros’ The Hobbit: There And Back Again (or should it be called The Hobbit: Here It Comes Again) will also add to the huge overall gross numbers of 2015. Read More »

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Fox Sets Date For ‘Planet of the Apes’ Project, Moves Romancer ‘The Longest Ride’ Away From ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’; ‘Night At the Museum’ Now Head to Head With ‘The Hobbit’

By | Tuesday January 14, 2014 @ 4:55pm PST

20th_century_fox_logo20th Century Fox has announced new release dates on three films, including staking out July 29, 2016, for its Untitled Planet of the Apes project. It will be released two weeks after the next installment in another franchise Ice Age 5. It also has announced a date shuffle for Valentine’s Day next year. It is dropping in the remake of the horror classic Poltergeist  (produced by MGM) on Feb. 13, 2015, and moving the romancer The Longest Ride off of that weekend so as not to compete with Focus Features’ highly anticipated Fifty Shades of Grey. In other words, Fox blinked. The Longest Ride, based on the Nicholas Sparks book, will now debut on April 3, around Easter. The studio also just moved its sequel Night At the Museum 3 into the Dec. 19, 2014, slot and now will go toe to toe with The Hobbit: There And Back Again from Warner Bros. It had been at Christmas previously. Fox’s R-rated buddy action/comedy Let’s Be Cops is set to go wide on August 13, 2014.

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Shine America Taps Audrey Chon As VP Scripted

By | Thursday January 9, 2014 @ 11:59am PST

Audrey ChonAudrey Chon is joining Shine America as VP Scripted Television. She will be involved in all aspects of scripted programming for the LA-based production company that’s currently behind FX’s The Bridge and Fox’s upcoming drama series Gracepoint, the company said today. Her appointment was announced by Carolyn Bernstein, EVP Scripted Television at Shine. Chon comes to Shine from Good Universe where she oversaw production and development, most recently producing MGM and Fox 2000′s upcoming Poltergeist remake. Before that, Chon served as Director of Development for Chernin Entertainment.

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R.I.P David Tynan

By | Sunday November 24, 2013 @ 5:15pm PST

Longtime TV writer David Tynan passed away November 11 after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2008. He was 62. A series writer on Highlander, Poltergeist: The Legacy, and First Wave on which he also served as supervising producer, Tynan was a member of the Writers Guild of Canada and the Writers Guild Of America, West. His credits also include Flash Gordon and Scene of the Crime, and in 1996 received the WGC’s Leo Award for Best Screenwriter – Dramatic Television Series.

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Frank Grillo To Topline DirecTV Series ‘Navy St.’, Rosemarie DeWitt In ‘Olive Kitteridge’

By | Monday November 18, 2013 @ 12:12pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

Frank Grillo (Captain America) is set to star in DirecTV’s original series Navy St., from Byron Balasco and Endemol Studios. Written on spec by Balasco, Navy St. is a gritty family drama set against the backdrop of Navy Street, a mixed martial arts (MMA) gym based in Venice, CA. Grillo, repped by CAA and Management 360, will play the gym’s owner, Alvey Henderson, a former fighter who never made it big due to a drug addiction but is now sober. Grillo has the perfect background for the role – in addition to his long acting career, he is a lifelong wrestler-turned-boxer-turned-MMA-er who trained with Greg Jackson, one of the top MMA trainers in the world, for his role as the trainer in the 2011 MMA feature Warrior. Grillo and Warrior star Joel Edgerton bunked together at Jackson’s MMA gym in Albuquerque for four months while he was training.

Rosemarie DeWitt is set to co-star opposite Frances McDormand and Richard Jenkins in HBO’s miniseries Olive Kitteridge, directed by Lisa Cholodenko and produced by Playtone. Also cast in the project, based on the novel by Elizabeth Strout, are Jesse Plemons (Breaking Bad) and Zoe Kazan. Written by Jane Anderson, Olive Kitteridge tells the story of a seemingly placid New England … Read More »

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OSCARS: Hey Academy, Don’t Forget ‘The Way Way Back’s’ Sam Rockwell (Interview)

By | Friday November 15, 2013 @ 5:42pm PST
Pete Hammond

The race for Best Supporting Actor at the Oscars this year is shaping up to be another impossibly competitive contest. Jared Leto, Tom Hanks, Barkhad Abdi, Steve Coogan, Harrison Ford, Geoffrey Rush, Daniel Bruhl, Chris Cooper, Bradley Cooper, Jonah Hill, Casey Affleck, George Clooney and so many others already are staking a place in this crowded field. Fox Searchlight alone has viable contenders in its fall films with 12 Years A Slave’s Michael Fassbender and Enough Said’s James Gandolfini, who could grab a rare posthumous nom for one of his final film performances.

But Searchlight also has another contender who might be forgotten since his film came out way way back in June. Right. June. Can we remember back that far? When The Way Way Back was winning acclaim at the beginning of summer, the one name pundits found to ignite a nascent Oscar supporting contest was the wryly funny, smart and memorable turn from the criminally never-nominated Sam Rockwell as Owen, the wisecracking manager of Water Wizz Water Park and mentor to 14-year-old Duncan (Liam James), who has one unforgettable summer working there. Rockwell, who easily could — and should — have been nominated for last year’s Seven Psychopaths or his extraordinary work in another Searchlight film, Conviction (2010), always has been good. He’s an actor’s actor who first gained major notice after more than a decade acting in TV and films by playing game show host and CIA looney Chuck Barris in Clooney’s Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind (2002). Mainstream moviegoers probably know him best as Justin Hammer in Iron Man 2, while he has also gained a cult following for 2009′s Moon, a low-budget predecessor to Gravity (a film Rockwell says he loved). But his performance in The Way Way Back (which also deserves recognition for the sharp original screenplay from writer-directors Nat Faxon and Jim Rash of Oscar-winning Descendants fame) was a real standout — and that’s in a cast that includes fine work from Steve Carell, Toni Collette and Allison Janney, among others. No one pitched Sam Rockwell to me in this endless season of pitching. I sought him out to talk about it.

Related: ‘The Way, Way Back’ Slides Into A Hot Holiday Opening

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Joe Swanberg’s ‘All The Light In The Sky’ Shines With Factory 25

By | Wednesday November 13, 2013 @ 12:03pm PST

Factory 25 has acquired U.S. rights to Joe Swanberg‘s All the Light in the Sky, the director’s follow-up to this year’s indie hit Drinking Buddies. Hung‘s Jane Adams co-wrote the pic with Swanberg and stars as Marie, an actress living in Malibu for whom roles are getting scarce due to her age. When her niece Faye (Green‘s Sophia Takal) arrives for the weekend, Marie’s emotional insecurities escalate and she must confront her fears and complicated relationships, and figure out how to navigate mid-life in Hollywood. As with his previous films, Swanberg tapped frequent collaborators and indie filmmakers for his cast including Kent Osborne (Uncle Kent), Allison Baar (Bad Fever), Simon Barrett (V/H/S), Lindsay Burdge (A Teacher), Larry Fessenden (The Last Winter), Lawrence Michael Levine (Green), Susan Traylor (Greenberg) and Ti West (The Sacrament). It’s also the latest pact between the prolific Swanberg and indie specialists Factory 25, who released his Silver Bullets and Art History and put out a box set of his collected work in 2011. All the Light in the Sky will debut on cable VOD, iTunes, and other digital outlets on December 3 followed by a December 20 theatrical release in NYC and additional roll-out. Adams is currently filming MGM’s Poltergeist.

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Hot Trailer: ‘The Quiet Ones’

Mad Men alum Jared Harris stars with Sam Claflin, Olivia Cooke, Erin Richards and Rory Fleck-Byrne in supernatural thriller. The Hammer production sets Harris as a professor who leads his students off the grid for an attempt to raise a poltergeist from negative human energy. John Pogue directs The Quiet Ones from a script he wrote with Craig Rosenberg and Oren Moverman. Lionsgate has North America and the UK, where the film begins its rollout April 11. Here’s the spooky first trailer:

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Delroy Lindo Cast In ‘Cymbeline’; Kennedi Clements Is Little Girl In ‘Poltergeist’ Remake; Jimmy Tatro Joins ’22 Jump Street’

By | Thursday September 12, 2013 @ 8:22pm PDT

Delroy Lindo has joined the cast of Cymbeline, writer-director Michael Almereyda’s biker-gang-and-bad-cops take on the Shakespeare play. Lindo will portray Belarius, a manly, battered and paranoid noble. Ed Harris, Dakota Johnson, Penn Badgely, Milla Jovovich, Ethan Hawke, Boyd Holbrook and Anton Yelchin also star in the film produced by Anthony Katagas. Lindo (The Chicago Code, Kidnapped) next stars in NBC’s new drama Believe. He is repped by APA.

Kennedi Clements has joined director Gil Kenan’s Poltergeistremake playing Madison, the little girl (named Carol Ann in the 1982 original) who meets up with nasty ghosts in her TV. Sam Rockwell, Rosemarie DeWitt and Jared Harris star in the redo scripted by David Lindsay-Abaire. The 6-year-old’s credits include TV’s A Family Thanksgiving, Home for Christmas and a recurring role on the Canadian series Rogue. She is repped by Coast to Coast Talent Group, Premiere Talent Management and attorney Howard Fishman.

Jimmy Tatro will make his feature debut in 22 Jump Street. Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are directing the sequel starring Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill, who go undercover at a local college. Michael Bacall and Oren Uziel wrote the script. Tatro’s YouTube channel Life According To Jimmy has more than 1.7 million subscribers. He’s repped by UTA and manager Sarah Penna.

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Jared Harris Joins ‘Poltergeist’ Reboot

By | Wednesday September 4, 2013 @ 1:01pm PDT

EXCLUSIVE: Sherlock Holmes star Jared Harris has nabbed a lead role in MGM and Fox 2000′s Poltergeist reboot. Harris will play Carrigan, a larger than life TV personality who left the world of academia behind to become the star host of basic cable TV show Haunted House Cleaners. Gil Kenan is directing from a script by David Lindsay-Abaire reimagining the 1982 Tobe Hooper horror classic. Rosemarie DeWitt was cast in the pic in July. Recent Harris credits include his stint on AMC’s Mad Men as Lane Pryce, his role as Ulysses S. Grant in Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, and Screen Gems’ The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. He appears next in Hammer & Liongate’s The Quiet Ones, FilmDistrict’s Pompeii, and Laika’s stop motion pic The Boxtrolls and will reunite with Sherlock Holmes helmer Guy Ritchie in WB’s The Man from U.N.C.L.E.. Harris is represented by Paradigm, Gateway Management and Independent in the U.K.

Related: Rosemarie DeWitt Scares Up Lead In ‘Poltergeist’ Revamp

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Vertigo Entertainment Taps Adam Stone As President Of Production

By | Wednesday July 24, 2013 @ 12:33pm PDT

EXCLUSIVE: Roy Lee‘s Vertigo Entertainment is bringing on Adam Stone as President of Production. Stone comes to the Warner Bros.-based Vertigo from Mandalay Pictures, where he was SVP Production and Development; he joined the company in 2006. Stone and Lee collaborated recently on Mandalay’s The Voices, and while at Mandalay, Stone also worked on the Daniel Radcliffe starrer Horns with Red Granite Pictures and football pic When The Game Stands Tall with Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions. He takes his new post at Vertigo at the start of September. Vertigo’s slate includes WB’s The Lego Movie and FilmDistrict’s OldBoy. The company is in preproduction on crime thriller Run All Night and Poltergeist, which is set for domestic distribution through Fox. On the TV side, Vertigo is heading into season 2 of A&E’s Bates Motel prequel and just signed a two-year deal with Fox 21 to develop new cable series.

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Rosemarie DeWitt Scares Up Lead In ‘Poltergeist’ Revamp

By | Tuesday July 23, 2013 @ 11:56am PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Rosemarie DeWitt is the choice to play the female lead in Poltergeist, the new installment of the Tobe Hooper-directed horror classic that will be made by MGM and Fox 2000, with Gil Kenan directing a script by David Lindsay-Abaire. They are looking to cast the male lead. Jobeth Williams and Craig T. Nelson were the original parents whose ideal family life is uprooted by a cavalcade of spirits that culminates in the kidnap of their youngest daughter. Given how well these fright films are faring against studio product lately, this one seems ripe for remaking and I’m surprised someone didn’t reheat the 31-year old film sooner. Sam Raimi and Nathan Kahane are producing. DeWitt is coming off Promised Land and Your Sister’s Sister, and is currently starring in Kill The Messenger with Jeremy Renner for Focus Features.  She’ll next be seen in the Lynn Shelton-directed Touchy Feely and is repped by CAA and Wishlab.

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MGM, Fox 2000 To Co-Finance & Distribute ‘Poltergeist’; Production To Start This Fall

By | Thursday June 20, 2013 @ 6:35am PDT

LOS ANGELES, CA (June 20, 2013) – Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures (MGM), a division of MGM Holdings Inc., has partnered with Fox 2000 Pictures, a division of Twentieth Century Fox, to co-finance and distribute the film “Poltergeist,” it was announced today by MGM Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Gary Barber and Twentieth Century Fox Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Jim Gianopulos. Gil Kenan (“Monster House”) is set to direct from a screenplay by Pulitzer Prize-winning writer, David Lindsay-Abaire (whose recent credits include “Oz: The Great and Powerful”). The film is being produced by Sam Raimi (“Evil Dead”) and Rob Tapert (“The Posession”) via Ghost House Pictures, along with Roy Lee (“The Strangers”). Nathan Kahane (“The Grudge”) will serve as executive producer.

“Poltergeist” will be marketed and distributed worldwide by Twentieth Century Fox, with select international territories as well as international television distribution being handled by MGM. Fox will also handle home entertainment and domestic television. MGM and Twentieth Century Fox continue their longtime partnership as Fox also distributes MGM’s home entertainment product.

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Cannes: Lionsgate Lands North American Distribution Rights To ‘The Quiet Ones’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: In what becomes the second significant domestic distribution deal on the eve of Cannes, Lionsgate closed a deal with Exclusive Media for North American distribution rights to the Hammer production of The Quiet Ones, the John Pogue-directed supernatural thriller that stars Mad Men‘s Jared Harris and Sam Claflin, who starred in the last Pirates Of The Caribbean. Craig Rosenberg and Oren Moverman wrote the script with Pogue.

This follows Warner Bros’ deal for the Ryan Gosling-directed How To Catch A Monster. The Quiet Ones will open April 25, 2014. Pogue wrote the script and Exclusive’s Tobin Armbrust and Simon Oakes will produce with James Gay-Rees, Steven Chester Prince and Ben Holden of The Travelling Picture Show Company. Lionsgate already had UK rights. It’s a nice start for Rob Friedman and Patrick Wachsberger. The film is inspired by true events, and tells the story of a prof who uses controversial methods and engages his students in an attempt to raise a poltergeist from negative human energy. That can’t turn out well, can it? Read More »

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‘Monster House’s Gil Kenan Finds New Haunt: He’ll Helm MGM ‘Poltergeist’ Remake

By | Wednesday March 6, 2013 @ 5:05pm PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVEMGM has found a director for its remake of the horror classic Poltergeist. It’s Gil Kenan, who’s best known for helming Monster House and City Of Ember. He separately has set up an original, A Giant, with Lava Bear and The Henson Company. The remake of the 1982 Tobe Hooper-directed pic is being produced by Sam Raimi, Nathan Kahane, and Roy Lee. The original starred Craig T. Nelson and Jobeth Williams as parents in a family whose dream house turns into a nightmare. Kenan is repped by WME and attorney Robert Offer.

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Jonathan Glickman Re-Ups As Head Of MGM Motion Picture Group

By | Monday October 15, 2012 @ 10:06am PDT

The move comes two weeks after MGM co-head Roger Birnbaum’s announcement that he was moving into an executive producer role at the studio that he and partner Gary Barber bought out of bankruptcy two years ago. That made Barber the sole chairman and CEO, and now he has his former Spyglass Entertainment president Jonathan Glickman locked in until 2017 to run the feature film unit. Here’s the announcement:

LOS ANGELES, CA (October 15, 2012) – Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Inc. (MGM) President of Motion Picture Group Jonathan Glickman has signed a new agreement that extends his term to 2017, it was announced today by Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Gary Barber. Glickman will continue in his current role overseeing development and production for all feature films, as well as targeting co-financing opportunities with other studios. He will continue to report to Barber.

Since joining MGM, Glickman oversaw “Skyfall,” the much anticipated 23rdJames Bond film produced by Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, for the studio. Additionally, Glickman has supervised the adaptation of Stephen King’s “Carrie,” directed by Kimberly Peirce and starring Chloe Moretz and Julianne Moore, as well as “Robocop” directed by José Padilha.  Future high profile MGM projects include: “Hercules,” starring Dwayne Johnson, “The Machine” starring Vin Diesel, “The Magnificent Seven” starring Tom Cruise, as well as reboots of the “Deathwish” and “Poltergeist” franchises.

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‘Mad Men’s Jared Harris Books Lead In Hammer’s ‘The Quiet Ones’

By | Monday, 16 April 2012 12:07 UK

Jared Harris, who’ll next be seen in Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, will star as an unorthodox professor in the latest production from the UK’s Hammer. Supernatural thriller/horror pic The Quiet Ones will be directed by Quarantine 2‘s John Pogue. Harris will play a charismatic but controversial professor whose methods lead his students off the grid for a dangerous experiment to create a poltergeist. The story and original screenplay hail from Tom DeVille with revisions by Craig Rosenberg, Oren Moverman and Pogue. Shooting starts in the UK in June. James Gay-Rees (Senna, Exit Through The Gift Shop) is producing in association with TPSC Films. Tobin Armbrust, president of worldwide production & acquisitions at Hammer parent Exclusive Media, is overseeing production alongside director of development, Shira Rockowitz. TPSC Film’s president Steven Chester Prince is also producer on the project for the newly formed independent film division of The Traveling Picture Show Company. Exclusive Media is handling international sales on The Quiet Ones.

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MGM COMEBACK! Exclusive Interview About New $500M Revolving Credit Facility To Retire Debt & Make TV/Movies

By | Monday February 6, 2012 @ 4:04pm PST

EXCLUSIVE: In an exclusive interview after months of near public silence, Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum just told me that MGM is “definitely a buyer and a significant buyer in creating content”. This is great news for Hollywood which needs more buyers in the entertainment marketplace. What’s more this is a stunning development that MGM which wwas sent into bankruptcy by crushing debt now can emerge free of all bank debt. And that Barber and Birnbaum accomplished paying off the $325M term loan in just one year of what was supposed to be a 5-year time frame. Now the pair plan to grow MGM.

“The financial community has now lent its support to a company that was bankrupt one year ago,” they told me. “Our plan of reorganization set out objectives, which all were achieved in a time frame quicker than anyone expected. That allowed us to pay off our 5-year term loan in one year. It was a lot of hard work. But the fact is MGM has not lost any liquidity. We’ve taken a fixed component of debt off our balance sheet and MGM today has no bank debt. Those days of paying through the nose are gone.

“Not only have we paid off the debt but we have a significant amount of cash on the balance sheet and we now have a full untapped revolving credit facility. The company is now completely unlevered with the ability to explore any opportunities. We have the currency to acquire assets to grow MGM. When we … Read More »

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