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Hot Trailer: MGM’s 90th Anniversary Tribute

By | Wednesday January 22, 2014 @ 9:30am PST

MGM90MGM is kicking off a yearlong campaign to celebrate its birthday and has produced a trailer that will be shown in theaters, on MGM’s various channels and home video products, and via social media. As part of the celebration, the studio has built 4K restorations of titles for Blu-ray including Rocky, Rainman and The Good, The Bad And The Ugly, and the studio’s Leo the Lion is getting the pawprint treatment at the Chinese Theater this morning in Hollywood with Sylvester Stallone and CEO Gary Barber among those expected to attend. Although it is MGM’s 90th birthday, most of the highlights here are centered on the film library the studio still owns (lots of United Artists movies — James Bond, Pink Panther, etc). There’s not much on MGM’s Golden Era in the 1930s and ’40s — those rights were acquired by Turner and now held by Warner Bros. Still cool though. Check it out:

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MGM Wants Its Stock Back; $75 Million Repurchase In Works

By | Friday September 13, 2013 @ 7:40am PDT
Mike Fleming

The Board of Directors of MGM Holdings Inc., authorized a share repurchase plan and adopted a Stockholder Rights Plan declaring a dividend distribution of one “Purchase Right” for each outstanding share of its Class A Common Stock and Class B Common Stock.

“Gary Barber and his team have done a great job building an attractive slate of new content in film and television, which is driving strong growth and profitability,” said Ann Mather, MGM’s Lead Director. “MGM’s healthy balance sheet and efficient operating structure position the Company for a wide array of options to maximize shareholder value. The MGM Board is considering all of these options carefully, and has approved the share repurchase plan in recognition of the Company’s strong performance to date and future prospects. Along with the share repurchase plan, the adoption of the Stockholder Rights Plan will allow the Board to act in the best interests of the Company and its stockholders without any distractions which could result from coercive and discriminatory takeover attempts.”

“As the Board considers MGM’s options for creating maximum value for our stockholders, the Board has authorized MGM to repurchase shares from stockholders,” said Gary Barber, MGM Inc.’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “The initial authorization by the Board under the stock repurchase plan is $75 million, and the Board will continue to assess the size of the repurchase plan over time.”

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MGM Chief Gary Barber Tells Investors He’ll Stay Through 2017

By | Thursday November 15, 2012 @ 3:50pm PST

Gary Barber’s new agreement follows last month’s announcement that Roger Birnbaum — who had been co-CEO and co-chairman — will return to movie making. “We are thrilled he has chosen to stay at MGM on an exclusive basis,” Barber says. The CEO told investors on a conference call that the company is poised to see a dramatic rise in revenues in the current quarter with the success of its James Bond movie Skyfall, and the release next month of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in partnership with Warner Bros’ New Line. MGM generated net income of $23.4M in Q3, +55.4% vs the period last year, on revenues of $169.3M, virtually unchanged. In response to a question, Barber declined to update investors about the company’s thinking regarding an IPO. “We will update all stockholders at the appropriate time,” he says. MGM announced in July that it “submitted a draft registration statement on a confidential basis” to the SEC for “a possible initial public offering of its Class A common stock.” JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs are managing the IPO plans.

Related: ‘Skyfall’ Expected To Exceed $800M In Worldwide Box Office Sales

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MGM Takes A Loss On ‘Dragon Tattoo’ And Seeks Better Terms For Sequels

If you think that The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo was a hit, then talk to MGM Holdings CEO Gary Barber. His company co-financed the film, and although it has generated about $231M at worldwide box offices he tells investors who own MGM’s unlisted shares that “it is below our expectations and we booked a modest loss.” The company wouldn’t say how much it wrote down, but Barber notes that execs ”were hoping we’d do 10% more than we did.” MGM has an option to co-finance the other two films in the trilogy and is talking to Sony about following through “assuming we can achieve better economics.” He was much more upbeat about the early performance of 21 Jump Street, which MGM also co-financed. “We expect it to be profitable,” Barber says. He adds that ”MGM has entered 2012 as a revitalized company.” He declined to describe MGM’s strategy but says it is “evaluating all options.” Read More »

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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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Dene Stratton Named CFO At MGM

By | Tuesday September 20, 2011 @ 9:09am PDT

LOS ANGELES, CA, September 20, 2011- MGM has appointed Dene B. Stratton to the post of Chief Financial Officer, it was announced today by Co-Chairmen and Chief Executive Officers Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum.

Stratton, a nearly 20-year veteran of the Walt Disney Company, most recently served as CFO for internet start-up, TRC Media (Ireland) Limited. His MGM appointment is effective immediately and he will report to Barber and Birnbaum.

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‘King Of Kong’ Director Seth Gordon Ready To Play ‘War Games’ In MGM Reboot

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: MGM will reboot the 1983 thriller War Games, and the studio has set Seth Gordon to develop the film to direct. Gordon, who made his breakthrough with the gaming documentary The King of Kong, most recently directed the New Line comedy Horrible Bosses, with Colin Farrell, Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Jamie Foxx. The reconstituted MGM has been going to town with remakes — landing Jose Padilha to direct Robocop and Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa to script Carrie – but the John Badham-directed War Games is one that seems particularly reboot-able.

The original starred Matthew Broderick and Ally Sheedy as computer prodigies who finds a back door into a military computer program. They think they are playing games with the computer only to find they could trigger WWIII if the computer launches nuclear missiles at the Russians. In terms of computer games, kids were playing Pong back then; the level of sophistication with vidgames and the Internet in the digital age opens a wealth of possibilities, and Gordon will be given a wide berth to create a new take on the tale. The deal also reunites him with MGM toppers Roger Birnbaum, Gary Barber and Jon Glickman, who were at Spyglass when Gordon directed Four Christmases there. Gordon’s repped by WME and Brillstein Entertainment Partners.

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New MGM Seals First Project In Vin Diesel-Starrer ‘The Machine’

By | Thursday May 19, 2011 @ 11:46am PDT
Mike Fleming

In what will be the first new production for the reconstituted MGM, the studio has set Vin Diesel to star in and produce The Machine. The action-comedy is being produced by Diesel’s One Race Films along with Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant. They wrote the script. MGM will next set a director and start production in the fall.

Diesel will play a human-like machine created in secrecy by the Pentagon to be the world’s first ultimate weapon. Some 20 years after the machine was decommissioned and buried, The Machine is discovered, reactivated and befriended by a kid. When the government  learns that The Machine is back in operation, the ultimate weapon’s mission becomes to protect the family that is harboring him. Lennon and Garant’s scripts include the Night at the Museum franchise and The Pacifier, the latter of which starred Diesel and was made by Spyglass. Since Spyglass’s Roger Birnbaum, Gary Barber and Jonathan Glickman are calling the shots at MGM, it is a re-team across the board. I’m told the tone of the movie is somewhat similar to Iron Giant, the animated film with a protagonist that was voiced by Diesel. The hope is to create a franchise. Read More »

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TOLDJA! MGM Makes Distribution Deal With Sony Pictures That Includes James Bond

Sony Pictures and MGM have finally announced the worst kept secret in Hollywood. They’ve reached an agreement that will return Sony Pictures to its role as distributor of the James Bond movies. Sony, along with studios like Warner Bros, Paramount and Fox, all engaged in talks with the reconstituted MGM on a deal that came at a hefty price. Deadline reported previously that MGM walked away with the right to be co-financier on several plum Sony films, including the David Fincher-directed The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, as well as others to be added to the mix, including the remake of Total Recall. The latter film might be particularly painful for Sony because sources tell us that MGM gets to distribute Total Recall in the highly valuable international TV market. This is considered a huge benefit to MGM in that it enhances the value of its international TV portfolio and robs Sony’s existing international TV partners of a title that is expected to be big overseas. Neither Sony nor MGM would comment on the horse-trading part of the deal.

Clearly, Sony wanted the Bond franchise back badly, and now Amy Pascal and Michael Lynton have brought 007 back into the fold. Deadline reported last summer that MGM was being reconstituted as a pure production play and shedding its distribution operation. That immediately put the studio’s most valuable title, 007, in play. Bidders began mobilizing before MGM made it out of bankruptcy. By January, several of the studios vying for Bond rights became increasingly frustrated by the attempts by MGM’s  new chiefs Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum to leverage 007 distribution rights to get co-financing rights to plum projects at whatever studio won the deal. This came even after MGM had offered the villain role to Oscar-winner Javier Bardem, a courtship that is still going on (Anthony Hopkins has also been rumored as a potential participant on the evil side of the Bond dossier). Sony Pictures eventually got the upper hand and moved close to a deal in early February, after Sony threw co-fi rights to Dragon Tattoo and other titles into the pot. The announcement doesn’t deal with other MGM titles, but there are expected to be more that get distributed by Sony Pictures, which separately partnered with the studio on the Kevin James-starrer The Zookeeper. That film moved over to Sony when MGM went into deep freeze because of its crushing debt burden, and Sony moved it to the heart of the summer, with a July 8 release date. While Sony was winning that deal, rival suitors like Paramount (which has a strong relationship with Barber and Birnbaum over Star Trek) bristled at MGM’s asking price, plus a relatively low 8% distribution fee on the 007 film that Sam Mendes will direct and which Sony will release November 9, 2012, with Daniel Craig reprising. Here is the official announcement: Read More »

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Breaking: MGM Names Qualia Capital’s Ken Schapiro New COO

By | Monday February 14, 2011 @ 12:17pm PST
Mike Fleming

LOS ANGELES, CA, February 14, 2011- MGM has appointed Ken Schapiro to the post of Chief Operating Officer, it was announced today by Co-Chairmen and Chief Executive Officers Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum.

Schapiro is the co-founder and a managing principal of Qualia Capital LLC, a private investment management company focused on the media and entertainment industries with an emphasis on intellectual property asset portfolios. His MGM appointment is effective immediately and he will report to Barber and Birnbaum.

“Ken’s background, experience and proven track record make him an undeniable asset to MGM. We believe his skills and energy will be integral in helping us build the new MGM,” said Barber and Birnbaum.

“While it is difficult to leave the business I co-founded with my partner Amir Malin, returning to an operating role to work with Gary and Roger at the new MGM from this early stage is too exciting a challenge to pass up,” said Schapiro.

Prior to co-founding Qualia Capital LLC in 2003, Ken Schapiro served as President and Chief Operating Officer of Artisan Entertainment. During his tenure at Artisan, from 1998 to 2003, the company more than tripled the size of its film library to become one of the largest content libraries in the world with over 6000 titles. Schapiro and his co-founding partner in Qualia, Amir Malin, oversaw Artisan’s transformation from a struggling publicly held home video distributor into a leading privately held independent film company,

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Sony About To Recapture James Bond #23; UPDATE: MGM Leverages 007 For Deal On Sony’s ‘The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’

2ND UPDATE:  The new MGM brass, Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum managed to leverage the James Bond #23 film for a piece of Sony’s in-the-works big movie based on the Stieg Larsson bestseller, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, which has already been shooting in Sweden under director David Fincher and starring Rooney Mara. Deadline has learned that Sony Pictures bosses Amy Pascal and Michael Lynton agreed to give MGM a co-financing deal for the big title and possibly other films already shooting, too, to help the reconstituted studio generate quick cash flow. This allows MGM to have revenue which it hasn’t had in a long time, so the books look better, and more funds for production could be forthcoming. (That’s exactly how Birnbaum and Barber built their Spyglass Entertainment in the first place: by investing in films it didn’t make, like the recently rebooted Star Trek.)

UPDATE: We’re told Paramount dropped out of the Bond bidding when MGM insisted on bringing the distribution fee under 8% and when MGM got “grabby” in wanting a piece of a Paramount established franchise that studio didn’t want to give up.

EXCLUSIVE 5 PM: Deadline hears that Sony Pictures is close to landing distribution rights to MGM’s James Bond franchise again, and specifically for the next untitled Bond #23, even though several studios are still very much in the hunt. Sony Pictures chiefs Amy Pascal and Michael Lynton distributed both Daniel Craig 007 pics, Casino Royale and Quantum Of Solace, and now have moved into first position to recapture 007. That’s because Sony is agreeing to allow MGM’s new leadership to leverage the next Bond pic, and indeed the Bond franchise, to create more cash flow for the reconstituted studio post-bankruptcy. The new brass, Spyglass Entertainment co-owners Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum who are now the Co-Chairmen andCEOs of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, are finishing negotiations to co-finance a number of films with Sony. Deadline has learned that Pascal and Lynton have already found a title on the Sony slate for MGM to co-finance. That’s exactly how Birnbaum and Barber built Spyglass in the first place: by investing in films it didn’t make, such as The Sixth Sense and the recently rebooted Star Trek.

There’s no doubt this is a shrewd move by MGM, but Deadline also learned it wasn’t sitting well with the majors. Top execs at Sony and Fox and Paramount and Warner Bros were increasingly frustrated with the way that the Spyglass duo were playing one studio off another — “and enjoying it,” in the words of one exec involved. Sony at the time even described its strategy to win Bond #23 as ”pleading”. Now it looks like that worked along with agreeing to much of MGM’s negotiating terms.

Even though MGM holds sway on where Bond #23 lands, a 007 return to the Sony fold would please EON partners Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson. Amy Pascal in particular has developed a strong personal and professional relationship with Broccoli when they were making the transition from Pierce Brosnan to Daniel Craig. Broccoli  and Wilson found Craig among a list of possible 007s, and the choice wasn’t popular at first. But Pascal supported Craig. Also Sony has a reputation for spending big to market Bond: for Casino Royale, Sony spent a humongous sum worldwide to introduce the new Bond. MGM was supposed to distribute the 23rd Bond film itself, until the studio was pushed into bankruptcy. Read More »

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MGM Sets Ex-Pixar CFO Ann Mather To Head New Board of Directors

Mike Fleming

Fresh from pre-packaged bankruptcy and restructuring, MGM has named former Pixar CFO Ann Mather to head the studio’s new board of directors, a group that also includes new studio heads Roger Birnbaum and Gary Barber. Hopefully, the next step will be to start making movies again, after gifting Sony Pictures Entertainment’s summer slate with The Zookeeper, Warner Bros with The Hobbit, Fox with The Three Stooges, and some lucky studio with James Bond and future productions because in all likelihood, the MGM lion will try to roar again initially as a production company which contracts out distribution and marketing. Here’s the announcement:

LOS ANGELES, CA, December 23, 2010 – MGM Holdings Inc. (MGM), the independent, privately-held motion picture, television, home video, and theatrical production and distribution company today announced former Pixar Chief Financial Officer Ann Mather will join the Board of Directors of the newly restructured company. Mather will serve as the Lead Director of the nine-member Board that includes Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum, Chief Executive Officers of MGM and Co-Chairman of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc and its operating subsidiaries.
Mather’s appointment coincides with the company’s December 20th announcement that their restructuring plan has become effective, including exit financing of $500 million, arranged by JP Morgan. As the Lead Director, Mather will oversee governance of the studio and its operating units, working in tandem with directors Barber and Birnbaum; former CBS Chief Financial Officer Fred Reynolds; former MySpace President Jason

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MGM Restructure Complete: Spyglass’ Duo Roger Birnbaum And Gary Barber Take Reins With $500 Million To Spend

LOS ANGELES, CA, December 20, 2010 – Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. today announced that the company’s restructuring has become effective, with exit financing of $500 million in place. The company’s “pre-packaged” plan of reorganization (the “Plan”) was confirmed on December 2, 2010, by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York. 

“MGM is emerging from one of the most challenging periods of its storied history. We are honored and inspired at the opportunity of leading one of Hollywood’s most iconic studios into its next generation of unforgettable filmmaking, global television production and distribution, and aggressively pursuing, developing and exploiting new digital entertainment platforms,” said Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum, Co-Chairmen and Chief Executive Officers of MGM. “Beginning today, MGM is a stronger, more competitive company, with a solid financial foundation and a bright future. We look forward to working with MGM’s dedicated employees to build upon this company’s legacy.” 

MGM has a significantly improved financial position with secured lenders exchanging approximately $5 billion, including accrued interest and fees, for most of the equity in the company. As part of its exit financing, MGM raised $500 million to fund operations, including production of a new slate of films and television series. JPMorgan arranged MGM exit financing.

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Bah, Humbug! MGM Lays Off 50 Employees

Most of the bigwigs left weeks ago, but today MGM began laying off 50 staffers, mostly from the post-production, marketing, and theatrical distribution departments. Once Spyglass Entertainment’s Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum start running the studio when it emerges from its prepackaged bankruptcy and closes a $500M credit facility to make movies again, MGM said in court papers that its employee roster will number about 320 in 2011.

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MGM’s Post-Bankruptcy Board Takes Shape

By | Friday November 26, 2010 @ 7:17pm PST

When MGM exits bankruptcy next month, its new-look board of directors will include a few more media veterans. Jason Hirschhorn, who was recently the co-president of MySpace, and former CBS Corp chief financial officer Frederic Reynolds will be part of the 9 person board, joining new MGM bosses Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum along with representatives of creditors that helped restructure the company. Two board spots have yet to be filled, and one of those will be chosen by Carl Icahn, who just unveiled his Lionsgate board and who has in recent months amassed 18% of MGM’s debt. The appointments of Hirschhorn and Reynolds tap into MGM’s attempt to leverage its extensive film library while managing its release slate, which will supposedly be around 7-8 films per year starting in 2012. Reynolds will bring his traditional media experience to the company, while Hirschhorn, prior to Facebook, was president of entertainment for Sling Media and chief digital officer for MTV Networks. December 2 is the day on which the bankruptcy court is expected to approve MGM’s reorganization plan.

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MGM Starts Pre-Packaged Chapter 11; Claims Carl Icahn Now Supports Plan

LOS ANGELES, CA, November 3, 2010 – Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. (“MGM”) today announced that it and approximately 160 of its affiliates have filed Chapter 11 cases in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York (the “Court”) to seek confirmation of their “pre-packaged” plan of reorganization (“Plan”). MGM has sufficient cash on hand, and the consent of its lenders to use this cash, to fund normal business operations throughout the Chapter 11 process. MGM has filed “first-day” motions seeking immediate Court approval to continue paying its employees, vendors, participants, guilds and licensors in the ordinary course of business during the entire Chapter 11 process, for both pre-petition and post-petition obligations. MGM anticipates that the Plan will be confirmed by the Court in approximately 30 days.

As previously announced on October 29, 2010, MGM’s secured lenders, voting in the Company’s solicitation process, overwhelmingly approved the proposed plan of reorganization. After considering a range of strategic alternatives over the course of the last 15 months, MGM and its secured lenders determined this plan will allow the Company to emerge as a stable enterprise with new leadership at the helm to move MGM forward.

The Plan provides for the Company’s secured lenders to exchange more than $4 billion in outstanding debt for most of the equity in MGM upon its emergence from Chapter 11.

Following the receipt of the requisite consents from its lenders for the Plan, the Company and certain significant consenting

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BACK ON ITS FEET? MGM Creditors Crown Spyglass Partners New Chiefs

Mike Fleming

2ND UPDATE: MGM has just issued this statement about the results of the creditor voting:

“Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. (‘MGM’) today announced that the secured lenders voting in the Company’s solicitation process have overwhelmingly approved its proposed plan of reorganization (‘Plan’). MGM will now move expeditiously to implement that Plan, which will dramatically reduce its debt load and put the Company in a strong position to execute its business strategy. MGM is appreciative of the lenders’ support.”

UPDATE: The creditors have now officially approved the restructuring plan that puts the Spyglass chiefs atop MGM and gets the studio moving again. A statement will be released momentarily. Now, the fun begins. If MGM isn’t a distributor, the next installment of James Bond will be a jump ball. Expect Sony (which distributed Casino Royale to battle it out with Warner Bros and Fox, but watch Paramount emerge in the thick of it because of the close relationship that the studio has developed with Spyglass since that company became co-financier of Star Trek and the followup that is in the works. Read More »

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Miramax Putting Together Exec Team

The long-running drama of MGM should play out by tomorrow when creditors decide whether or not to embrace a restructuring package that puts Spyglass partners Roger Birnbaum and Gary Barber in control or instead give the MGM assets to Carl Icahn and Lionsgate. Elsewhere, Miramax Films, the other endless custody battle, is starting to come together. Reports have former News Corp exec Mike Lang in talks to become CEO, and MGM television coprexy Jim Packer also in discussions to take a post. All this is contingent on the sale of the company by Disney to Filmyard Holdings that takes place at year’s end. That purchase is backed by Ron Tutor and Colony Capital.

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Carl Icahn and Lionsgate Redouble Efforts To Buy Up MGM Debt To Thwart Spyglass

Mike Fleming

Carl Icahn is now offering 50 cents on the dollar for MGM debt in an attempt to bolster his position before creditors vote Friday on a reorganization plan that puts Spyglass partners Roger Birnbaum and Gary Barber in the driver’s seat of the debt-hobbled studio. Icahn had previously been offering 45 cents on the dollar for debt, and the new offer comes with the stipulation that debt holders vote against the Spyglass offer. Lionsgate brass recently came out with an impassioned speech on why a Lionsgate-Icahn deal was better for creditors than the Spyglass plan which is half a year in the making. Considering how bitter the battle has been between Icahn and Lionsgate brass as he’s tried to take over the minimajor, doesn’t it sound like that couple you know, the one that is fighting constantly and decides that if they just went ahead and had a baby, everything would be perfect? MGM, which watched Mary Parent exit as its pic chief after she was stymied in her efforts to create a production slate for the Lion, needs a steady hand and many feel that the Spyglass guys would provide it. The prepackaged bankruptcy with Birnbaum and Barber has never been viewed as a permanent solution. It has always been viewed by insiders as “kicking the can down the road.” Bolder plays with an outside suitor like Lionsgate is necessary later on, but it doesn’t necessarily have to … Read More »

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