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 … Read More »

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Next James Bond Skedded For Nov. 2012?

There’s still no official word. But I’m hearing from 007 insiders that production should start on the next James Bond movie — “Bond 23″ — towards the end of next year for release November 2012. Makes sense since MGM’s future is now sorting itself out what with the pre-packaged bankruptcy getting approval, and Spyglass taking over studio filmmaking, and star Daniel Craig finishing his film commitments. The actor began work on the Hollywood remake of the Swedish original The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo as soon as he completed shooting Cowboys and Aliens in a nifty bit of schedule coordination between two studios and James Bond rights holders Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson. Adding to the mix is that yet another James Bond videogame which had been held up because of the uncertainty recently got the go-ahead. Meanwhile, the latest 007 vidgame is for sale this Christmas.

It’s still not clear who will distribute the next bond. Deadline’s Mike Fleming reported last month that, 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 Paramount could emerge in the thick of it because of its close relationship with Spyglass over the film reboot of Star Trek and sequel.

The British newspapers also indicate Bond 23 may now be casting. Today’s Daily Mail reports that 007 producer Barbara Broccoli has been to see actor Russell Beale twice in his current West End play Deathtrap. Also, the Shakespearean actor is starring as King Lear for Bond 23 director Sam Mendes in a National Theatre production in 2012. And he’s exec producing Shakespeare’s History Plays for a new BBC TV season that Mendes is also overseeing. Beale told UK newspaper The Independent earlier this year that he’d already dropped a hint to Mendes that “Every actor wants to be in Bond. I’d love to be a baddie.” Read More »

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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”)

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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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Lionsgate Sues Carl Icahn, Says He Was Playing A “Double Game”

Lionsgate has sued its biggest shareholder Carl Icahn, claiming he publicly opposed a merger between the company and MGM then gummed up the process until he could profit substantially from a potential marriage. Lionsgate claims Icahn publicly said he would … 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 … Read More »

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Carl Icahn Makes Another Offer To Buy Up Even More MGM Debt

Carl Icahn has made another offer to MGM lenders in hopes of thwarting the prepackaged bankruptcy plan and Spyglass deal. He’s now offered to buy $1.6 billion in debt at a premium price of 53 cents on the dollar; last week, … Read More »

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Lionsgate Says Merger With MGM Would Save $100 Million A Year

In a letter sent to MGM on Monday, Lionsgate said its proposed merger with the studio would amount to $100 million in annual savings while boosting cash flow by $120 million over five years. Documents were also filed with the … Read More »

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Icahn Makes Offer To Buy More MGM Debt To Expedite Merger

Calling the proposed Spyglass plan a “presciption for disaster,” Carl Icahn on Thursday offered to buy another $963 million of MGM’s debt. He already owns around $500 million of it, so the sum would make him one of MGM’s largest … Read More »

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Mary Parent Is Officially Out At MGM; Studio’s Lenders Given More Time To Review Spyglass Info

BREAKING NEWS… UPDATE: She has signed a non-disclosure agreement and therefore can’t talk publicly to the media. But, making no secret that she was negotiating her exit from MGM after taking the job in April 2008, Mary Parent this afternoon is now officially out at the studio where she was Chairman of the Motion Picture Group and Co-CEO. It’s a sad ending to Parent’s struggle to revive the debt-ridden cash-strapped studio and get it producing and distributing movies again against huge odds. That she was able to accomplish anything at all, even a few releases and co-productions, is testament to her professionalism and personality. Hollywood needs to salute her.

Parent and her staff, meanwhile, has had to go into the Century City offices every day for months and basically do nothing. “A really good group of people came in here to sit on the bench in their prime. What wasted capabilities and wasted potential,” she has told pals. In private conversations with Hollywood, she called it “a perfect storm against us” of events that sank her management team. She’ll probably catch her breath before thinking about another job. (The offers are just coming in now.) In the end, she like everybody else puts all the responsibility for the studio’s demise on Harry Sloan and his inability to tell the truth. ”In a weird way, it’s like coming off a bad relationship,” she told a friend Friday. “I married the wrong guy and woke up pregnant.” (see below for more) Read More »

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Lionsgate Pleads Case For Its MGM Merger

Mike Fleming

Lionsgate is making its argument for a merger with hobbled studio MGM, a move that is supported by Carl Icahn, who has been trying to take over  the mini-major while simultaneously buying up MGM debt. The timing is meant to … Read More »

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Lionsgate, Carl Icahn Set Sights On MGM

Below is Carl Icahn’s statement from this morning expressing his support for a proposed Lionsgate/MGM merger. Late Monday, Lionsgate sent a proposal to MGM expressing support of a ”business combination” after what it called “detailed” discussions with Icahn. All of this after rebuffing Icahn’s attempts for so long. This latest development comes just days after … Read More »

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MEMO: MGM Not Veering From Spyglass

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Despite the speculation that India conglomerate Sahara India Pariwar might swoop in and buy MGM for $2 billion, it doesn’t sound like MGM’s current management is taking it that seriously. At least not based on this internal memo I just obtained:

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MGM’s Umpteenth Debt Extension: Oct. 29

I’m still on vacation but can’t escape those beleaguered MGM announcements. The studio said today its lenders agreed to extend the forbearance period and therefore will not seek remedies in connection with the nonpayment of interest and principal due on … Read More »

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Bloomberg: MGM Creditors To Vote On Pre-Packaged Bankruptcy Plan This Month

Nellie Andreeva

MGM creditors will be asked to approve a restructuring and pre-packaged bankruptcy plan for the studio within the next week or two, Bloomberg reports. This follows Spyglass chiefs Roger Birnbaum and Gary Barber’s signing non-binding letters of intent on … Read More »

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Spyglass Partners Inch Closer To MGM Reins; Battle Royals Looms For James Bond Distribution Rights

Mike Fleming

As expected, the MGM ownership situation is getting closer to being sorted, and it won’t be long before the Lion has a chance to roar again. Or at least emerge from its cage. Spyglass chiefs Roger Birnbaum and Gary Barber … Read More »

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EXCLUSIVE: Summit Walks Away From MGM To Go Back Into Acquisitions Mode

“Summit is pulling out because the process has gone on way too long and it’s become a distraction for the business,” an insider tells me this morning. Summit toppers Rob Friedman and Patrick Wachsberger are still in acquisition mode, and the … Read More »

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MGM To Morph Into A Pure Production Play?

Mike Fleming

Can ‘The Hobbit’ Wait For MGM Decisions?

MgmlogosmallEXCLUSIVE: Now that Spyglass has emerged as the favorite to steer MGM’s future fortunes — although Summit insists it’s not out of the running yet and Lionsgate is in merger talks — more details are emerging about MGM’s possible future. Insiders tell me that the Spyglass plan would transform MGM into a pure production company and close down its marketing and distribution divisions. That would certainly cut costs in the short run. Coupled with the equity that Spyglass would bring to the table, a streamlined MGM would lower its debt and have a shot at raising new funding to finance its own pictures. That would let Spyglass partners Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum do what they do well, which is to lower risk by making domestic and offshore distribution deals.

SpyglassBut I see the downside of this plan. MGM would have to pay others to distribute and market its films — and those fees could be comparable or higher than the monies saved on overhead. I’m told that rival Summit and Lionsgate proposals would maintain MGM as a studio because both companies have distribution divisions. The Spyglass move would mean yet another morphing of MGM over the recent past. Under Harry Sloan, the revived studio started off as a distribution rental system for films by financiers like Sidney Kimmel and The Weinstein Co, a strategy that didn’t work. Read More »

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