Licence to content material: Amazon’s MGM takeover gives it access to Bond and beyond | Film industry

Just over two years in the past, the Disney takeover of most of twenty first Century Fox created a good larger monster out of the 2 current monsters, and pushed the film business additional in the direction of a de facto monopoly of two or three humongous company entities progressively merging collectively to make an amazing large amorphous mass, spawning infinite content material. Now the blobbification course of has gone additional, with Amazon snapping up MGM for $8.45bn (£5.97bn).

That’s a hefty value, in accordance to some, contemplating the debt that MGM carries and the truth that MGM’s star property James Bond, the worldwide money cow that retains on giving milk, is the truth is partly owned by Eon Productions, maybe the final boutique franchise participant on the planet. Eon’s proper to management each side of 007 is fiercely defended by its homeowners Barbara Broccoli and Michael G Wilson from their good-looking workplaces in Piccadilly (fairly just like the previous MI6 constructing). The fits at Amazon may have to seek the advice of Broccoli and Wilson over all the pieces to do with 007.

There was a time after all when a basic Hollywood studio similar to MGM (or Metro Goldwyn Mayer Studios Inc) may very well be related to a selected form of movie: on this case, the attractive musicals of the golden age. In the final century, they have been related to their expertise – “more stars than the heavens” was Louis B Mayer’s boast, and after this period, MGM’s capital would reside in its again catalogue. That’s actually what Amazon is shopping for now.

Rocky Balboa, additionally a part of Amazon’s new IP portfolio. Photograph: Allstar/MGM

But after all, it’s about extra than simply getting a couple of bucks each time somebody streams Thelma and Louise on Prime. Amazon is shopping for mental property. It has been within the business of high-profile, high-class authentic manufacturing, actually – and a working example is its lavishly cinematic, 10-episode streaming TV adaptation of Colson Whitehead’s novel The Underground Railroad, directed by Barry Jenkins. But it desires to hit the industrial candy spot of one thing excitingly new primarily based on one thing reassuringly previous; it is shopping for IP, mental property, the brand-name improvement rights to these much-loved films and characters who may be rebooted for brand new generations. New Creed films, new Legally Blonde films and a remake (a second remake, the truth is) of The Thomas Crown Affair, with Michael B Jordan following Steve McQueen and Pierce Brosnan within the position. These aren’t films or expertise being purchased, however DNA stockpiles: the cultural HeLa cells that may be endlessly gestated in many alternative methods.

It’s fairly miserable, after all, and Amazon didn’t get to be the retail colossus it is by specialising and indulging particular person creativity. Its raison d’etre is to offer you all the pieces, to ship something you need, one thing that another person has created. And so after all the true hazard is that studio films will grow to be even blander and extra uniform than earlier than, and that they may now not the truth is be studio films in that sense, now not particular person movies from film-makers, however iterations of content material. Hollywood was at all times industrial although, at all times in love with style, at all times liable to be enthusiastic about Amazon’s “If you like this, then you’ll like this … ” nudging. The hazard is that particular person artistry shall be squeezed additional out, and the human issue will lose out to the algorithm.

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