By Dan Skip Allen
In the last couple of decades, some mergers and acquisitions have been going on. Some of them are from Disney. They acquired Marvel, Pixar and just last year they made a huge move by buying 20th Century for 86 billion dollars. They got their entire library of films, Fox Searchlight, all the Marvel properties they owed, and their cable tv stations. Those were just the tip of the iceberg on all the mergers and acquisitions that have been made in recent years. The landscape of film and entertainment is always changing. With streaming becoming a huge media outlet, things will continue to change as long as people want to keep digesting it.
A few years ago, the telecommunications giant AT&T acquired Warner Media which included HBO, Warner Brothers Studios, and DC Comics, amongst others. This would help make AT&T one of the largest entertainment conglomerates in the world. It didn't last long. The COVID-19 pandemic caused some problems for AT&T and its plan to be a major player in the world of entertainment. They couldn't put their movies out in theaters. Which meant they could make the money back that they spent on making them. So as a stop-gap measure they decided to put their films on their streaming service, HBO Max. If you had this service, it would seem like a good idea. In the overall scheme of things, it's not a great business move. AT&T wasn't getting much money back by putting their films on HBO Max and in theaters at the same time. They were losing money. Also, people balked at this decision, especially some of their biggest talents such as Christopher Nolan and Denis Villeneuve. And James Gunn said he would never work with them again. This all led to the decision last week to spin off Warner Media from AT&T. Discovery Media is to merge with Warner Media, which includes HBO/HBO Max, Warner Bros. Studios, and DC Comics for 43 billion dollars. Discovery is in the entertainment industry. They are a better fit for Warner Media.
On the heels of the AT&T spin-off of Warner Media, last week came the merger of Amazon and MGM. Amazon acquired MGM for 8 billion dollars, give or take a few hundred thousand. With this acquisition also came some of the big IPs, namely 4,000 plus films including the James Bond franchise, co-owned by Eon/The Broccoli Family, the Rocky franchise, Robocop, Stargate, the Silence of the Lambs franchise, the Pink Panther franchise, and the Legally Blonde franchise. Amazon also acquired the 17,000 tv shows that MGM has created in its past. All this would help strengthen Amazon Prime which is the streaming service of Amazon. They are looking to use some of these IPs to create new shows and movies down the road. The acquisition would help strengthen Amazon in the entertainment industry which is continuing to move more and more toward streaming services. This may have been a great deal for Jeff Bezos and Amazon.
With these major sales and acquisitions comes the inevitable question. What is going to happen to physical media involving these companies? With both Discovery and Amazon focusing on streaming services and theatrical releases, does physical media still have a chance with these power moves? Amazon already has a deal in place with Warner Media to sell their discs on their service Amazon Prime. The Warner Archive store is now on Amazon Prime. MGM has a huge library of shows and movies. This may lend itself to create exclusives for Amazon Prime so they get all the money, leaving Best Buy and Target out of the loop on these properties. The 4K format could really benefit from exclusive boxed sets for some of the James Bond films, Rocky, Robocop, and the others. Currently, MGM has deals in place with Criterion and Arrow Video that release physical media, but this could change with this acquisition. It may benefit everybody in the end, including Discovery who is merging with Warner Media. It would all come full circle for these companies
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