METRO-GOLDWYN-MAYER STUDIOS INC. (abbreviated as MGM or M-G-M, also
known as METRO-GOLDWYN-MAYER PICTURES, METRO-GOLDWYN-MAYER or simply
METRO, and for a former interval known as METRO-GOLDWYN-MAYER/UNITED
ARTISTS, or MGM/UA) is an American media company, involved primarily
in the production and distribution of feature films and television
Once the largest, most glamorous, and most revered film studio, MGM
was founded in 1924 when the entertainment entrepreneur Marcus Loew
gained control of
Metro Pictures ,
Goldwyn Pictures , and Louis B.
Mayer Pictures . Its headquarters are in
Beverly Hills, California .
It is one of the world's oldest film studios.
In 1971, it was announced that MGM would merge with 20th Century Fox
, a plan which never came into fruition. Over the next thirty-nine
years, the studio was bought and sold at various points in its history
until, on November 3, 2010, MGM filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy .
MGM emerged from bankruptcy on December 20, 2010, at which time the
Spyglass Entertainment ,
Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum
, became co-Chairmen and co-CEOs of the holding company of
As of 2017, MGM co-produces, co-finances, and co-distributes a
majority of its films with
Sony Pictures Entertainment , Paramount
MGM Resorts International , a Las Vegas -based hotel and casino
company listed on the
New York Stock Exchange
New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "MGM",
is not currently affiliated with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
* 1 Overview
* 2 History
* 2.1 Loews
* 2.2 MGM cartoon shorts
* 2.4 MGM/UA Entertainment
* 2.5 MGM Entertainment
* 2.6 MGM/UA Communications
* 2.7 MGM-
* 3 Headquarters
* 4 Leo logo and mottos
* 5 The MGM library
Turner Entertainment Co.
* 5.2 Acquired libraries
* 6 Films
* 7 See also
* 8 Notes
* 9 References
* 10 Further reading
* 11 External links
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reflect recent events or newly available information. (August 2014)
MGM was the last studio to convert to sound pictures, but in spite of
this fact, from the end of the silent film era through the late 1950s,
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer was the dominant motion picture studio in
Hollywood. Always slow to respond to the changing legal, economic,
and demographic nature of the motion picture industry during the 1950s
and 1960s, and although at times its films did well at the box
office, the studio lost significant amounts of money throughout the
1960s. In 1966, MGM was sold to Canadian investor Edgar Bronfman Sr.
, whose son Edgar Jr. would later buy
Universal Studios . Three years
later, an increasingly unprofitable MGM was bought by
Kirk Kerkorian ,
who slashed staff and production costs, forced the studio to produce
low-budget fare, and then shut down theatrical distribution in 1973.
The studio continued to produce five to six films a year that were
released through other studios, mostly
United Artists . Kerkorian did,
however, commit to increased production and an expanded film library
when he bought
United Artists in 1981.
MGM ramped up internal production, as well as keeping production
going at UA, which included the lucrative James Bond film franchise.
It also incurred significant amounts of debt to increase production.
The studio took on additional debt as a series of owners took charge
in the 1980s and early 1990s. In 1986,
Ted Turner bought MGM, but a
few months later, sold the company back to Kerkorian to recoup massive
debt, while keeping the library assets for himself. The series of
deals left MGM even more heavily in debt. MGM was bought by Pathé
Communications (led by Italian publishing magnate
Giancarlo Parretti )
in 1990, but Parretti lost control of
Pathé and defaulted on the
loans used to purchase the studio. The French banking conglomerate
Crédit Lyonnais , the studio's major creditor, then took control of
MGM. Even more deeply in debt, MGM was purchased by a joint venture
between Kerkorian, producer Frank Mancuso , and Australia's Seven
Network in 1996.
The debt load from these and subsequent business deals negatively
affected MGM's ability to survive as an independent motion picture
studio. After a bidding war which included
Time Warner (the current
parent of Turner Broadcasting) and
General Electric , MGM was acquired
on September 23, 2004 by a partnership consisting of Sony Corporation
of America ,
Texas Pacific Group (now TPG Capital, L.P.),
Providence Equity Partners , and other investors.
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Loews Cineplex Entertainment
In 1924, movie theater magnate
Marcus Loew had a problem. He had
Metro Pictures Corporation in 1919 for a steady supply of films
for his large Loew\'s Theatres chain. With Loew's lackluster
assortment of Metro films, Loew purchased
Goldwyn Pictures in 1924 to
improve the quality. However, these purchases created a need for
someone to oversee his new Hollywood operations, since longtime
Nicholas Schenck was needed in New York headquarters to
oversee the 150 theaters. Approached by
Louis B. Mayer
Louis B. Mayer , Loew
addressed the situation by buying
Louis B. Mayer Pictures
Louis B. Mayer Pictures on April 17,
1924. Mayer became head of the renamed Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, with
Irving Thalberg as head of production.
MGM produced more than 100 feature films in its first two years. In
1925, MGM released the extravagant and successful Ben-Hur , taking a
$4.7 million profit that year, its first full year. When Samuel
Goldwyn left he sue over the use of his name.
Marcus Loew died in 1927, and control of Loew's passed to Nicholas
Schenck. In 1929, William Fox of
Fox Film Corporation bought the Loew
family's holdings with Schenck's assent. Mayer and Thalberg disagreed
with the decision. Mayer was active in the
California Republican Party
and used his political connections to persuade the Justice Department
to delay final approval of the deal on antitrust grounds. During this
time, in the summer of 1929, Fox was badly hurt in an automobile
accident. By the time he recovered, the stock market crash in the fall
of 1929 had nearly wiped Fox out and ended any chance of the Loew's
merger going through. Schenck and Mayer had never gotten along (Mayer
reportedly referred to his boss as "Mr. Skunk"), and the abortive Fox
merger increased the animosity between the two men.
From the outset, MGM tapped into the audience's need for glamor and
sophistication. Having inherited few big names from their predecessor
companies, Mayer and Thalberg began at once to create and publicize a
host of new stars, among them
Greta Garbo , John Gilbert , William
Joan Crawford , and
Norma Shearer (who followed Thalberg from
Universal) . Established names like
Lon Chaney ,
William Powell ,
Buster Keaton , and
Wallace Beery were hired from other studios. They
also hired top directors such as
King Vidor ,
Clarence Brown , Erich
von Stroheim ,
Tod Browning , and
Victor Seastrom . The arrival of
talking pictures in 1928–29 gave opportunities to other new stars,
many of whom would carry MGM through the 1930s:
Clark Gable , Jean
Harlow , Robert Montgomery ,
Spencer Tracy ,
Myrna Loy , Jeanette
MacDonald , and
Nelson Eddy among them.
MGM was one of the first studios to experiment with filming in
Technicolor . Using the two-color
Technicolor process then available,
MGM filmed portions of The Uninvited Guest (1923), The Big Parade
(1925), and Ben–Hur (1925), among others, in the process. In 1928,
MGM released The Viking , the first complete
Technicolor feature with
sound (including a synchronized score and sound effects, but no spoken
With the arrival of talkies , MGM moved slowly and reluctantly into
sound, releasing features like
White Shadows in the South Seas with
music and sound effects, and
Alias Jimmy Valentine with limited
dialogue sequences. Their first full-fledged talkie, the musical The
Broadway Melody in 1929, however, was both a box-office success and
Academy Award as Best Picture of the Year; and brought MGM
into the sound era.
MGM, however, was the very last studio to convert to "talkies " with
its first all-color, "all-talking" sound feature with dialogue The
Rogue Song , a 1930 musical. In 1934, MGM included a sequence made in
Technicolor's superior new three-color process, a musical number in
the otherwise black-and-white The Cat and the Fiddle , starring
Jeanette MacDonald and
Ramon Novarro . The studio then produced a
number of three-color short subjects including 1935's musical La
Fiesta de Santa Barbara, but waited until 1938 to film a complete
feature in the process, Sweethearts with MacDonald and Nelson Eddy,
the earlier of the popular singing team's two films in color. From
then on, MGM regularly produced several films a year in Technicolor
with Northwest Passage being one of the most notable. Marie
Wallace Beery in
Min and Bill (1930)
In addition to a large short-subjects program of its own, MGM also
released the shorts and features produced by
Hal Roach Studios ,
including comedy shorts starring
Laurel and Hardy
Laurel and Hardy ,
Our Gang , and
Charley Chase . MGM's distribution deal with Roach lasted from 1927 to
1938, and MGM benefited in particular from the success of the popular
Laurel and Hardy
Laurel and Hardy films. In 1938, MGM purchased the rights to Our Gang
and moved the production in-house, continuing production of the
successful series of children's comedies until 1944. From 1929 to
1931, MGM produced a series of comedy shorts called All Barkie
Dogville Comedies , in which trained dogs were dressed up to parody
contemporary films and were voiced by actors. One of the shorts, The
Dogway Melody (1930), spoofed MGM's hit 1929 musical The Broadway
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer entered the music industry by purchasing the "Big
Three" starting with
Miller Music Publishing Co. in 1934 then Robbins
Music Corporation. In 1935,
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer acquired a
controlling interest in the capital stock of Leo Feist, Inc., the last
of the Big 3.
MGM produced around 50 pictures a year, though it never met its goal
of releasing a new motion picture each and every week (It was only
able to release one feature film every nine days). Loew's 153 theatres
were mostly located in New York, the Northeast, and Deep South; Gone
with the Wind had its world premiere at Loew\'s Grand Theatre in
Atlanta, Georgia. A fine reputation was gained for lavish productions
that were sophisticated and polished to cater to an urban audience.
Still, as the
Great Depression deepened, MGM began to economize by
"recycling" existing sets, costumes, and furnishings from yesteryear
projects. This recycling practice never let up once started. In
addition, MGM saved money because it was the only one of the big five
studios that did not own an off-site movie ranch . Until the
mid-1950s, MGM could make a claim its rivals could not: it never lost
money, although it did have an occasional disaster like Parnell
(1937), Clark Gable's biggest flop. It was the only Hollywood studio
that continued to pay dividends during the 1930s. Spencer Tracy
in Fury (1936)
MGM stars dominated the box office during the 1930s, and the studio
was credited for inventing the Hollywood stable of stars system, as
well. MGM contracted with the American Musical Academy of Arts
Association to handle all of their press and artist development. The
AMAAA's main function was to develop the budding stars and to make
them appealing to the public. Stars such as Norma Shearer, Joan
Crawford, Greta Garbo,
Myrna Loy and
Jeanette MacDonald reigned as the
top-paid figures at the studio. Another MGM sex symbol actress, Jean
Harlow , who had previously appeared in the
Howard Hughes film Hell\'s
Angels , now had a big break and became one of MGM's most admired
stars, as well. Despite Miss Harlow's gain, Garbo still was a big star
for MGM. Shearer was still a money maker despite screen appearances
becoming scarce, and Crawford continued her box-office power until
1937. MGM would also receive a boost through the man who would become
"King of Hollywood", Clark Gable. Gable's career took off to new
heights after he won an Oscar for the 1934 Columbia film It Happened
One Night . Mayer and Irving Thalberg's relationship began warmly, but
eventually the two became estranged; Thalberg preferred literary works
to the crowd-pleasers Mayer wanted. Thalberg, always physically frail,
was removed as head of production in 1932. Mayer encouraged other
staff producers, among them his son-in-law David O. Selznick, but no
one seemed to have the sure touch of Thalberg. As Thalberg fell
increasingly ill in 1936, Louis Mayer could now serve as his temporary
replacement. Rumors flew that Thalberg was leaving to set up his own
independent company; his early death in 1936, at age 37, cost MGM
After Thalberg's death, Mayer became head of production, as well as
studio chief, becoming the first million-dollar executive in American
history. The company remained profitable, although a change toward
"series" pictures (
Andy Hardy starring
Mickey Rooney , Maisie starring
Ann Sothern , Thin Man starring
William Powell and
Myrna Loy , et al.)
is seen by some as evidence of Mayer's restored influence. Also
playing a huge role was Ida Koverman, Mayer's secretary and right
In 1937, Mayer had hired
Mervyn LeRoy , a former WB producer/director
as MGM's top producer and Thalberg's replacement. LeRoy talked Mayers
into purchasing the film right to the Wizard of Oz, which MGM did on
June 3, 1938 from Sam Goldwyn for $75,000.
Hits in 1939 included The Wizard of Oz , Boys Town and Gone with the
Wind , starring
Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O'Hara and
Clark Gable as
Rhett Butler. Although Gone With the Wind was produced by Selznick
International Pictures , it was distributed by MGM as part of a deal
David O. Selznick , L.B. Mayer's son-in-law, to obtain
the services of
Clark Gable as well as financial assistance to
complete the film. MGM acquired all rights to Gone With the Wind in
1944 after the foundering of Selznick International. While The Wizard
of Oz was a critical hit, the film took 20 years before turning a
Within one year, beginning in 1942, L.B. Mayer released his five
highest-paid actresses from their studio contracts;
Joan Crawford ,
Norma Shearer ,
Greta Garbo ,
Myrna Loy and
Jeanette MacDonald . After
a two-year hiatus, Crawford moved to
Warner Bros. , where her career
took a dramatic upturn. Shearer and Garbo never made another film
after leaving the lot. Of the five stars, Loy and MacDonald were the
only two whom Mayer rehired, in 1947 and 1948 respectively.
Increasingly, before and during World War II, Mayer came to rely on
his "College of Cardinals" — senior producers who controlled the
studio's output. This management-by-committee may explain why MGM
seemed to lose its momentum, developing few new stars and relying on
the safety of sequels and bland material. (
Dorothy Parker memorably
referred to it as "Metro-Goldwyn-Merde." ) Production values remained
high, and even "B" pictures carried a polish and gloss that made them
expensive to mount. After 1940, production was cut from 50 pictures a
year to a more manageable 25 features per year. During this time, MGM
released very successful musicals with players such as
Judy Garland ,
Fred Astaire ,
Gene Kelly , and
Frank Sinatra , to name just a few.
Audiences began drifting to television in the late forties. MGM found
it difficult to attract them to theaters. With its high overhead
expenses, MGM's profit margins continued to decrease. Word came from
Nicholas Schenck in New York: find "a new Thalberg" who could improve
quality while paring costs. Mayer thought he had found this savior in
Dore Schary , a writer and producer who had found success at running
RKO . Top notch musicals were Schary's focus, with hits like Easter
Parade and the various films of
Mario Lanza (most famously, The Great
Caruso ) keeping MGM afloat.
In August 1951, Mayer was fired by MGM's East Coast executives and
was replaced by Schary.
Gradually cutting loose expensive contract players (perhaps most
Judy Garland in 1950), saving money by
recycling existing movie sets instead of building costly new scenery,
and reworking pricey old costumes, Schary managed to keep the studio
running much as it had through the early 1940s though his
sensibilities for hard-edged, message movies would never bear much
fruit. One bright spot was MGM musical pictures, under the aegis of
producer Arthur Freed, who was operating what amounted to an
independent unit within the studio. MGM produced some well-regarded
and profitable musicals that would be later acknowledged as classics,
among them An American in Paris (1951), Singin\' in the Rain (1952),
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954). However, Brigadoon (1954),
Deep in My Heart (1954), It\'s Always Fair Weather (1955), and
Invitation to the Dance (1956), were extravagant song and dance flops,
and even the now-classic
The Band Wagon
The Band Wagon (1953) lost money in its
initial release. Movie audiences more and more were staying home and
In 1952, as a settlement of the government's restraint-of-trade
United States v. Paramount Pictures, Inc. 334 US 131 (1948),
Loews, Inc. gave up control of MGM. It would take another five years
before the interlocking arrangements were completely undone, by which
time both Loews and MGM were sinking. Schary bowed out of MGM in 1956
in another power struggle against the New York-based executives.
As the studio system faded in the late 1950s and 1960s, MGM's
prestige faded with it. In 1957 (by coincidence, the year L.B. Mayer
died), the studio lost money for the first time in its 34-year
history. Cost overruns and the failure of the 1957 big-budget epic
Raintree County prompted the studio to release Schary from his
contract. Schary's reign at MGM had been marked with few bona-fide
hits, but his departure (along with the retirement of Schenck in 1955)
left a power vacuum that would prove difficult to fill. Initially
Joseph Vogel became president and
Sol Siegel head of production. By
1960, MGM had released all of its contract players, with many either
retiring or moving on to television.
MGM's first TV programs, The
MGM Parade , was produced by MGM's
trailer department as one of the compilation and promotional shows
that imitated Disney's series Disneyland which was also on ABC .
Parade was canceled by ABC in the 2nd quarter of 1956. MGM took bids
for its movie library in 1956 from Lou Chesler , PRM, Inc. owner (the
WB pre-1948 library purchaser), and others, but decided on entering
the TV market itself. Chesler had offered $50 million for the film
library. MGM-TV was started with the hiring of Bud Barry to head up
the operation in June 1956. MGM-TV was to distribute its films to TV
(starting with the networks), TV production and purchasing TV
stations. TV production was expect to start with the 1957-58 season
and was to include half-hour remakes of or series based on its
pictures. Initial feature film sales focused on selling to the
The year 1957 also marked the end of MGM's animation department, as
the studio determined it could generate the same amount of revenue by
reissuing older cartoons as it could by producing and releasing new
William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, by then the heads of the MGM
cartoon studio, took most of their unit and made their own company,
Hanna-Barbera Productions , a successful producer of television
In 1956, MGM sold the television rights for The Wizard of Oz to
which scheduled it to be shown in November of that year. In a landmark
event, the film became the first American theatrical fiction film to
be shown complete in one evening on prime time television over a major
American commercial network. (Olivier\'s version of Hamlet was shown
on prime time network TV a month later, but split in half over two
weeks, and the 1950 film, The Titan: Story of Michelangelo was
telecast by ABC in 1952, but that was a documentary.) Beginning in
1959, and lasting until 1991, telecasts of The Wizard of Oz became an
annual tradition, drawing huge audiences in homes all over the U.S.
and earning additional profits for MGM. The studio was all too happy
to see Oz become, through television, one of the two or three most
famous films MGM has ever made, and one of the few films that nearly
everybody in the U.S. has seen at least once. Today The Wizard of Oz
is regularly shown on the Turner -owned channels, no longer just once
In 1958, MGM released what is generally considered its last great
Arthur Freed 's Cinemascope color production of Gigi ,
Leslie Caron ,
Maurice Chevalier , and
Louis Jourdan . It was
adapted from the novel by
Colette , and written by the team of Lerner
and Loewe , who also wrote My Fair Lady and Camelot. Gigi was a
box-office and critical success which won nine
Academy Awards ,
including Best Picture . From it came several hit songs, including
Thank Heaven For Little Girls, I Remember It Well, the Waltz at
Maxim's, and the Oscar-winning title song. The film was the last MGM
musical to win a Best Picture Oscar, an honor that had previously gone
The Broadway Melody (1929),
The Great Ziegfeld
The Great Ziegfeld (1936), and An
American in Paris (1951). The very last musical film produced by the
"Freed Unit " was an adaptation of the Broadway musical Bells Are
Ringing (1960) with
Judy Holliday and
Dean Martin . However, MGM did
release later musical films, including an adaptation of Meredith
Willson 's The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964) with
Debbie Reynolds and
Harve Presnell .
MGM CARTOON SHORTS
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer cartoon studio
In animation, MGM purchased the rights in 1930 to distribute a series
of cartoons that starred a character named
Flip the Frog
Flip the Frog , produced by
Ub Iwerks . The first cartoon in this series (entitled Fiddlesticks)
was the first sound cartoon to be produced in two-color Technicolor.
Ub Iwerks cancelled the unsuccessful
Flip the Frog
Flip the Frog series and
MGM began to distribute its second series of cartoons, starring a
Willie Whopper , that was also produced by Ub Iwerks.
In 1934, after Iwerks' distribution contract expired, MGM contracted
with animation producers/directors Hugh Harman and Rudolph Ising to
produce a new series of color cartoons.
Harman and Ising came to MGM
after breaking ties with
Leon Schlesinger and Warner Bros., and
brought with them their popular
Looney Tunes character,
Bosko . These
were known as
Happy Harmonies , and in many ways resembled the Looney
Tunes' sister series,
Merrie Melodies . The
Happy Harmonies regularly
ran over budget, and MGM dismissed Harman-Ising in 1937 to start its
own animation studio .
After initial struggles with a poorly received series of The Captain
and the Kids cartoons, the studio rehired
Harman and Ising in 1939,
and Ising created the studio's first successful animated character,
Barney Bear . However, MGM's biggest cartoon stars would come in the
form of the cat-and-mouse duo
Tom and Jerry , created by William Hanna
Joseph Barbera in 1940. The
Tom and Jerry cartoons won seven
Academy Awards between 1943 and 1953. In 1941,
Tex Avery , another
Schlesinger alumnus, joined the animation department. Avery gave the
unit its image, with successes like "
Red Hot Riding Hood ", "Swing
Shift Cinderella ", and the
Avery left the studio in 1953, leaving Hanna and Barbera to focus on
Tom and Jerry and
Droopy series. After 1955, all cartoons
were filmed in
CinemaScope until MGM closed its cartoon division in
In 1959, MGM enjoyed what is quite probably its greatest financial
success of later years, with the release of its nearly four-hour
Technicolor epic Ben–Hur , a remake of its 1925 silent film hit,
loosely based on the novel by General
Lew Wallace . Starring Charlton
Heston in the title role, the film was critically acclaimed, and won
11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, a record that held until
Titanic matched it in 1997 and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of
the King in 2003.
In 1961, MGM resumed the release of new
Tom and Jerry shorts, and
production moved to Rembrandt Films in
the Czech Republic) under the supervision of
Gene Deitch . Deitch's
Tom and Jerry cartoons are vastly inferior to the original Hanna and
Barbera style of animation. In 1963, the production of Tom and Jerry
returned to Hollywood under
Chuck Jones and his Sib Tower 12
Productions studio (later absorbed by MGM and renamed MGM
Animation/Visual Arts ). Jones' group also produced its own works,
winning an Oscar for
The Dot and the Line , as well as producing the
classic television version of
Dr. Seuss 's How the Grinch Stole
Christmas! (with the voice of
Boris Karloff ) in 1966. Tom and Jerry
folded in 1967, and the animation department continued with television
specials and one feature film, The Phantom Tollbooth .
During this period, MGM fell into a habit that would eventually sink
the studio: an entire year's production schedule relied on the success
of one big-budget epic each year. This policy began in 1959, when
Ben–Hur was profitable enough to carry the studio through 1960.
However, four succeeding big-budget epics — like Ben–Hur, each a
remake — failed: Cimarron (1960), King of Kings (1961), Four
Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1961), and, most notoriously, the 1962
Mutiny on the Bounty . The 1962
Cinerama film The Wonderful World of
the Brothers Grimm , the first film in
Cinerama to actually tell a
story, was also a flop. But one other epic that was a success,
however, was the MGM-
Cinerama co-production How the West Was Won ,
with a huge all-star cast. King of Kings, while a commercial and
critical flop at the time, has since come to be regarded as a film
classic. The losses caused by these films led to the resignations of
Sol Siegel and Joseph Vogel who were replaced by Robert M. Weitman
(head of production) and Robert O\'Brien (president).
The combination of O'Brien and Weitman seemed to temporarily revive
the studio. In 1965 MGM released
David Lean 's immensely popular
Doctor Zhivago , later followed by such hits as The Dirty Dozen
(1967) and 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). However the company's time
was taken up fighting off proxy attacks by corporate raiders , and
then MGM backed a series of flops, including Ryan\'s Daughter (1970).
Weitman moved over to Columbia in 1967 and O'Brien was forced to
resign a few years later.
In the mid-1960s, MGM began to diversify by investing in real estate.
Edgar Bronfman Sr. purchased a controlling interest in MGM in 1966
(and was briefly chairman of the board in 1969), and in 1967 Time
Inc. became the company's second-largest shareholder.
Kirk Kerkorian purchased 40 percent of MGM from Bronfman and
Time, Inc., What appealed to Kerkorian was MGM's Culver City real
estate, and the value of 45 years' worth of glamour associated with
the name, which he attached to a Las Vegas hotel and casino . As for
film-making, that part of the company was quickly and severely
downsized under the supervision of
James T. Aubrey Jr. With changes in
its business model including fewer pictures per year, more location
shooting and more distribution of independent productions, MGM's
operations were reduced. Aubrey sold off MGM's accumulation of props,
furnishings and historical memorabilia, including a pair of Dorothy's
ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz. Lot 3, 40 acres (160,000 m2) of
back-lot property, was sold off for real-estate development. In 1971,
it was announced that MGM was in talks with
20th Century Fox
20th Century Fox about a
possible merger, a plan which never came into fruition. Under Aubrey,
MGM also sold off
MGM Records and its overseas theater holdings.
Through the 1970s, studio output slowed considerably as Aubrey
preferred four or five medium-budget pictures each year along with a
smattering of low-budget fare. In October 1973 and in decline in
output, MGM closed MGM's distribution offices then outsourced
distribution for its library for a ten-year period along with selling
its music publishing arm, Robbins, Feist "> Because of this,
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Film Co. was renamed "MGM/UA Entertainment
Octopussy were MGM/UA's only early 1980s hits, but did
not push MGM into the profit range that Kerkorian wanted. MGM/UA
formed a trio of subsidiaries, the MGM/UA Home Entertainment Group ,
MGM/UA Classics, and the MGM/UA Television Group in 1982. Kerkorian
offered to purchase the remaining outstanding MGM shares he did not
own to take the company private but was met with resistance.
After the purchase of United Artists, David Begelman's duties were
transferred to that unit. Under Begelman, MGM/UA produced a number of
unsuccessful films, and he was fired in July 1982. Out of the 11 films
he put into production, by the time of his release from the studio,
only one film, Poltergeist , proved to be a clear hit. Not even MGM's
greatest asset - its library - was enough to keep the studio afloat.
After 1982, the studio relied more on distribution, picking up
independent productions, rather than financing their own.
The MGM sign being dismantled once Lorimar took control of the
On August 7, 1985,
Turner Broadcasting System
Turner Broadcasting System offered to buy MGM/UA.
As film licensing to television became more complicated, Ted Turner
saw the value of acquiring MGM's film library for his Superstation
WTBS . On March 25 of the following year, the deal was finalized in a
cash-stock deal for $1.5 billion, and the company was renamed "MGM
Entertainment Co.". Turner immediately sold MGM's United Artists
subsidiary back to Kerkorian for roughly $480 million. But since
they were quite unable to find financing for the rest of the deal, and
because of these concerns in the financial community over the
debt-load of his companies on August 26, 1986, Turner was forced to
sell MGM's production and distribution assets to
United Artists for
$300 million. The MGM lot and lab facilities were sold to
Lorimar-Telepictures . Turner kept the pre-May 1986 library of MGM
films, along with the RKO Radio Pictures and pre-1950 Warner Bros.
United Artists had previously purchased.
How much of MGM's back catalog Turner actually obtained was a point
of conflict for a time; eventually, it was determined that Turner
owned all of the pre-May 1986 MGM library, as well as the pre-1950
Warner Bros. catalog, the
Popeye cartoons released by Paramount
(both the pre-1950 WB library and
Popeye cartoons were sold to
Associated Artists Productions , which was later bought by United
Artists), the US/Canadian rights to the RKO library, in addition to
MGM's television series and Gilligan\'s Island , produced by UA.
Turner began broadcasting MGM films through his Turner Network
Television , and caused a controversy when he began "colorizing " many
After Kerkorian reclaimed MGM in August 1986, the MGM/UA name
continued to be used, but the company changed its name, this time to
MGM/UA Communications Co., now using MGM and UA as separate brands.
In July 1988, Kerkorian announced plans to split MGM and UA into
separate studios. Under this deal, Kerkorian, who owned 82% of MGM/UA
Communications, would have sold 25% of MGM to Barris Industries
(controlled by producers
Burt Sugarman ,
Jon Peters , and Peter Guber
). The proposition to spin off MGM was called off a few weeks later.
In 1989, Australian-based
Qintex attempted to buy MGM from Kerkorian,
but the deal collapsed. On November 29, 1989, Turner (owners of the
pre-May 1986 MGM library) attempted to buy Tracinda's entertainment
assets such as MGM/UA Communications Co. but every time the deal had
Main article: MGM-
In 1990, Italian financier
Giancarlo Parretti announced he was about
to buy MGM/UA. Although the French government had scuttled Parretti's
bid to buy
Pathé due to concerns about his character, background, and
past dealings, Parretti got backing from
Crédit Lyonnais and bought
MGM/UA from Kirk Kerkorian. To finance the purchase, Parretti licensed
the MGM/UA library to
Time Warner for home video and Turner for
domestic television rights until 2003. He then merged it with his
Pathé Communications Corporation (formerly Cannon Group, a
distributor that Parretti had renamed before his aborted bid for
Pathé) to form MGM–Pathe Communications Co. The well-respected
Alan Ladd Jr. , a former president of MGM/UA, was brought
on board as CEO of MGM in 1991. However, a year later, Parretti's
ownership of MGM–
Pathé dissolved in a flurry of lawsuits and a
default by Crédit Lyonnais, and Parretti faced securities -fraud
charges in the
United States and Europe.
On the verge of bankruptcy and failure,
Crédit Lyonnais took full
control of MGM–
Pathé via loan default in mid-1992 and converted its
name back to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. The bank fired Ladd and replaced him
with former Paramount executive
Frank Mancuso Sr. . Mancuso then hired
Michael Marcus as chairman, MGM Pictures and former Warner Bros.
John Calley as
United Artists head. A television production
division was started up. As part of his exit package, Ladd took some
of the top properties, including
MGM Holdings, Inc. was formed to take on about $1 billion in MGM's
liabilities off MGM's balance sheet in the third quarter of 1993.
Credit Lyonnais extended a $400 million line of credit allowing a
Chemical Bank lead bank group to extend a $350 million line of credit
in 1994. In 1994, MGM had a hit in Stargate .
Because of the way it had acquired control of the company, Crédit
Lyonnais soon put the studio up for sale, with the highest bidder
being Kirk Kerkorian. Now the owner of MGM for the third time,
Kerkorian's deal with Mancuso quickly angered John Calley, who quit
United Artists and was named head of Sony Pictures Entertainment. By
selling a portion of the studio to Australia's
Seven Network ,
Kerkorian was able to convince Wall Street that a revived MGM was
worthy of a place on the stock market, where it languished until he
sold the company to a group of hedge funds tied to Sony, which wanted
to control the studio library to promote the
Blu-ray Disc format.
On April 11, 1997, MGM bought
Metromedia 's film subsidiaries (Orion
Pictures , The
Samuel Goldwyn Company , and the Motion Picture
Corporation of America ) for US$573 million, substantially enlarging
its library of films and television series and acquiring additional
production capacity. The deal closed in July of that year. This
catalog, along with the James Bond franchise, was considered to be
MGM's primary asset. In the same year, MGM's long-running cable
Stargate SG-1 , first aired. Kerkorian bought out
Seven Network the following year.
In December 1997, MGM attempted to purchase 1,000 films held by
Consortium de Réalisation , but was outbid by
PolyGram . However,
they ultimately succeeded when they acquired the 2/3 of pre-1996
PolyGram Filmed Entertainment library from
Seagram in 1999 for $250
million, increasing their library holdings to 4,000. Prior to that,
MGM had held a home video license for 100 of the films since spring
PolyGram libraries were purchased by its Orion Pictures
subsidiary so as to avoid its 1990 video distribution agreement with
Warner. The studio also obtained the broadcast rights to more than
800 of its films previously licensed to Turner Broadcasting.
By 1998, MGM had started a specialty film unit using The Samuel
Goldwyn Company under the Goldwyn Films name.
Samuel Goldwyn Jr. sued
Metromedia over salary and damages when he work at Goldwyn Company
Metromedia and sued MGM over the used of the Goldwyn name
claiming trademark infringement and unfair competition. MGM and
Metromedia settled in January 10, 1999 with MGM's Goldwyn Films
changing its name to G2 Films.
In 2000, MGM changed the way it distributed its products
internationally. MGM had until that time distributed its films
United International Pictures (UIP), a joint
venture of MGM, Universal Pictures, DreamWorks Pictures and Paramount
Pictures. UIP was accused by the
European Union of being an illegal
cartel , and effective November 2000 MGM severed its ties with UIP
and distributed films internationally through
20th Century Fox
20th Century Fox .
MGM purchased 20% of ] from
Cablevision Systems for $825 million in
2001. MGM attempted to take over
Universal Studios in 2003, but
failed, and was forced to sell several of its cable channel
investments (taking a $75-million loss on the deal).
In 2004, many of MGM's competitors started to make bids to purchase
the studio, beginning with
Time Warner . It was not unexpected that
Time Warner would bid, since the largest shareholder in the company
was Ted Turner. His
Turner Entertainment Group had risen to success in
part through its ownership of the pre-May 1986 MGM library. After a
short period of negotiation with MGM,
Time Warner was unsuccessful.
The leading bidder proved to be
Sony Corporation of America
Sony Corporation of America , backed
Comcast and private equity firms
Texas Pacific Group (now TPG
Capital, L.P.), DLJ and
Providence Equity Partners . Sony's primary
goal was to ensure
Blu-ray Disc support at MGM; cost synergies with
Sony Pictures Entertainment were secondary.
Time Warner made a
Ted Turner reportedly tried to block), but on
September 13, 2004, Sony increased its bid of US$11.25/share (roughly
$4.7 billion) to $12/share ($5 billion), and
Time Warner subsequently
withdrew its bid of $11/share ($4.5 billion). MGM and Sony agreed on a
purchase price of nearly $5 billion, of which about $2 billion was to
pay off MGM debt. From 2005 to 2006, the Columbia TriStar Motion
Picture Group domestically distributed films by MGM and UA.
MGM announced it would return as a theatrical distribution company.
MGM struck deals with
The Weinstein Company , Lakeshore Entertainment
, Bauer Martinez, and many other independent studios, and then
announced its plans to release 14 feature films for 2006 and early
2007. MGM also hoped to increase the amount to over 20 by 2007. Lucky
Number Slevin , released April 7, was the first film released under
the new MGM era. Other recent films under the MGM/Weinstein deal
Clerks II and Bobby . Upon the MGM/Weinstein films' release on
home video, however, full distribution rights revert to Weinstein
Genius Products ).
On May 31, 2006, MGM announced it would transfer the majority of its
home video output from
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment to 20th
Century Fox Home Entertainment .
MGM also announced plans to restructure its worldwide television
distribution operation. In addition, MGM signed a deal with New Line
Television in which MGM would handle New Line's U.S. film and series
television syndication packages. MGM served as New Line's barter sales
representative in the television arena until 2008.
A tentative agreement was signed in Seoul on March 15, 2006 between
MGM, South Korea-based entertainment agency Glovit and
official for a theme park schedule to open in 2011. MGM Studio City
was project to cost $1.02 billion build on 245 acres owned by the city
in planned tourist district and contain 27 attractions, a film academy
with movie sets, hotels, restaurants and shopping facilities. Glovit
was expected to find funding and oversee management of the park, while
MGM received a licensing agreement making them handle content and
overall planning and the option to buy a 5%-10% share.
On November 2, 2006, producer/actor
Tom Cruise and his production
Paula Wagner , signed an agreement with MGM to run United
Artists . Wagner will serve as United Artists' chief executive.
Cruise will produce and star in films for UA, and MGM will distribute
Over the next several years, MGM launched a number of initiatives in
distribution and the use of new technology and media, as well as joint
ventures to promote and sell its products. In April 2007, it was
announced that MGM movies would be able to be downloaded through
Apple's iTunes service, with MGM bringing an estimated 100 of its
existing movies to iTunes service, the California-based computer
company revealed. The list of movies included the likes of modern
features such as
Rocky , Ronin ,
Mad Max , and
Dances with Wolves ,
along with more golden-era classics such as Lilies of the Field and
The Great Train Robbery . In October, the company launched
MGM HD on
DirecTV , offering a library of movies formatted in Hi Def. Also in
2006, MGM licensed its home video distribution rights for countries
outside of the
United States to
20th Century Fox
20th Century Fox . MGM teamed up with
Weigel Broadcasting to launch a new channel titled
This TV on November
1, 2008. On August 12, 2008, MGM teamed up with
Comcast to launch a
new video-on-demand network titled Impact. On November 10, 2008, MGM
announced that it will release full-length films on
On April 14, 2008, a South Korea government agency announced that MGM
Incheon International Airport
Incheon International Airport Corporation agreed to build MGM
Studio Theme Park. The selected site was a 1.5 million square meter
Yeongjongdo island property near the
Incheon International Airport
Incheon International Airport .
However, the park was designed but never built.
As of mid-2009, MGM had US$3.7 billion in debt, and interest payments
alone totaled $250 million a year. MGM earns approximately $500
million a year on income from its extensive film and television
library, but the economic recession is reported to have reduced this
Whether MGM could avoid voluntary or involuntary bankruptcy had been
a topic of much discussion in the film industry. MGM had to repay a
$250-million line of credit in April 2010, a $1-billion loan in June
2011, and its remaining US$2.7 billion in loans in 2012. In May 2009,
MGM's auditor gave the company a clean bill of health, concluding it
was still on track to meet its debt obligations. At that time, the
company was negotiating with its creditors to either extend the debt
repayment deadlines or engage in a debt-for-equity swap. Industry
observers, however, questioned whether MGM could avoid a Chapter-11
bankruptcy filing under any circumstances, and concluded that any
failure to conclude the negotiations must trigger a filing. MGM and
United Artists subsidiary were now producing very few films each
year, and it was widely believed that MGM's solvency would depend on
the box-office performance of these films (especially
There was some indication that
Relativity Media and its financial
backer, Elliott Associates (a hedge fund based in New York), had been
acquiring MGM debt in an attempt to force the company into involuntary
On August 17, 2009, chief executive officer
Harry E. Sloan
Harry E. Sloan stepped
down and MGM hired Stephen F. Cooper as its new CEO, a corporate
executive who guided
Enron through its post-
2001 bankruptcy and
oversaw the restructuring and growth of
Krispy Kreme in 2005.
Expectations were that Cooper was hired to act quickly on MGM's debt
problems. On October 1, 2009, the studio's new leadership negotiated
a forbearance agreement with its creditors under which interest
payments due from September to November 2009 did not have to be paid
until December 15, 2009.
MGM stated in February 2010 that the studio would likely be sold in
the next four months, and that its latest film,
Hot Tub Time Machine ,
might be one of the last four films to bear the MGM name. However,
some stated that the company might continue as a label for new James
Bond productions, as well as other movie properties culled from the
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and 160 affiliates filed for
Chapter 11 bankruptcy on November 3, 2010 with a prepackaged plan for
exiting bankruptcy which led to MGM's creditors taking over the
company. On December 20, 2010, MGM executives announced that the
studio had emerged from bankruptcy.
Spyglass Entertainment executives
Gary Barber and
Roger Birnbaum became co-Chairs and co-CEOs of the
On January 4, 2011, MGM and
Weigel Broadcasting announced plans to
MeTV nationwide. On February 2, 2011, MGM named Jonathan
Glickman to be the film president of MGM. Six days later, MGM was
finalizing a distribution deal with
Sony Pictures Entertainment to
handle distribution of its 4,000 films and DVDs worldwide and on
digital platforms, including the two upcoming Bond films:
Spectre . There were four studios who were bidding on the Bond
Paramount Pictures ,
Warner Bros. Pictures, 20th
Century Fox, and Columbia Pictures. Paramount was the first studio who
dropped out of the Bond bidding. The deal was finalized on April 13,
2011. Post-bankruptcy, MGM also co-financed SPE's The Girl with the
Dragon Tattoo . 20th Century Fox's deal with MGM handling its library
distribution worldwide was set to expire in September 2011. However,
the deal was renewed and extended on April 14, 2011 and, after five
years, was renewed and extended again on June 27, 2016. It will expire
in June 2020.
MGM moved forward with several upcoming projects, including remakes
of RoboCop and Poltergeist , and released their first
post-bankruptcy film Zookeeper , which was co-distributed by Columbia
Pictures on July 8, 2011. The new MGM, under Barber and Birnbaum's
control, focuses on co-investing on films made by another party, which
handle all distribution and marketing for the projects. MGM handles
international television distribution rights for the new films as well
as its library of existing titles and also retains its in-house
production service. In separate 2011 deals, the rights to MGM's
completed films Red Dawn and
The Cabin in the Woods were dealt to
FilmDistrict as well as
Lionsgate Films , respectively.
On October 3, 2012, Birnbaum announced his intention to exit his role
as an MGM executive and return to "hands-on" producing. He will remain
with the studio to produce films on "an exclusive basis". In May
2014, MGM introduced The Works , a channel available in 31 percent of
the country, including stations owned by Titan Broadcast Management .
In 2013 the Orion brand was revived as a TV production label for a
syndicated court show.
Orion Pictures name was extended in fourth
quarter 2014 for smaller domestic and international video on demand
and limited theatrical releases.
On November 6, 2015,
Sony Pictures Entertainment 's distribution deal
to co-produce the James Bond film series with MGM and Eon Productions
expired with the release of Spectre . Various studios namely Warner
Universal Studios ,
20th Century Fox
20th Century Fox ,
Paramount Pictures ,
Annapurna Pictures are vying to solidify a role in the rights
to the next film; with MGM and Eon only offering a one-film contract.
In March 2017, MGM announced a multi-year distribution deal with
Annapurna Pictures for some international markets and including home
entertainment, theatrical and television rights.
Since August 22, 2011, its headquarters have been in Beverly Hills,
California . MGM rents space in a six-story office building. The
144,000-square-foot (13,400 m2) facility was originally constructed
for the venerable William Morris talent agency , but had remained all
but unoccupied until MGM's move because of the agency's merger with
Endeavor Talent Agency in April 2009. MGM planned to house a private
theater and a private outdoor patio in the building.
Prior to 2003, its headquarters had been in the Colorado Center in
California , occupying at least 150,000 square feet
(14,000 m2) of space there. In 2000 MGM announced that it was moving
its headquarters to a new building in Century City that was to be the
first high-rise in
Los Angeles to be completed in the 21st century.
Upon the company's agreement to be its lead tenant halfway through the
design building process, the structure became identified as the MGM
Tower , opening in 2003. When MGM moved into the lavishly appointed
spaces devised by
Alex Yemenidjian , former chairperson and chief
executive of MGM, Roger Vincent and Claudia Eller observed in the Los
Angeles Times that "Yemenidjian spared no expense in building out the
studio's space with such Las Vegas -style flourishes as towering
marble pillars and a grand spiral staircase lined with a wall of
Scott Johnson, the architect, designed the bottom third of the tower
with extra-large floors so MGM executives could have outdoor decks.
Seemingly no expense was spared, from the marble imported from Italy
for MGM's area to the company's exclusive use of a dedicated private
garage, security checkpoint, and elevator bank: all to enable
celebrities who visited the complex discreet entry and exit, bypassing
public spaces. One of three screening rooms placed in the tower was a
100-seat theater on the ground floor (later taken over by
International Creative Management in December 2010). The 14th floor
lobby housed the executive suites and a wall of Oscar statuettes for
Academy Award -winning films. The street leading to the building's
garage was renamed MGM Drive and a large MGM logo, illuminated at
night, crowned the top of the building. As of December 2010, MGM
rented 200,000-square-foot (19,000 m2) of space in the
MGM Tower at a
cost of almost $5 per square foot per month.
Emerging from bankruptcy protection in 2010, MGM announced that it
planned to relocate the headquarters to Beverly Hills as part of an
effort toward removing almost $5 billion in debt since the lease in
Century City was not scheduled to expire until 2018. Vincent and Eller
said that MGM's per square foot monthly rent would be far lower in the
Beverly Hills building than in the MGM Tower. Larry Kozmont, a real
estate consultant not involved in the process, said "It's a prudent
move for them. Downsizing and relocating to a space that is still
prominent but not overly ostentatious and burdened by expenses is
fundamental for their survival." MGM vacated its namesake tower on
August 19, 2011.
LEO LOGO AND MOTTOS
MGM Tower , former company headquarters highlighted by the
famous Leo the Lion logo at the top
The studio's official motto , "Ars Gratia Artis", is a
meaning "Art for art\'s sake ". It was chosen by
Howard Dietz ,
the studio's chief publicist. The studio's logo is a roaring lion
surrounded by a ring of film inscribed with the studio's motto. The
logo, which features Leo the Lion , was created by Dietz in 1916 for
Goldwyn Pictures and updated in 1924 for MGM's use. Dietz based the
logo on his alma mater's mascot , the
Columbia University lion.
Originally silent, the sound of Leo the Lion's roar was added to films
for the first time in August 1928. In the 1930s and 1940s, the studio
billed itself as having "more stars than there are in heaven", a
reference to the large number of
A-list movie stars under contract to
the company. This second motto was also coined by Dietz
and was first used in 1932.
THE MGM LIBRARY
TURNER ENTERTAINMENT CO.
Following his brief ownership of the company in 1986, Ted Turner
Turner Entertainment Co. as a holding company for the pre-May
1986 MGM film and television library, which he retained. After
Turner's holdings were purchased by
Time Warner in 1996, they
ultimately became integrated into the
Warner Bros. library, though
the copyright claimant to these titles is still "Turner Entertainment
Co." For some time after the sale, MGM continued to handle home video
distribution of its pre-May 1986 film and TV library and began to
handle home video distribution of the pre-1950
Warner Bros. films;
those rights were reassigned to
Warner Home Video
Warner Home Video in 1999.
Through its acquisitions of many different companies and film and
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer has greatly enhanced its
film and television holdings.
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's library includes its own post-April 1986
library as well as the film and television libraries of:
United Artists , including:
Monogram Pictures films released from 1931 to 1946
Orion Pictures , including:
Filmways , including:
American International Pictures
* MCEG Sterling Entertainment
Samuel Goldwyn Company , including:
* North American distribution rights to the
Rank Organisation film
Motion Picture Corporation of America (1986–1996 library)
PolyGram Filmed Entertainment (pre-March 31, 1996 library),
Virgin Films /Palace Pictures catalog
* Island Pictures , including:
Atlantic Entertainment Group , including:
* Clubhouse Pictures
* CDR 's Epic library
Castle Rock Entertainment (pre-1994 library)
Hemdale Film Corporation
* Sherwood Productions/Gladden Entertainment
* Nelson Entertainment , including:
* Galactic Films, Inc.
* Spikings Corporation
Empire International Pictures , including:
* Urban Classics
The Cannon Group, Inc.
The Cannon Group, Inc.
21st Century Film Corporation
List of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer films
Los Angeles portal
* Companies portal
* Film portal
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer cartoon studio
MGM Animation/Visual Arts
MGM Worldwide Television
MGM Home Entertainment
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