MGM’s extensive film & TV catalogue, built over the past century, was the main driver behind Amazon’s $8.5B acquisition of the storied Hollywood studio.
By Nellie Andreeva, Peter White
MGM’s extensive film & TV catalogue, built over the past century, was the main driver behind Amazon’s $8.5B acquisition of the storied Hollywood studio. For the past year, since the deal closed in March 2022, Amazon Studios has been sifting through MGM’s library, identifying about a dozen initial titles for film and/or TV development, including Robocop, Stargate, Legally Blonde, Fame, Barbershop, The Magnificent Seven, Pink Panther and The Thomas Crown Affair.
We hear A-list creative auspices have reached out to inquire about adapting MGM IP which they are fans of. Additionally, Amazon Studios also has been leaning on its own roster of talent for some projects.
Each title is being approached differently — some are being steered toward film, some toward TV and some big ones are getting both movie and TV treatment.
For instance, Amazon Studios is in active early conversation on Legally Blonde, both for a movie and a potential TV series, sources said. There already had been on and off efforts to get a third Legally Blonde film off the ground for the past five years.
Amazon has similar plans for Stargate. We hear both film and TV installments are considered, with a movie likely going first.
Robocop also is being talked about for both film and TV, with a TV show possibly first, Deadline hears.
Additionally, Amazon Studios is actively developing TV series based on Fame, Barbershop and The Magnificent Seven, sources said.
There are also discussions about a Thomas Crown Affair movie as well as a Pink Panther movie, which could be animated, sources said. A Poltergeist project also is a possibility down the road, we hear.
Deadline already revealed plans for a Creed universe spanning film and TV, which Amazon Studios has been discussing with franchise star and filmmaker Michael B. Jordan. The studio also just made a first-look deal with Sylvester Stallone and his Balboa Productions for film and TV projects. we hear expanding the Rocky brand into television may be part of it.
There are currently no plans for other James Bond series beyond the unscripted competition series announced shortly after Amazon’s acquisition of MGM closed as the franchise producers are focused on figuring out the next film installment.
Identifying and developing MGM IP has been slow going so far. Some of that has been by design, as the new owners want to be thoughtful about the process given the great legacy of the titles involved.
Some of it has been by necessity given the complexity of some of the underlying rights (Rocky is just one example) that have been taking months to untangle.
The nearly 100-year-old studio has had multiple owners as well as financing partners for many of its best-known movies. This is also a studio that reportedly kept much of its archive hundreds of feet underground in an actual salt mine in Kansas that housed deleted scenes of movies such as 2001: A Space Odyssey and unmade scripts from the likes of Woody Allen, Samuel Beckett and even Stanley Kubrick’s infamous Napoleon script.
The job of sorting through the complexity of rights – who owns what and who else was originally involved – falls to Cynthia Waldman, who has spent more than 20 years combined at the company and is now Head of Library Rights in her fourth stint at MGM. One source told Deadline that it is Waldman’s job to act as an entertainment archeologist, helping producers figure out the intricacies of rights to projects that they are interested in adapting.
The Robocop sci-fi action franchise centers around the futuristic adventures of Alex Murphy, a Detroit, Michigan police officer, who is fatally wounded in the line of duty and transformed into a powerful cyborg, brand-named RoboCop. The first film, starring Peter Weller, premiered in 1987. It was followed by two sequels, Robocop 2 in 1990, Robocop 3 in 1993 and 2014’s Robocop, a remake of the 1987 film.
The Legally Blonde movie franchise is based on the novel Legally Blonde by Amanda Brown. The first film debuted in 2001, starring Reese Witherspoon as Harvard Law student Elle Woods. It was followed by sequel Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde in 2003 and 2009 direct-to-video spinoff Legally Blondes, which originated as a pilot for a potential series. Legally Blonde 3, co-written by Mindy Kaling and Dan Goor, has been in the works for several years.
The Stargate military sci-fi franchise, spanning film and TV, launched in 1994 with a movie directed by Roland Emmerich. It was followed by two more films, Stargate: The Ark of Truth in 2008 and Stargate: Continuum, also in 2008. In TV, Stargate SG-1 was one of the longest-running science-fiction series in U.S. television history. It was followed by Stargate Atlantis in 2004 and Stargate Universe in 2009, animated series Stargate Infinity in 2002 and web series Stargate Origins in 2018.
The Ice Cube-starring Barbershop franchise started with the 2002 movie, directed by Tim Story. It was followed by Barbershop 2: Back in Business in 2004 and Barbershop: The Next Cut in 2016. A spinoff, Beauty Shop, starring Queen Latifah, was released in 2005, along with a Barbershop TV series.
Fame, the 1980 musical film directed by Alan Parker, has spawned multiple TV series — scripted and unscripted — as well as a 2009 movie remake and a stage musical.
The 1960 United Artists Western The Magnificent Seven, a remake of Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai, has led to three sequels, a remake and a TV series.
The 1963 feature comedy The Pink Panther, which introduced inspector Jacques Clouseau, has been rebooted; the 1982 supernatural horror film Poltergeist has gotten sequels and remakes; and the 1968 The Thomas Crown Affair has had a remake.