Spider-Man, meet James Bond. That’s what will happen as a result of Sony’s purchase of MGM, announced Monday. The deal has Sony and its financial partners buying the venerable Hollywood studio – and its library and franchises – for $5 billion. The buyout will give Sony the largest back catalog of movies in the world, combining the libraries of MGM (home to the Bond, Rocky, and Pink Panther franchises) and Columbia (the studio behind Spider-Man).
The deal marks the third time that 87-year-old billionaire Kirk Kerkorian, MGM’s majority owner, has bought and sold the studio over the last 35 years. Sony had been vying with Time Warner (parent company of EW.com) in the bidding for the 80-year-old studio, with Time Warner ultimately balking at MGM’s asking price. Sony and its partners agreed to pay about $3 billion in cash and $2 billion in assumed debt for MGM, whose library of 4,100 movies may be more valuable than its development slate, whose only certain cash cow is the Bond franchise. Combined with its own library of 3,500 movies, the acquisition of MGM’s back catalog will give Sony a film library that accounts for about 40 percent of all Hollywood films ever made. That library means remake and sequel rights, cable subscriptions and video-on-demand purchases for new Sony partner Comcast (the nation’s largest cable operator), DVD sales, and TV and DVD player sales for Sony’s electronics division. Let’s just hope it doesn’t mean a literal meeting of Spidey and 007, Alien vs. Predator-style.