STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
For about $8.5 billion, Amazon has acquired this...
(SOUNDBITE OF MGM LION ROARING)
INSKEEP: The roaring lion of MGM is the symbol of a Hollywood studio with an enormous library of films and TV, ranging from "Singin' In The Rain" to the Bond films.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As James Bond) Bond, James Bond.
INSKEEP: We're now going to discuss this with a very important correspondent, and perhaps we should let you introduce yourself, correspondent.
MANDALIT DEL BARCO, BYLINE: Del Barco, Mandalit del Barco.
INSKEEP: OK, good. (Laughter) Well, thank you very much.
DEL BARCO: (Laughter).
INSKEEP: So what's this deal about?
DEL BARCO: Well, you know, Amazon needs to compete with the likes of Disney, which had a really successful launch of its streaming platform, Disney+, and also Netflix, which continues to spend billions of dollars every year producing original content for its streaming platform. So an easy way for Amazon to grow is to buy, to acquire.
DEL BARCO: So, you know, Amazon reportedly spent $11 billion last year, in 2020, on buying movies, TV shows and music for Amazon Prime. So you can see how important their content is to their service. Amazon also includes a streaming site, Twitch, Audible and Amazon Studios. They have all the groceries, books and all that other stuff that we've been buying during the pandemic, and now they have this storied Hollywood movie studio, too.
INSKEEP: I'm glad you point out storied because this is a studio that's been around for generations, and there must be generations' worth of films in the vault.
DEL BARCO: That's right. Well, you know, MGM is very historic, as you know, and its studio has a library with over 4,000 films. They have everything from "Singin' In The Rain" to "Silence Of The Lambs" to "Poltergeist," "RoboCop" and "Rocky." And big films that are coming out that will now be under the Amazon banner include "House Of Gucci," "Respect," the Aretha Franklin movie, and "No Time To Die," the next James Bond movie. But - and that big star in the library, of course, is 007. It's not clear if the family that runs the - controls the 007 franchise is going to give that up, but we'll see what happens with that.
INSKEEP: So that I understand the economics, is it as simple as this? Amazon Prime is paying people to put movies on Amazon Prime, and now it doesn't have to pay for these 4,000 films; Amazon is going to pay itself.
DEL BARCO: Yes, that's right. You know, MGM has a television catalog, too, and that includes 17,000 TV shows. Among the most popular is "The Handmaid's Tale," "Fargo" and "Vikings." And television has gotten really competitive this last year with so many deals happening, especially in the last few weeks with AT&T spinning off Warner Media and merging with Discovery.
INSKEEP: Is this, then, a larger trend? Studios, like so many media companies - media companies in general just feel they have to be bigger and bigger to compete with competitors that are bigger and bigger.
DEL BARCO: That's right. I mean, like I mentioned, you know, Disney+, Netflix, the streaming sites are very, very big players in Hollywood now. So, you know, here's Amazon coming in, and they're going to get this huge library. MGM is 97 years old, the studio. It's collectively won more than 180 Academy Awards, 100 Emmys.
INSKEEP: Got to stop you there. Mandalit, go have a drink - shaken, not stirred. Thank you very much.
DEL BARCO: (Laughter) Thanks.
INSKEEP: NPR's Mandalit del Barco.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.