Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Hollywood Babble On & On #398: Why MGM Must Live

Welcome to the show folks...

It's being reported that billionaire investor Carl Icahn, having been rebuffed from his take-over of mini-major Lionsgate, is buying up MGM bonds with a frenzy not unlike me at a book sale.

Now there are people criticizing this deal, saying that Icahn only wants to buy the studio as a gift for his son Brett who has an interest in the movie business.

Well I say: So what, as long as the company survives.

I've probably said this before during the whole Lionsgate battle that we know extremely little about Brett Icahn. All I know is that he's an Ivy League grad, that he runs a hedge fund for his father, and that he has a deep interest in the film business. I don't see him in the tabloid media hooking up or puking up with the other spawn of the rich and that tells me to give him the benefit of the doubt.

He's no less qualified than at least half the people running movie studios these days, and if he has some good ideas to save the company, and the balls to see them through, I wish him luck. In fact, I wish anyone willing to put MGM/UA back in business good vibes.

Now you're probably wondering why I'm so eager to see the Icahns, or anyone really, succeed in turning MGM/UA from a moribund holding company into a viable studio.

Well, the answer is simple.

MGM/UA needs to survive if the movie business is going to survive.

There's too much talk of this studio merging/buying/crushing that studio, and not enough talk about what the really need to be doing.

That's competing.

They're not acting like the hungry competitors they were in the Golden Age. Instead they act like a cozy cartel with no one willing to rock the boat for fear it might disrupt their merger/buyout plans or their ability to land a job at another studio when the one they work inevitably fires them.

What I'd like to see is MGM/UA given a new life, not as a cog in some consortium's holding tank, but as a vital, creative company, whose ownership is directly concerned with its success, and not how they can fiddle around the holdings so they can rack up more corporate debt for things that rarely involve the movie business.

Then, if it succeeds, it might shake the rest of the industry out of the creative doldrums that are currently sucking the life out of it. Sure, the box office may be good for certain films, and companies, but it's not translating in DVD or download sales, or in the sort of films that have perennial appeal to audiences.

There's nothing like a competitor kicking ass to get an industry off of theirs, and that's exactly what Hollywood needs right now.

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