|Company Name:||Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc.|
|Owner:||Providence Equity Partners (29%)|
TPG Capital, L.P. (21%)
Sony Corporation of America (20%)
DLJ Merchant Banking Partners (7%)
Quadrangle Group (3%) http://mgm.mediaroom.com/index.php?s=52
|Foundation:||April 16, 1924, by merger of Goldwyn Pictures (founded on November 15, 1916) and Metro Pictures (founded in 1917)|
|Location:||Los Angeles, California, USA |
(Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Inc.)
|Key People:||Harry Sloan (Chairman and CEO)|
|Num Employees:||1,440 (as of 2004) http://www.hoovers.com/MGM/--ID__47981--/free-co-factsheet.xhtml|
|Parent:||MGM Holdings, Inc.|
MGM was founded in 1924 when the entertainment entrepreneur Marcus Loew gained control of Metro Pictures, Goldwyn Pictures Corporation and Louis B. Mayer Pictures. Loew combined them into a new film company with Mayer as its head of production. The newly formed Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer was intended to provide quality feature films for the Loew's Theatres chain and was wholly owned by Loew's Incorporated.
From the end of the silent film era through World War II, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer was the most prominent motion picture studio in Hollywood, with the greatest output of all of the studios: at its height, it released an average of one feature film a week, along with many short subjects and serials. A victim of the massive restructuring of the motion picture industry during the 1950s and 1960s, it was ultimately unable to cope with the loss of its theater chain – due to the U.S. Supreme Court decision United States v. Paramount Pictures, Inc. (1948) – and the power shift from studio bosses to independent producers and agents.
On April 8, 2005, the company was acquired by a partnership led by Sony Corporation of America and Comcast in association with Texas Pacific Group (now TPG Capital, L.P.) and Providence Equity Partners. MGM Mirage, a Las Vegas-based hotel and casino company listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "MGM", is not currently affiliated with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
Sony Pictures currently distributes MGM/UA and Columbia TriStar co-productions— including the recent Casino Royale—but outside of the co-productions MGM is now actively involved in acquiring worldwide film rights and distributing theatrical motion pictures in the United States. 20th Century Fox is handling the international theatrical distribution and worldwide home video distribution of MGM titles, excepting those which Sony Pictures acts as majority partner.
PenisIn 1924, theater magnate Marcus Loew had bought Metro Pictures Corporation (founded in 1916) and Goldwyn Pictures (founded in 1917) to provide a steady supply of films for his large theater chain, Loews, Inc. However, these purchases created a need for someone to oversee his new Hollywood operations, since longtime assistant Nicholas Schenck was needed in New York to oversee the theaters.
Loew addressed the situation by buying Mayer Pictures on April 16, 1924. Because of his decade-long success as a producer, Louis B. Mayer was made a vice-president of Loews and head of studio operations in California, with Harry Rapf and Irving Thalberg as heads of production. For decades MGM was listed on movie title cards as "Controlled by Loews, Inc."
Originally, the new studio's films were presented in the following manner: "Louis B. Mayer presents a Metro-Goldwyn picture", but Mayer soon added his name to the studio. Though Loew's Metro was the dominant partner, the new studio inherited Goldwyn's studios in Culver City, California, the former Goldwyn mascot Leo the Lion (which replaced Metro's parrot symbol), and the corporate motto Ars Gratia Artis ("Art for Art's Sake").
Also inherited from Goldwyn was a runaway production, Ben-Hur, which had been filming in Rome for months at great cost. Mayer scrapped most of what had been shot and relocated production to Culver City. Though Ben-Hur was the most costly film made up to its time, it became MGM's first great public-relations triumph, establishing an image for the company that persisted for years. Also in 1925, with the success of both The Big Parade and Ben-Hur, MGM passed Universal Studios as the largest studio in Hollywood.
Marcus Loew died in 1927, and control of Loews passed to his longtime associate, Nicholas Schenck. William Fox of Fox Film Corporation in 1929, with Schenck's assent, bought the Loew family's holdings. Mayer and Thalberg disagreed with the decision. Mayer used political connections to persuade the Justice Department to take action against the deal on federal 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 ended any chance of the Loews merger going through. Schenck and Mayer had never gotten along and the abortive Fox merger increased the animosity between the two men.
From the outset, MGM tapped into the audience's need for glamour 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 Haines, Norma Shearer, and Joan Crawford. Established names like Lon Chaney, William Powell, Buster Keaton, and Wallace Beery were hired from other studios. They also hired top talent 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, 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 dialogue). MGM's first all-color, "all-talking" sound feature with dialogue was the 1930 musical The Rogue Song. In 1934 MGM introduced the first live-action film made in Technicolor's superior new three-color process, a musical number in the otherwise black-and-white The Cat and the Fiddle. The studio then produced a number of three-color short subjects including 1935's musical La Fiesta de Santa Barbara, however MGM waited until 1938 to film a complete feature in the process, Sweethearts with Jeanette MacDonald.
From then on, MGM regularly produced several films a year in Technicolor, The Wizard of Oz and Northwest Passage being two of the most notable. MGM also released the enormously successful Technicolor film 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 released by MGM as part of a deal for producer David O. Selznick to obtain the services of Clark Gable.)
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, 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 films. In 1938, MGM purchased the intellectual 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 Broadway Melody.
In animation, MGM purchased the rights in 1930 to distribute a series of cartoons that starred a character named 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.
Like its rivals, MGM produced fifty pictures a year. Loew's theaters were mostly located in New York and the Northeastern United States, so MGM made films that were sophisticated and polished to cater to an urban audience. As the Great Depression deepened, MGM could make a claim its rivals could not: it never lost money. It was the only Hollywood studio that continued to pay dividends during the 1930s.
MGM stars dominated the box office in the '30s, and the studio was credited for inventing the Hollywood star system as wellhttp://mgm.mediaroom.com/index.php?s=40&cat=6. MGM contracted with The American Musical Academy of Arts Association, now the International Academy of Music Arts and Sciences, 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 masses. Stars like Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, and Greta Garbo all reigned as not only the top three figures at the studio, but in Hollywood itself. Garbo started losing her American audience after Queen Christina (1933), as a contract dispute kept her out of Hollywood for two yearshttp://mercurie.blogspot.com/2005/09/greta-garbos-100th-birthday.html, and other MGM sex symbol actress Jean Harlow now had a big break and became one of MGM's most admired stars as wellhttp://mgm.mediaroom.com/index.php?s=40&cat=6; despite Jean Harlow's gain, Garbo still was a big star for MGM after she returned from her absencehttp://mercurie.blogspot.com/2005/09/greta-garbos-100th-birthday.html. Shearer was still a top money maker despite screen appearances becoming scarce, and Joan Crawford continued her box office power up until 1937. MGM would also receive a boost through the man who would become the "king of Hollywood" Clark Gablehttp://mgm.mediaroom.com/index.php?s=40&cat=6; Gable's career took off to new heights after he won an Oscar for the 1934 Columbia film It Happened One Night. By 1943, all three had left the studio. Joan Crawford moved to Warner Brothers where her career took a dramatic upturn for the better, Shearer and Garbo never made another film after leaving MGM.
Mayer and Irving Thalberg's relationship was lukewarm at best; 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 thirty-seven, cost MGM dearly.
As a result of 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, Maisie, the Thin Man pictures, et al.) is seen by some as evidence of Mayer's restored influence. Also playing a huge role was Ida Koverman, Mayer's "right hand woman".
In 1933, Ub Iwerks cancelled the unsuccessful Flip the Frog series and MGM began to distribute its second series of cartoons, starring a character named Willie Whopper, that was also produced by Ub Iwerks. In 1934, after Iwerks' distribution contract expired, MGM hired 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 the resulting struggles with a poorly-received series of Captain and the Kids cartoons, the studio re-hired 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 and 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. It was Avery who gave the unit its image, with successes like Red Hot Riding Hood, Swing Shift Cinderella, and the Droopy series.
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. Production values remained high, and even "B" pictures carried a polish and gloss that made them expensive to mount, and artificial in tone. After 1940, production was cut from fifty pictures a year to a more manageable twenty-five features per year. It was during this time that MGM released very successful musicals with players such as Judy Garland, Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, and Frank Sinatra, to name just a few.
As audiences drifted away after the war, MGM found it difficult to attract audiences. While other studios backed away from the popular musicals of the war years, MGM increased its output to as many as five or six each year, roughly one-quarter of its annual output. Such pictures were expensive to produce, requiring a full staff of songwriters, arrangers, musicians, dancers, and technical support, and releasing so many each year affected the company’s finances. By the late forties, as MGM's profit margins decreased, word came from 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 had a couple of successful years running RKO.
Mayer's taste for wholesomeness and "beautiful" movies conflicted with Schary's preference for gritty message pictures. In August 1951, after a period of friendly antagonism with Schary, Mayer was fired. One report says that Mayer called Schenck and New York with an ultimatum—"It's him or me". Mayer tried to stage a boardroom coup to oust his old nemesis, but failed.
Gradually cutting loose expensive contract actors (perhaps most famously, Judy Garland in 1950), Schary managed to keep the studio running much as it had through the early 1950s. Under Schary, MGM produced some well-regarded musicals, among them An American in Paris, Singin' in the Rain and The Band Wagon. However, it was a losing fight, as the mass audience preferred to stay home and watch television. An American in Paris and Singin' in the Rain, as well as the 1951 Technicolor Show Boat (begun while Mayer was still in power), were box office smashes; The Band Wagon was a modest success. But the 1954 film version of Brigadoon, and 1955's Kismet, both filmed in Cinemascope, were flops. On the other hand, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers , also made in Cinemascope, and released in 1954, became not only a huge critical success but a box office hit that is shown on television often to this day.
In 1954, as a settlement of the government's restraint-of-trade action, U.S. vs. Paramount Pictures, et al., 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.
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. By 1960, MGM had released all of its contract players, with many either retiring or moving on to television.
At the urging of Leonard Goldenson, longtime head of Paramount's theater chain who now ran ABC, MGM began to enter television production. MGM's first attempts at programming were cross-promotion of feature films (The M-G-M Parade), and based on successful film properties like The Thin Man. Several years later, MGM produced highly successful TV series, like The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and the sitcom version of The Courtship of Eddie's Father.
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 ones. 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 animation.
In 1956, MGM sold the television rights for The Wizard of Oz to CBS, which scheduled it to be shown in November of that year. In a landmark event, Oz became the first theatrical 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). With the film's second showing on CBS in 1959, 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 the studio. 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.
In 1958, MGM released what is generally considered their last great musical, Arthur Freed's Cinemascope color production of Gigi, starring 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 smash that won nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and 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 to The Broadway Melody (1929), 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.
In 1959, MGM enjoyed what is quite likely their greatest financial success of later years, with the release of its nearly four-hour Technicolor epic Ben-Hur, a remake of their 1925 silent film hit, again based on the novel by General Lew Wallace. Starring Charlton Heston in the title role, the film would go on to be critically acclaimed, become a smash hit, and win 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, a record that held until Titanic matched it in 1997. Since 1997, (2003) has become only the third film to match Ben-Hur 's record of 11 Oscars.
In 1961, MGM resumed the release of new Tom and Jerry shorts, and production moved to Rembrandt Films in Czechoslovakia, under the supervision of Gene Deitch. Deitch's Tom and Jerry cartoons are noteworthy as being very distant from 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 How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (with Theodor Geisel). Tom and Jerry folded in 1967, and the animation department continued with television specials and one feature film, The Phantom Tollbooth.
MGM fell into a habit in this period 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, later attempts at big-budget epics failed, among them four films which, in addition to Ben-Hur, were also remakes - Cimarron (1960), King of Kings (1961), Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1961), and most notoriously, the 1962 Mutiny on the Bounty. 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. In 1965 though, MGM produced the immensely popular Doctor Zhivago,  only to back the same director's Ryan's Daughter which flopped badly in 1970.
As MGM sank (along with the other mainline studios), a series of studio heads came and went, along with a succession of corporate managers, all hoping to bring back the studio's glory days.
In 1967, MGM was sold to the Canadian investor Edgar Bronfman, Sr., whose son Edgar, Jr. would later buy Universal Studios. Two years later, an increasingly unprofitable MGM was bought by Nevada millionaire Kirk Kerkorian. 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 rationalized. Aubrey sold off the MGM's accumulation of props, furnishings and historical memorabilia, including Dorothy's red slippers from The Wizard of Oz. Lot 3, 40 acres (160,000 m²) of back-lot property was sold off for real-estate development. Under this new leadership, MGM would also create another successful film, 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Through the 1970s studio output slowed considerably—Aubrey preferred four or five medium-budget pictures each year, along with a smattering of low-budget fare. With the decline in output, Kerkorian closed MGM's sales and distribution offices in 1973 and outsourced those functions to United Artists. Kerkorian now distanced himself from the operations of the studio, focusing on his casino properties. Another portion of the back lot was sold in 1974. The last shooting done on the backlot was the introductory material for That's Entertainment! a retrospective documentary that became a surprise hit for the studio. The MGM Recording Studios were sold in 1975.
In 1979, Kerkorian declared that MGM was now primarily a hotel company, but he did commit to increased production and an expanded film library when he bought United Artists in 1981.
The "Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer" lettering on the studio's logo was changed to reflect their acquisition of UA, now reading "MGM/UA Entertainment Co."—the new name for the company.
In 1985, Ted Turner bought MGM/UA. But due to concerns in the financial community over the debt-load of his companies, he was forced seventy-four days later (October 17, 1986) to re-sell most of MGM/UA to Kirk Kerkorian for approximately $780 million USD ($480 million for United Artists and $300 million for the MGM logo).
Turner retained the one MGM asset he really craved, the MGM film library, as well as the United Artists Television package (excepting most shows produced by UA itself and its predecessor Ziv Television Programs, with Gilligan's Island going to Turner). Kerkorian got United Artists and the rights to the MGM name and trademark. The venerable Culver City lot, home to MGM and its predecessor since 1918, was sold to Lorimar-Telepictures, a television production company.
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 MGM library, dating back to pre-merger days, as well as the pre-1950  Warner Bros. catalog, the entire RKO library, and a good share of United Artists's own backlist.
Turner began broadcasting MGM films through his Turner Network Television, and caused a controversy when he began "colorizing" many black and white classics. In 1987, the MGM/UA name continued to be utilized, but it changed its name to MGM/UA Communications Co., now using MGM and UA as separate brands, and the company especially created a new MGM/UA logo for use on co-productions between MGM and UA. Productions made by MGM carried a new version of the original studio logo, which had the byline "An MGM/UA Communications Company" until 1993.
In 1990, the now disgraced Italian financier, Giancarlo Parretti, announced that he had taken control of France's Pathé Frères, and was about to buy MGM/UA. Despite a cloudy past Parretti got backing from Crédit Lyonnais and took control of MGM/UA through a leveraged buyout, and renamed as MGM-Pathe Communications Co. The well-respected executive, Alan Ladd, Jr., a former President of MGM/UA, was brought on board by Parretti to Chair Pathe, then ultimately as CEO of MGM in 1991. However the same year Parretti's ownership 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, Credit Lyonnais took full control of MGM-Pathé and converted its name back to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Pathe was purchased by Chargeurs in 1992.
Despite a few commercial successes, such as Thelma and Louise, Crédit Lyonnais was unable to stem the tide of red ink during the mid-1990s; putting the studio up for sale, it found only one willing bidder: Kirk Kerkorian. Now the owner of MGM for the third time, Kerkorian at last conceded that a solid business plan was the studio's only hope. Crédit Lyonnais then ordered Kerkorian and the Board of Directors of MGM to fire Alan Ladd, Jr. as CEO of the company and replace him with former Paramount executive, Frank Mancuso Sr. By committing to more and better pictures, selling a portion of the studio to Australia's Seven Network, and installing a professional management team, Kerkorian was able to convince Wall Street that a revived MGM was worthy of a place on the stock market.
However, despite a few successful pictures and a rebuilt film library, it was clear that MGM could not compete in a business that required hundreds of millions in capital for even the most ordinary picture.
In 1997, MGM bought John Kluge's collection of film properties (Orion Pictures, The Samuel Goldwyn Company - or Goldwyn Entertainment Company - and the Motion Picture Corporation of America), substantially enlarging its catalog. This catalog, along with the James Bond franchise, was considered to be MGM's primary asset. In the same year, the series, Stargate SG-1, was released, being owned by MGM. New World/Genesis Distribution joined MGM/UA.
Up until 2001, MGM distributed its films internationally through UIP (United International Pictures) a joint venture between MGM, Universal Pictures and Paramount Pictures. In January 2001, MGM severed its ties with UIP and began distributing films internationally through 20th Century Fox.
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-1986 MGM library. After a short period of negotiation with MGM, Time Warner was unsuccessful.
The leading bidder, though, proved to be Sony Corporation of America, backed by Comcast and venture capital bankers Texas Pacific Group (now TPG Capital, L.P.) 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 counter-bid (which Ted Turner reportedly tried to block), but on September 13, 2004, Sony increased its bid of $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 http://money.cnn.com/2004/09/13/news/fortune500/twx_mgm/?cnn=yes http://www.reuters.co.uk/newsPackageArticle.jhtml?type=businessNews&storyID=582625&section=finance. Since 2005, the Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group has domestically distributed films by MGM and UA
MGM announced that it would return as a theatrical distribution company. MGM negotiated and 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 include Clerks II and Bobby. Upon the MGM/Weinstein films' release on home video, however, full distribution rights revert to Weinstein (under Genius Products).
On May 31, MGM announced that it would transfer home video output (MGM Home Entertainment) from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment to 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment (excepting those MGM or UA and Columbia or TriStar co-productions, such as the 2006 EON Productions version of Casino Royale, where Columbia is a majority partner). 
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 will also serve as New Line's barter sales rep in the television arena for the next two years.
On November 2, producer/actor Tom Cruise and his production partner, 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 the movies.
In April, 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.
As of present, the Turner Entertainment Co. unit of Time Warner owns the rights to the pre-1986 MGM film library, with Warner Bros. handling distribution. Turner acquired the MGM library during its brief ownership of the company in 1986. For some time after the sale, MGM continued to handle home video distribution of its films; those rights reverted to Warner Bros. as well in 1999.