Amazon to buy MGM studio for $A10.9B

·2-min read

Online shopping giant Amazon is buying MGM, the movie and TV studio behind James Bond, with the hopes of filling its video streaming service with more stuff to watch.

Amazon is paying $US8.45 billion ($A10.9 billion) for MGM, making it the company's second-largest acquisition after it bought grocer Whole Foods for nearly $US14 billion ($A18 billion) in 2017.

The deal is the latest in the media industry that's aimed at boosting streaming services to compete against Netflix and Disney+. AT&T and Discovery announced last week that they would combine media companies, creating a powerhouse that includes HGTV, CNN, Food Network and HBO.

Amazon said Wednesday that it would use MGM's vast library, which includes famous characters such as Rocky, RoboCop and Pink Panther, to create new movies and shows.

"It's going to be a lot of fun work," said Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, during the company's shareholder meeting on Wednesday.

"People who love stories are going to be the big beneficiaries."

Known for its roaring lion logo, MGM is one of the oldest studios in Hollywood, founded in 1924 when films were still silent. But its shine has faded considerably over the years. In the mid-1980s, it sold much of its pre-1948 catalogue, including The Wizard Of Oz and Gone With The Wind, which is now owned by Warner Bros. And its sprawling California lot was bought by Sony.

For much of the past decade, MGM juggled bankruptcy and a revolving door of owners while its new releases dwindled. Long up for sale, MGM's desirability was lessened, not just because of its partially auctioned-off library, but because its prized property - James Bond - isn't owned outright.

Amazon already has its own studio, but has had mixed results. Two of its shows, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and Fleabag, won best comedy series Emmys. Although it has won several Oscars, including most recently for Sound of Metal, many of its films have failed to click with audiences at the box office.

Seattle-based Amazon.com Inc. declined to say when it expects the deal to be finalised. But when it does, it will make Amazon, already one of the most powerful and valuable companies in the world, even bigger.

Regulators around the world are scrutinising Amazon's business practices, specifically the way it looks at information from businesses that sell goods on its site and uses it to create its own Amazon-branded products.

Amazon, founded in 1995 as an online bookstore, has become a $US1.6 trillion ($A2.1 trillion) behemoth that does a little bit of everything.

It has a delivery business network that gets orders to people in two days or sooner; sells inhalers and insulin; has a cloud-computing business that powers the apps of Netflix and McDonald's; and it has plans to send more than 3200 satellites into space to beam internet service to Earth.