The world's richest man is set on becoming a 'player' as he makes a $10 billion swoop for MGM.
Over recent years Jeff Bezos has gradually morphed from an awkward bookshop geek into a slick Hollywood, proving that money really can buy you anything. In entertainment industry parlance, Amazon’s online shopping tycoon is determined to be a 'player'.
He’s launched a studio, blown $165m (£116m) on David Geffen’s nine-acre Beverly Hills mansion, acquired The Washington Post, and was name-checked at last year’s Oscars, when host Chris Rock joked that the planet’s richest man was so rich that “when he writes a cheque, the bank bounces”. Bezos has even got himself a helicopter-flying new girlfriend after the world’s most expensive divorce.
And yet Bezos still isn’t satisfied. A $10bn takeover of MGM, the film studio behind the James Bond franchise, isn’t just his biggest splash in media-land, it might be the tycoon’s most daring mission yet.
A deal would hand Amazon’s Prime streaming service access to a vast library of films beyond just the 007 franchise, including lots of old classics and other iconic titles like the Rocky series and Silence of the Lambs. The famous studio also makes popular series such as The Handmaid’s Tale and Fargo.
It’s the latest salvo in the home entertainment wars as viewers turn away from traditional broadcasters towards digital and alternative content in increasing numbers.
On Monday telecoms giant AT&T agreed to a $130bn merger of its Warner Media arm with Discovery, thus creating another new streaming bohemoth to compete with Netflix, Disney, and Amazon.
A $10bn takeover of one of the world’s most illustrious film studios should silence those that doubt how serious Bezos is about competing. Regulators will certainly scrutinise the tie-up, though Amazon’s status as a tech company rather than a true media house may help it to squeeze through. And Netflix and Apple may feel compelled to respond by hitting the acquisition trail or lodging competing bids.
It's all very good news for those of us who enjoy sitting at home watching movies!