TVBizwire

MGM 'Not Toxic Anymore'; How the Company Turned It Around -- and Which New TV and Feature Projects Are on the Way NY Times

For much of the past decade, “Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer has been troubled by financial turmoil and infuriating production stops and starts, including a debacle in which Tom Cruise helped run its United Artists label,” The New York Times reports.

That scenario might finally be changing, especially after “Skyfall,” starring Daniel Craig as James Bond, took in $1.1 billion.

Shares of MGM Holdings’ thinly traded over-the-counter stock have risen 50 percent since April, to about $58.50, the story says. “Revenue almost tripled in the last quarter, to $339 million, according to the company. Helped by repeated Standard & Poor’s upgrades over the last three years, MGM now has access to revolving lines of credit totaling $750 million.”

Kevin Ulrich, co-founder of Anchorage Capital Group, a New York investment firm that is MGM’s largest single owner, with a 30 percent stake, said: “The company was on death’s doorstep and now has effectively no debt and is generating a ton of cash. That’s an outstanding turnaround.”

Most important, new movies are flowing from the studio. “A remake of ‘Carrie’ arrives on Oct. 18, while the blockbuster ‘Hobbit’ series returns in December," the story reports. "‘RoboCop,’ ‘22 Jump Street’ and ‘Hercules’ come next year. MGM’s James Bond franchise returns in 2015 and remakes of ‘Ben-Hur’ and ‘Poltergeist’ are in the works.”

MGM’s television business, “a vital part of its growth strategy, is also showing momentum,” the story says. "‘Vikings’ had its debut on the History channel and was an instant hit. ‘Teen Wolf’ continues on MTV, while 'Paternity Court' arrives in syndication on Sept. 23 and a series adapted from 'Fargo' chugs toward FX.”

“The MGM name had become pretty toxic, both in the financial community and the creative one, and that’s certainly not the case anymore,” Gary Barber, MGM’s chief executive, said last week in a wide-ranging interview. He added, “I feel that MGM is fully rehabilitated.”

But MGM has “blown the comeback trumpets before only to have its owners cash out and leave the studio reeling anew,” the report notes. “The billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian, for instance, bought and sold the studio three times between 1969 and 2005. By that measure, the studio’s long-term future is far from clear.”