The Evolving Film Industry

Started by wilder, April 28, 2020, 09:57:53 AM

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Quote from: Drenk on December 22, 2020, 09:07:41 AM
Amazon was my first guess. Jeff Bezos made more than five billions since the tweet was posted. They're also the worst streaming service: I'm sorry, but I can only think of packages when I see the Amazon logo. Or a warehouse...

Quote from: wilberfan on December 10, 2020, 04:02:00 PM
Interesting conversation with Jason Kilar (CEO of Warner Media)--the guy that pulled the trigger on this new exhibition model for WB.

In this conversation, Kilar uses a rhetoric against that service as some sort of consumer distinction that affects content (so they say)
(23min ish, Kara kinda walks jason into it)
"For them (Amazon and Apple TV) it's not existential to be great at storytelling --- nobody's staying up late at night worrying about what happens if their pipeline of movies and television doesn't resonate"


that's a fun use of existential and resonate


Quote from: jenkins on December 22, 2020, 11:32:50 AM
that's a fun use of existential and resonate

Corp AI generated romanticism broadcast straight outta the WB tower ~


the human condition is like my favorite topic ever but whenever it's talked about in terms of audience appeal i feel gross


DGA Sides With Writers Guild In Its Dispute With WME Over Endeavor Content
Januar 12, 2021

The Directors Guild has sided with the Writers Guild in the WGA's ongoing legal battle with WME over the agency's ownership interest in its affiliated production entity – Endeavor Content. In a letter obtained by Deadline (read it below), DGA national executive director Russell Hollander told WME president Ari Greenburg that the DGA has "been closely following the negotiations and litigation and believe now is the right time to communicate our strong support for the WGA's efforts to remedy the affiliated production company issue."

In his letter dated December 31, Hollander also told Greenburg: "This continued conflict of interest is not acceptable to the DGA. Absent prompt resolution, we intend to take all necessary and appropriate steps to protect our members."

The DGA declined comment.

Here's the full text of Hollander's letter:

QuoteDear Ari,

The issue of talent agencies owning production entities is, and always has been, an issue of great concern to the DGA. While we have not commented publicly on these concerns, we have raised them on numerous occasions with representatives from WME and Endeavor Content. As discussions between WME and the Writers Guild of America have reached a critical point, it is time for us to make our position clear.

The issue of avoiding conflicts of interest is exceedingly important to the DGA and our members. Affiliated ownership carries with it inherent and obvious conflicts of interest. Agents should be free and unencumbered to carry out their duties to their Director clients with only the Directors' interests in mind and should procure work for Directors without the incentive to make cost-effective deals with production companies owned by the same parent company as their agency.

We are aware that the issue of conflicts of interest arising from affiliated production ownership remains the last outstanding issue preventing a resolution between the WGA and WME. We have been closely following the negotiations and litigation and believe now is the right time to communicate our strong support for the WGA's efforts to remedy the affiliated production company issue. We share their concerns and urge WME to resolve this issue with the WGA in a manner that will enable talent agents to satisfy their fiduciary duty to their clients free of conflicts of interest.

This continued conflict of interest is not acceptable to the DGA. Absent prompt resolution, we intend to take all necessary and appropriate steps to protect our members.


Russell Hollander
National Executive Director

WME is the only major talent agency that has yet to sign the WGA's franchise agreement, and reducing WME's ownership stake in Endeavor Content to just 20% is one of the last remaining issues holding up an agreement. The WGA also wants WME and its private-equity owners, Silver Lake Partners, to agree to the same terms as CAA and its private-equity owner did last month when they signed the guild's franchise agreement.

The day before Hollander sent the letter, a federal judge denied WME's request for a preliminary injunction that would have ended the WGA's boycott of the agency until the antitrust case can go to trial. It was a major legal victory for the WGA and adds pressure on WME to settle the 21-month dispute and sign the WGA's franchise agreement, as have all the other major talent agencies.

WME has said that it wants to reach a deal with the WGA and offered a proposal last month that it hoped the WGA would accept, saying, "We want to find a way forward with the Guild and return to representing our writer-clients." The WGA, however, rejected that offer, saying that "WME has yet to grapple, in a serious way, with its own conflicts of interest."

The WGA's battle to reshape the talent agency business began in April 2018, when it notified the Association of Talent Agents of its intent to renegotiate its Artists' Manager Basic Agreement, and a year later, writers voted overwhelmingly to terminate the AMBA and all unfranchised agencies. Since then, the WGA has negotiated 10 successive versions of its franchise agreement to accommodate reasonable agency proposals – beginning in May 2019, when it signed Verve; again last summer, when it signed UTA and ICM, and last month when it signed CAA.

The DGA last weighed into the dispute between the WGA and the talent agencies in April 2019 – just days after the WGA told its members to fire their agents who refused to sign its new Agency Code of Conduct, modified versions of which will now phase out packaging fees by 2022 and sharply limit their corporate affiliations with related production companies.

At that time, the DGA told its hyphenate members that they didn't have to fire their agents for DGA-covered work even if they were also writers who were being told by the WGA that they must fire their agents who refuse to sign its Code of Conduct. "There are important issues that we are examining in the context of the DGA agency agreement," the DGA said back then. "As our franchise agreement is currently in effect, we are not instructing hyphenate members to terminate their agents with respect to DGA-covered services at the present time."


WME Signs WGA Franchise Agreement, Giving Guild Historic Win In Campaign To Reshape Talent Agency Business

UPDATED with statements and WGA West letter to members: The WGA has won its historic campaign to reshape the talent agency business, signing WME – the last agency holdout – to its franchise agreement today. All the major agencies now have signed the agreement, which will return them to a 10% commissioning business model not seen in decades.

The sides also agreed today to drop their antitrust lawsuits against each other "in consideration of a negotiated settlement executed by them."

"WME and the WGA have agreed to a new franchise deal that addresses writers' core concerns while recognizing the unique aspects of our business," Endeavor CEO Ariel Emanuel said in a statement. "Writers have been a part of this agency since our inception, and they will continue to be a part of the lifeblood of WME. We look forward to once again serving as their advocates during this unprecedented time in our industry."

WGA West President David A. Goodman issued this statement:

Quote"I've said repeatedly no one wanted the agency campaign over more than me, and I'm very pleased that we've achieved our goal: the agencies who represent us now have their financial interests aligned with their writer clients, and the agencies problematic business practices such as packaging fees and agency-owned production entities are at an end.  As difficult as this battle was, the simple and just clarity of the goal, that a writer's agent should make more only when his client does, is what helped us succeed.

I could not be more grateful to the negotiating committee, elected leaders and staff whose commitment and tireless work over the last three years won the day.  But, as with all the successes in the WGA's history, such as our pension and health benefits, our residuals in perpetuity, and our jurisdiction over the Internet, this achievement is owed to the members, who understood what we were fighting for, and were willing to make personal sacrifices for the greater good.  I'm proud and lucky to be one of them."

The WGAW sent a letter to its membership today that outlines the deal; read it in full below.

Today's agreement allows WME's writer-clients to return to the agency for the first time since April 2019, when the WGA East and West ordered their members to fire their agents who refused to sign the guilds' Code of Conduct, modified versions of which will now phase out packaging fees by 2022 and limit the agencies' ownership interests in affiliated production companies to just 20%. WME was the last of the major agencies to sign the WGA's agreement, in part, because it has the most tangled corporate structure, and its production-distribution affiliate – Endeavor Content – has the most projects currently in production and development – more than 300.

WME's signing will also end its long-running legal battle with the guild, with both sides agreeing to dismiss their anti-trust lawsuits against one another – a fight that's been going on for nearly two years. The WGA dropped its lawsuit against UTA when it signed the franchise agreement last July, and against CAA when it signed in December.

The WGA has long maintained that packaging, in which agencies bring together many of the creative elements of a show – and agency affiliations with related production and distribution companies – create a conflict of interest for the agencies, giving them an incentive to low-ball writers on projects in which the agencies have a financial interest. The guild claimed that the packaging fees paid by the studios to the agencies were a violation of state and federal labor law because they amounted to "illegal kickbacks" from an employer to an employee representative. The guild also argued that agency affiliations with corporately related production companies made the agencies, in effect, both their clients' representatives and employers.

The WGA's victory could also normalize relations between the guild and the Association of Talent Agents, the bargaining representative of more than 100 agencies, including all the major ones. The dispute began on April 6, 2018, when the WGA sent the ATA a 12-month notice to terminate their Artists' Manager Basic Agreement of 1976 (AMBA), which regulated talent agency representation of writers. The WGA then made proposals to the ATA for a new AMBA agreement that would eliminate agency conflicts of interest, but the two sides were unable to reach a deal, and on June 19, 2019, the guild announced that it would no longer negotiate with the ATA, and would instead negotiate with individual agencies.

One by one, the agencies began to fall, signing the WGA's code of conduct – slowly at first, but then in a steady stream after more than 7,000 WGA members fired their agents in April 2019. Verve, which was not an ATA member, became the first mid-sized agency to sign in May of that year, followed by a succession of ATA member-agencies: Kaplan Stahler and Buchwald in July of 2019; the Gersh Agency and the Agency for the Performing Arts signed in January 2020; Paradigm signed last March; UTA in July; ICM Partners in August, and CAA in December. And now WME.

Labor disputes come and go, and even strikes end eventually, but curbing the major agencies' conflicts of interest will have a lasting and profound impact not only on writers and their agents, but on the industry as a whole.

The WGA West's "Two Davids" – executive director David Young and president David A. Goodman – deserve much of the credit for the guild's victory over the agency Goliaths, but they, no doubt, would be the first to share the credit with the WGA's 24-member Agency Negotiating Committee, which was co-chaired by Chris Keyser, David Shore and Meredith Stiehm. Their conquest of the agencies would not have been possible, however, without the unwavering support of the membership of the WGA West and East, more than 7,000 of whom fired their agents in the first shots of the battle back in April of 2019.

History will also record that seven writers – David Simon, Meredith Stiehm, Patricia Carr, Ashley Gable, Barbara Hall, Deric A. Hughes and Deirdre Mangan – led the charge as the named plaintiffs in the long-running court battle, which was ably waged by WGA West general counsel Tony Segall and a team of attorneys that included P. Casey Pitts, Stephen P. Berzon, Stacey Leyton, Andrew Kushner, Juhyung Harold Lee, Stephen Cannon and Ethan E. Litwin.

The WGA's victory could also open the door for SAG-AFTRA and the DGA to negotiate new franchise agreements with the ATA for the representation of their members. SAG-AFTRA hasn't had a franchise agreement with the ATA since the old Screen Actors Guild had a falling out with the ATA in 2002 when they couldn't come to terms over agency affiliations with related production entities. SAG argued back then, as the WGA did many years later, that such relationships made agents both the representatives and the employers of their members. SAG's move to disenfranchise the major agencies, although dramatic, saw no change in the way the agencies conducted business, and few if any actors left the big agencies to be represented by smaller ones that had agreed to SAG's terms. It's a standoff that continues to this day.

And the DGA recently weighed into the dispute between the WGA and WME, siding with the WGA. On Dec. 31, 2020, DGA national executive director Russell Hollander sent WME president Ari Greenburg saying that the DGA has "been closely following the negotiations and litigation and believes now is the right time to communicate our strong support for the WGA's efforts to remedy the affiliated production company issue."

"The issue of talent agencies owning production entities is, and always has been, an issue of great concern to the DGA," Hollander wrote. "The issue of avoiding conflicts of interest is exceedingly important to the DGA and our members. Affiliated ownership carries with it inherent and obvious conflicts of interest. Agents should be free and unencumbered to carry out their duties to their director-clients with only the directors' interests in mind, and should procure work for directors without the incentive to make cost-effective deals with production companies owned by the same parent company as their agency...This continued conflict of interest is not acceptable to the DGA. Absent prompt resolution, we intend to take all necessary and appropriate steps to protect our members."

The end of the historic legal battle between the WGA and WME came into view on Dec. 18 when U.S. District Court Judge André Birotte Jr., who is presiding over their antitrust case, repeatedly urged WME and the union to settle their dispute before it goes to trial. "Come on folks. Get together. Get this done," he told the lawyers who attended via Zoom.

A few days later, WME gave the WGA a proposal that updated the terms of a previous proposal, but the WGA rejected it on Dec. 29, saying, "WME has yet to grapple, in a serious way, with its own conflicts of interest."

The next day, the judge denied WME's request for a preliminary injunction that would have ended the WGA's boycott of the agency until the case can go to trial. It was a major legal victory for the WGA and added pressure on WME to settle and sign the WGA's franchise agreement. On Jan. 25, Endeavor president Mark Shapiro said that "We are currently in substantive discussions with the WGA to resolve the ongoing dispute. The tenor of the conversation is positive, and we are working diligently with the WGA to move this forward as quickly as possible."

And now that the deal is done, a new era of representing the interests of writers can begin.

Here is the WGA West's letter sent to its members today:

QuoteFebruary 5, 2021

Dear Members,

The WGA and William Morris Endeavor Entertainment, LLC (WME) have reached a deal on a franchise agreement. Therefore, effective immediately, WME may once again represent Guild members for covered writing services. WGA and WME have also agreed to withdraw the legal claims each has brought against the other in federal court.

The WME franchise agreement contains the same terms as those set forth in the UTA/ICM/CAA deals and protects writers in the three fundamental areas that the Guild has emphasized since the beginning of the campaign:

* Contract, deal memo, and invoice information will be provided to the Guild, allowing the WGA and the agency to partner in systematically addressing late pay and free work.
* Strict 20% limitation on agency ownership of production entities.
* A sunset period that ends the practice of packaging by June 30, 2022.
* The WGA also negotiated a side letter with WME, its parent company Endeavor, and Endeavor's private equity owner Silver Lake that contains the protections previously negotiated with CAA, as well as additional terms. The purpose of the WME side letter is to address two complicated conflict of interest issues, one that is currently in play and one that is prospective. Specifically, WME is currently majority-owned by Silver Lake, and WME hopes in the future to become a publicly-traded corporation. Both of these circumstances required complex negotiations in order to ensure one thing: that WME be required to behave as a proper fiduciary, putting writer clients first regardless of the agency's ownership structure. WME, Endeavor and Silver Lake have worked with the WGA over the past month to craft an agreement that achieves this objective.
* WME/Endeavor agreed to a mutually-chosen third-party monitor, Louis M. Meisinger, a retired judge and mediator, to ensure that the agency sells down its interest in Endeavor Content to the required 20% or less in compliance with the Franchise Agreement. The side letter provides a deadline for the sale of Endeavor and Silver Lake's interests in Endeavor Content down to the permissible level.

During the divestment period, WME will escrow all after-tax gross profits, writer commissions and packaging fees related to WGA-covered projects produced by Endeavor Content. Judge Meisinger will also oversee all writer deals negotiated by WME with Endeavor Content to make sure the agency is properly carrying out its fiduciary duties for writer clients.

The side letter imposes serious consequences if the sale is not completed by the agreed deadline, including the right for the WGA to suspend WME's ability to represent writers and an enhanced obligation to escrow profits, package fees and commissions WME/Endeavor receives related to WGA-covered projects produced by Endeavor Content until the sale is complete.

* Consistent with the CAA agreement, the side letter ensures that WME/Endeavor and any Silver Lake entity will not jointly have a greater-than-20% ownership interest in any affiliate production company. The Silver Lake fund that owns WME/Endeavor will not have a greater than 20% ownership interest in any affiliate production company, regardless of whether WME/Endeavor also has an interest in the entity.
* The side letter provides that small (de minimis) shareholders of the agency are exempt from the 20% production ownership cap. This exemption applies only if the shareholder owns 5% or less of the agency and has no control over its operation or management.As long as WME remains a privately-held agency, the exemption will apply only to a limited group of institutional shareholders whose small stake confers no say over agency operations. WME must disclose those shareholders, and is also required to disclose to its writer clients the investor's greater-than-20% ownership interest in any production company that makes an offer of employment. WME must also provide the WGA the offer and final deal terms.

If WME/Endeavor becomes a publicly-traded company, it has agreed to publicly disclose the obligations shareholders have under the Franchise Agreement to prevent potential violations, including the fact that any shareholder who owns more than 5% of the public company would be bound by the Franchise Agreement. Thus, even in the event that WME/Endeavor goes public, any investor that owns 5% or more of the publicly-traded company will be required to abide by the 20% production cap.

* As in the CAA agreement, the side letter contains protections in the event a Silver Lake investment fund, other than the fund that has a direct interest in WME/Endeavor, acquires a greater than 20% interest in a production company. Silver Lake has agreed, going forward, to identify any such production company (as of today, there is none). If WME were to negotiate a deal with such a company, the agency would be required to disclose to its writer clients the existence of Silver Lake's ownership and to provide to the Guild a copy of the offer and final deal points.This transparency will allow the Guild to make sure that WME is negotiating appropriate deals for writers in these circumstances, and that Silver Lake's ownership interest is not suppressing the value of writers' services. If there are patterns in the writer deals—such as below-market pilot script fees, for example—the Guild will have the information it needs to investigate and take any necessary corrective action with WME.

The Guild appreciates the efforts of WME and Endeavor in working through the complicated issues involved in this negotiation.

You can read a red-lined version of the WME franchise agreement here. The WME/Endeavor/Silver Lake side letter is here. Click here  for the list of all franchised agencies.

This agreement concludes the negotiation phase of the agency campaign. The agreements expire on April 12, 2025 unless mutually extended on a year-by-year basis.

Congratulations are in order to the entire membership. Since saying thank you at the end of a long technical email is insufficient to recognize the member contributions and sacrifices this effort entailed, we will be back in touch soon with a wrap-up.

In solidarity,

WGA Agency Negotiating Committee

Chris Keyser, Co-Chair
David Shore, Co-Chair
Meredith Stiehm, Co-Chair
Lucy Alibar
John August
Angelina Burnett
Zoanne Clack
Kate Erickson
Jonathan Fernandez
Travon Free
Ashley Gable
Deric A. Hughes
Chip Johannessen
Michael Schur
Tracey Scott Wilson
Betsy Thomas
Patric M. Verrone
Nicole Yorkin
David A. Goodman, President WGAW, ex-officio
Marjorie David, Vice President WGAW, ex-officio
Michele Mulroney, Secretary-Treasurer WGAW, ex-officio
Beau Willimon, President WGAE, ex-officio
Kathy McGee, Vice President WGAE, ex-officio
Bob Schneider, Secretary-Treasurer WGAE, ex-officio


From this article discussing the potential sale of Lionsgate:



1986 – Capital Cities buys ABC

1989 – Sony buys Columbia Pictures


1990 – Warner Communications and Time merge

1991 – Matsushita buys Universal parent MCA

1994 – Viacom buys Paramount

1994 – Viacom buys Blockbuster

1995 – Seagram buys Universal/MCA from Matsushita

1995  – Westinghouse buys CBS

1996 – Disney buys Capital Cities/ABC

1996 – Time Warner and Turner Broadcasting merge

1997 – Westinghouse sells its power and light bulb businesses and changes name to CBS

1998- AT&T buys John Malone's TCI cable

1999 – Viacom buys CBS


2000 – AOL buys Time Warner

2001 – Vivendi buys Seagram

2001 – Vivendi buys Barry Diller's USA Networks

2001 – Comcast buys AT&T Broadband

2003 – Vivendi creates NBCUniversal by combining the studio with GE's TV biz led by NBC

2004 – Comcast tries unsuccessfully to buy Disney

2011 – Comcast buys 51% of NBCUniversal

2013 – Comcast buys rest of NBCUniversal

2014 – AT&T acquires DirecTV

2015 – Charter Acquires Time Warner Cable

2017 – Disney acquires Fox (outbids Comcast, which buys Sky)

2018 – AT&T acquires Time Warner

2021 – AT&T sells part of DirecTV

2021- AT&T sells WarnerMedia

2021 – Amazon buys MGM


Dang!! Very interesting.
lol @ Comcast in 2004.

30 Rock's Kabletown arc was the first time I took note of these purchases/Corp-blobs. And when Disney bought Marvel... I remember finding that very odd, yet, it's somehow been better for Marvel than for Star Wars which I hadn't anticipated.


Someone joked that in another 10 years all of these media companies will be owned by PornHub.


They Resurrected MGM. Amazon Bought the Studio. Now What?

Michael De Luca and Pamela Abdy have reinvigorated a once-storied Hollywood institution. Now it needs to figure out its place in a streaming company.

Nicole Sperling
July 6, 2021Updated 4:04 p.m. ET

Paul Thomas Anderson and Michael De Luca are film geeks with a shared history. As a studio executive, Mr. De Luca championed Mr. Anderson's "Boogie Nights" and "Magnolia," films that established the director's reputation as a creative force. So when Focus Features said it would postpone the production of Mr. Anderson's new film because of the pandemic, it was Mr. De Luca, in his new role as chairman of MGM's Motion Picture Group, who swooped in and pledged to get the movie into production in Los Angeles when Mr. Anderson wanted to shoot.

And being that the two men can't resist the pull of old Hollywood, Mr. De Luca made sure to amp up the nostalgia associated with his efforts to reinvigorate MGM, the once mighty studio that in recent decades has been reduced to a financial Ping-Pong ball, volleyed back and forth by various investors eager to turn the company's 4,000-film library into a cash cow.

"I said, 'This will be fun. Come make your movie at Metro,'" Mr. De Luca recalled with a laugh, referring to the studio's former moniker of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Mr. Anderson was game.

"If Mike says something will happen, it happens," he said. "It's hard not to stress how rare of a quality that is."

The question now is, in light of Amazon's decision last month to acquire MGM in an $8.45 billion deal, will Mr. De Luca still be able to keep his promises? Or will he simply be part of a corporate hierarchy less prone to taking chances on films and filmmakers?

In the past 15 months, MGM has experienced a resurgence, led by Mr. De Luca, a one-time brash and reckless young executive who introduced filmmakers like Mr. Anderson and David Fincher to the culture when he was president of production at New Line Cinema, and now, after 36 years in the business, is seen as one of its most reliable statesmen. His deputy, Pamela Abdy, produced "Garden State" when she was at Jersey Films and amplified the career of Alejandro González Iñárritu, among others, during her time as a Paramount executive and later at New Regency.

At MGM, the two have compiled a heady mix of A-list directors and compelling material they hope hearkens back to the days when Fred Astaire and Judy Garland roamed the once-hallowed studio's hallways. The next six months will show if their strategy pays off. Mr. Anderson's movie will debut on Nov. 26. It will follow Ridley Scott's pulpy drama "House of Gucci," starring Lady Gaga and Adam Driver. In December, Joe Wright's musical adaptation of "Cyrano," with Peter Dinklage and featuring music from The National, will be released.

And then there is "No Time to Die," the long-awaited 25th installment of the James Bond franchise and Daniel Craig's swan song in the role, which is scheduled for theatrical release on Oct. 8. (The film was completed before Mr. De Luca and Ms. Abdy's arrival and was delayed by the pandemic.)

"Mike and Pam understand that we are at a critical juncture and that the continuing success of the James Bond series is dependent on us getting the next iteration right and will give us the support we need to do this," Michael Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, the sibling producing team who have long overseen the Bond franchise, said in a statement.

They added that "Amazon has assured us that Bond will continue to debut" in movie theaters. "Our hope is that they will empower Mike and Pam to continue to run MGM unencumbered," they said.

Still, Amazon's priorities are inherently different from a traditional studio's.

In 2019, Amazon Studios, under the leadership of Jennifer Salke, shifted away from exclusive theatrical windows, opting instead to make movies available in theaters and on Amazon Prime the same day, the strategy preferred by the prominent streaming platforms. The pandemic turbocharged that approach. Ms. Salke was able to buy films like "Coming 2 America" and the recently released "The Tomorrow War" from studios looking to offload their movies because theaters were largely closed. Viewership on Amazon Prime skyrocketed and movies, which had previously taken a back seat to television shows, suddenly became a much more attractive opportunity. Anemic overall film output would no longer do.

Mr. De Luca and Ms. Abdy stress that even in light of the pending acquisition, which still needs government approval, their philosophy of movie theaters first will remain.

"There is theatrical in our near future, there will be theatrical after the deal closes," Mr. De Luca said. "There will always be theatrical at MGM."

It's not clear how the management of MGM will be handled once the acquisition is complete. Amazon declined to comment on the record for this article. There are some in Hollywood's film community who are hopeful that Mr. De Luca and Ms. Abdy will oversee Amazon's movie business once the merger is complete.

Ms. Salke has led both divisions for the past three years, managing an $8 billion annual content budget, and Amazon has made no indication that will change. Before joining Amazon, Ms. Salke spent seven years as president of entertainment at NBC. (In an interesting twist, Ms. Salke's biggest bet is a $450 million television adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings," which Peter Jackson previously adapted into a series of blockbuster films at New Line when Mr. De Luca was an executive there.) Her upcoming films include the Cannes Film Festival opener "Annette"; Aaron Sorkin's "Being the Ricardos," about Lucy and Desi Arnaz; and George Clooney's "The Tender Bar," starring Ben Affleck.

The producer Matt Tolmach, who has two projects in the works at MGM, including the horror film "Dark Harvest," set for release on Sept. 23, said Mr. De Luca's passion for good stories is infectious. "He read the script and he called me, and we had an hourlong conversation just about the possibilities and how amazing it would be and how we can push the boundaries," he said of "Dark Harvest." "That's what he does. He makes your movie better."

As Mr. De Luca sees it, the new MGM is about "treating the filmmakers like the franchise," he said. When he and Ms. Abdy first joined forces, the duo compiled a list of 36 directors they were hoping to lure to the studio. In 15 months, they've nabbed 20 percent of them, including Darren Aronofsky, Sarah Polley, Melina Matsoukas and George Miller.

"We don't mind taking big swings and gambling because I think it's either go big or go home," he added. "I think the audience rewards you if you are really original, innovative, bold and creative."

In a shareholder meeting last month, Jeff Bezos, Amazon's founder and executive chairman, called the reason behind the acquisition "very simple." He said MGM had a "vast, deep catalog of much beloved" movies and shows. "We can reimagine and redevelop that I.P. for the 21st century."

That runs counter to the approach Mr. De Luca and Ms. Abdy have primarily taken.

"Mike and I did not sit down and say let's raid the library and remake everything," Ms. Abdy said. "Our focus is original ideas with original authorship and real filmmakers, but you know every once in a while something will come up that's fun and we'll pursue it if we think it makes sense."

Those ideas include a hybrid live action/animated remake of "Pink Panther"; Michael B. Jordan directing the third installment of the "Rocky" spinoff "Creed"; and "Legally Blonde 3" with Reese Witherspoon and a script co-written by Mindy Kaling.

Of course, all of MGM's success is hypothetical, as none of the projects initiated by Mr. De Luca and Ms. Abdy have been seen yet. The company's recent acquisition of Sean Penn's directorial effort "Flag Day," which is set to debut at the Cannes Film Festival before opening on Aug. 20, will mark the regime's first release. The studio also has high hopes for "Respect," an Aretha Franklin biopic starring Jennifer Hudson, which comes out in August (and was in motion when Mr. De Luca and Ms. Abdy came to MGM).

But they said their efforts to reinvigorate the studio were more than just an attempt to make the company attractive to buyers. Anchorage Capital, the majority owners of MGM, put the studio up for sale in December and the speed with which a deal was made surprised Mr. De Luca and Ms. Abdy.

Both said they were in for the long haul. "If it works, I feel like it could go on forever," Mr. De Luca said. Ms. Abdy added, "Until they carry us out."

As part of their efforts, Mr. De Luca and Mrs. Abdy even had MGM's logo reworked: Leo the lion is now digital and the gold film ribbons that encircle him have been sharpened "to own gold the way Netflix owns red," Mr. De Luca said. The three Latin words encircling the lion — "Ars Gratia Artis" — are first spelled out in English: "Art for Art's Sake."

That's music to Mr. Anderson's ears.

"Long live the lion!" he said. "Whether it's 'The Wizard of Oz' or 'Tom & Jerry' cartoons, the lion is a symbol of our business. The healthier, the better."

And how does he feel about MGM being sold to Amazon?

"Who?" he responded.


QuoteHis deputy, Pamela Abdy, produced "Garden State" when she was at Jersey Films and amplified the career of Alejandro González Iñárritu

So that's 2 strikes against her.


Netflix's Scott Stuber Is Doing 'Everything I Can' to Land Christopher Nolan's Next Film

The streamer's film chief is feeling bold since signing Steven Spielberg's Amblin Partners


Oscars Academy Postpones All In-Person Events and Screenings Until 2022

QuoteCOVID is still disrupting the Oscar season. On Friday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science canceled all in-person events and screenings for the remainder of 2021.

QuoteThe scaling back of in-person Academy events is the latest sign of anxiety about the recent surge in COVID infections and hospitalizations in the U.S. and worldwide.

I'll be disappointed--but not surprised--if late season releases get delayed.