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2009 News

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Crown not considering stake in Las Vegas development, by Ross Kelly -
6th April 2009

Crown has denied media reports that it is considering taking a stake in the troubled City Center development in Las Vegas.

The $US8.6 billion ($12.03 billion) development is owned by MGM Mirage and Dubai World.

"Crown is not having any discussions with MGM or Dubai World with respect to any such investment in City Center," Crown said today in a statement.

The Wall Street Journal quoted an unnamed source as saying Crown was considering investing in the project with US investment firm Colony Capital.

The source said Crown and Colony “would step in and take over the funding requirements. The idea is to keep City Center going”.




Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc., or MGM, is an American media company, involved primarily in the production and distribution of films and television programs.
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 Quantum of Solace, 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.

Established in 1924, MGM is tied for the fifth-oldest movie studio in history with Columbia Pictures. The studio's motto, "Ars Gratia Artis", is Latin meaning "Art for art's sake."

On April 16, 2009, MGM will celebrate its 85th Anniversary.



In 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.

MGM's golden age
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 well[3]. 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.[2] 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 years, and other MGM sex symbol actress Jean Harlow now had a big break and became one of MGM's most admired stars as well[5]; despite Jean Harlow's gain, Garbo still was a big star for MGM after she returned from her absence[6]. 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 Gable[7]; Gable's career took off to new heights after he won an Oscar for the 1934 Columbia film It Happened One Night.[3] 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.


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.

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 [8] [9]. 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.

In October, the company launched MGM HD on DirecTV, offering a library of movies formatted in Hi Def.

MGM teamed up with Weigel Broadcasting to launch a new channel titled This TV on November 1, 2008.

On August 12, 2008, MGM teamed up with Comcast to launch a new video-on-demand network titled Impact.

On November 10, 2008, MGM announced that it will release full length films on YouTube.

MGM's library today

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.

Through its purchases of many different companies and film and television libraries, MGM has greatly enhanced its film and TV holdings.

Material owned by MGM

Nearly all of its own post-1986 library;
Most of the post-1952 United Artists catalog (although it also includes a tiny fraction of pre-1952 UA material);

The post-1981 Orion Pictures film and television library (which includes material from predecessors American International Pictures (excepting early AIP Films), Heatter-Quigley Productions, and Filmways (excepting The Beverly Hillbillies and Petticoat Junction));

The pre-1997 Samuel Goldwyn Company library;
The pre-1996 Motion Picture Corporation of America library (excluding co-productions with other studios such as Dumb and Dumber with New Line Cinema);
The theatrical rights to most of the ITV Global Entertainment catalog, including their inherited Granada International and ITC Entertainment (The Return of the Pink Panther, Capricorn One, On Golden Pond, etc.) libraries;
The home video rights to the ABC Motion Pictures library, under license from Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment;

Most of the Cannon Films library (King Solomon's Mines, That Championship Season, etc., with a few exceptions, including certain films distributed by Warner Bros., the television rights to Lifeforce--those stand with Sony Pictures Television, and most territorial rights to Surrender and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace);
Most of the pre-1996 PolyGram Filmed Entertainment library:

Selected Nelson Entertainment properties (including the pre-Turner-merger Castle Rock Entertainment library with the exception of co-productions with Columbia Pictures), and Embassy Pictures properties, under license from StudioCanal (with the exception of two films co-produced and co-distributed by Columbia);

The Epic Productions library:
Those of other smaller defunct studios, including Atlantic Releasing Corporation, Scotti Bros. Pictures and Hemdale Film Corporation - itself incorporated into the Orion library.
(Credit: Wikipedia).





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