Jeff Bezos is one of the richest men in history, his company has upended the way people buy everything, and he wants to start humans on a different planet.
Simply put, he is an ambitious man.
Nor will he ever settle for Amazon Prime Video (AMZN) – Get Amazon.com, Inc. Reports No less than the premiere streaming service. Currently, this is not the case.
He’s been very open, and he wants Amazon Prime Video to compete with HBO (T) – Get AT&T Inc. report and Netflix (NFLX) – Get the Netflix, Inc. report.
Now, he has bought himself the nearly century-old MGM Studios, one of Hollywood’s most prestigious brands, to help him achieve his goals.
Why did Amazon buy MGM?
At a shareholder meeting last year, Bezos said Amazon bought MGM because of “a lot of well-loved intellectual property,” he said.
“With the talent at MGM and the talent at Amazon Studios, we can reimagine and develop this IP for the 21st century,” he said. “It’s going to be a really fun job, and people who love stories will be the biggest beneficiaries.”
Bezos wants MGM for two reasons: expertise and franchise potential.
Amazon could use some help
Developing iconic, enduring films and TV shows is a tricky art, and streaming companies, largely led by technologists, don’t always grasp intuitively.
By the numbers, Prime hasn’t quite found its way.
Amazon has said its streaming service has 200 million subscribers, a number often pointed out as unreliable. That’s because Prime Video is included when you sign up for Amazon Prime, the company’s popular two-day shipping service.
But there are ways to get a rough idea of how popular streaming is in the real world.
Take the Amazon adaptation of Robert Jordan’s hit fantasy series “The Wheel of Time.”
Amazon paid $250 million for the rights to the adaptation, and then $10 million per installment over eight episodes of the first season, all to secure their next Game of Thrones.
The first season, which premiered late last year, received mixed reviews, with a Metacritic score of 55. At least not yet. It also doesn’t dominate Google or Twitter trends as Game of Thrones often does.
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Despite all of Amazon’s investment, The Wheel of Time didn’t end up on Nielsen’s 2021 list of most-streamed original (that is, made for a streaming network) series.
In fact, in addition to Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale, Disney+’s WandaVision and AppleTV+’s (AAPL) – Get Apple Inc. Report Ted Lasso”, the entire list is dominated by Netflix shows.
Movies made by Amazon have a similar story.
The only movie on Amazon’s list of most-streamed movies was its heavily advertised and poorly-reviewed Chris Pratt car “Tomorrow’s War,” which didn’t make the top 10.
With a price tag of more than $200 million, it was one of the most expensive movies ever made for a streaming service — but in the end, it was followed by a bunch of children’s cartoons.
Clearly, Amazon could use some help in the originals department. It can also use some identifiable franchises.
Intellectual property is everything
Complain that everything in Hollywood is a sequel, reboot or franchise because you’re 100% accurate.
But “tent pole movies” and Marvel-esque ongoing stories are the current driving force in Hollywood.
Most of last year’s top 10 movies were either in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or part of the James Bond or Fast and Furious franchises — and that’s not going to change anytime soon.
Now, Amazon has access to people who know how to deliver high-quality content, and the plethora of well-known names it can relaunch endlessly.
The company says it has no immediate plans to change the Bond franchise, and Daniel Craig has repeatedly insisted that this time around, he’s really done the role.
But after the success of No Time to Die, Amazon couldn’t keep one of the world’s most recognizable games dormant for long. Ask Batman fans how much patience the studio has to keep their characters idle these days.
So if you want to complain about rebooting too much, you can expect more chances to complain because they are undoubtedly on their way.
But if you’ve been desperately waiting for a grim and gritty reboot of the ’00s TV series The Pink Panther, or, heck, more episodes of Stargate SG-1, this might finally be the case will be your lucky day.
Expertise, deep catalogues, and recognizable attributes are tough things for streaming platforms. However, if you have the money, it’s wise to buy them and lock them to work for you.