Amazon’s $8.5 billion acquisition of MGM, one of Hollywood’s most storied studios, in March 2022 was largely driven by MGM’s extensive film and TV catalog, which spans nearly a century. Since the acquisition, Amazon Studios has been sifting through MGM’s library to identify initial titles for film and TV development. Some of the titles that have been identified include Robocop, Stargate, Legally Blonde, Fame, Barbershop, The Magnificent Seven, Pink Panther, and The Thomas Crown Affair. Each title is being approached differently, with some being steered toward film, some toward TV, and some getting both movie and TV treatments.
Amazon Studios is in active early conversation about Legally Blonde, both for a movie and a potential TV series, sources said. There already had been on-and-off efforts to get a third Legally Blonde film off the ground for the past five years.
Amazon has similar plans for Stargate. We hear both film and TV installments are considered, with a movie likely going first. Robocop is also being talked about for film and TV, with a TV show possibly first, Deadline hears.
Additionally, sources said that Amazon Studios is actively developing TV series based on Fame, Barbershop, and The Magnificent Seven. Sources said there are also discussions about a Thomas Crown Affair movie and a Pink Panther movie, which could be animated. A Poltergeist project also is a possibility down the road.
Identifying and developing MGM’s IP has been slow going so far. Some of that has been by design, as the new owners want to be thoughtful about the process given the great legacy of the titles involved. Some of it has been by necessity given the complexity of some of the underlying rights that have been taking months to untangle. Cynthia Waldman, who has spent more than 20 years combined at the company and is now Head of Library Rights in her fourth stint at MGM, is responsible for sorting through the complexity of rights.
The job of Waldman is to act as an entertainment archeologist, helping producers figure out the intricacies of rights to projects they are interested in adapting. The Robocop sci-fi action franchise centers around the futuristic adventures of Alex Murphy, a Detroit, Michigan police officer, who is fatally wounded in the line of duty and transformed into a powerful cyborg, brand-named RoboCop. The first film premiered in 1987, followed by two sequels, Robocop 2 in 1990, Robocop 3 in 1993, and 2014’s Robocop, a remake of the 1987 film.
The Legally Blonde movie franchise, based on the novel Legally Blonde by Amanda Brown, debuted in 2001, starring Reese Witherspoon as Harvard Law student Elle Woods. The franchise includes Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde in 2003 and the 2009 direct-to-video spinoff Legally Blondes. Legally Blonde 3, co-written by Mindy Kaling and Dan Goor, has been in the works for several years.
The Stargate military sci-fi franchise, spanning film and TV, launched in 1994 with a movie directed by Roland Emmerich. It was followed by two more films, Stargate: The Ark of Truth in 2008 and Stargate: Continuum in 2008. In TV, Stargate SG-1 was one of the longest-running science-fiction series in U.S. television history, followed by Stargate Atlantis in 2004 and Stargate Universe in 2009, the animated series Stargate Infinity in 2002, and the web series Stargate Origins in 2018.
Similarly, The Magnificent Seven, directed by John Sturges in 1960, is a Western classic that has been adapted multiple times over the years, including a 2016 film directed by Antoine Fuqua and starring Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt.
The Pink Panther film franchise, which first debuted in 1963, centers around the bumbling French detective Inspector Clouseau, played originally by Peter Sellers. The franchise has had multiple sequels and spin-offs and has become a cultural touchstone for many.
The Thomas Crown Affair, directed by Norman Jewison in 1968, is a heist film starring Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway. It was remade in 1999 with Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo.
It’s clear that Amazon’s acquisition of MGM has given the company access to an extensive library of beloved films and TV shows with built-in fanbases. And with the recent trend of Hollywood studios and streaming services reviving classic IP for new audiences, it’s no surprise that Amazon is exploring the potential of these properties for film and TV development.
However, the process of sorting through the complex rights issues and identifying which titles to develop has been slow going. As Cynthia Waldman, Head of Library Rights at MGM, works to untangle the ownership and financing history of these titles, it remains to be seen which projects will ultimately make it to the screen.
One thing is certain, though: with the talent already expressing interest in these properties and Amazon’s track record of successful original content, these adaptations have the potential to be must-watch entertainment for fans both old and new.
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