Michael de Luca, chairman of MGM Motion Picture Group, and Pamela Abdi, president, insisted that the Hollywood studio remained a haven for filmmakers who want to release their movies in cinemas.
Speaking at an industry event at the Zurich Film Festival, Roig Sutherland, co-head of CAA Media Finance, interviewed the pair on stage before the theatrical launch of “No Time to Die” next week at the Zurich Summit. He asked how they persuaded filmmakers to work with MGM instead of streamers “which are incredibly competitive in pricing.”
“The good news is we don’t have to pitch really heavy sales,” De Luca replied. “The filmmakers who come with us like drama so they make it themselves. These are two distinct experiences. ”
MGM’s top directors have an impressive slate of films, including Ridley Scott’s “House of Gucci”, George Miller’s “Three Thousand Years of Aspiration”, Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Lycoris Pizza” and Sarah Polly’s “Women Talking”.
“Whether you’re George Miller, Ridley Scott, Paul Thomas Anderson or Sarah Polly, with whom we make movies, they all like a person who likes the theatrical experience for their films,” de Luca said. “And we gave them that choice.”
He admits, however, that the studio lost some films to streamers because the talents had their own reasons for liking streaming, one of which preferred not to have the burden of the opening weekend on their shoulders.
“Our slate reflects filmmakers who love drama, even in an era of epidemics,” de Luca added.
While making its slate, Abdi said that there is no specific genre that the studio likes. “We try to follow the filmmakers first. This is what attracts us the most … IP is the director for us. ”
De Luca and Abdi’s comments certainly come, just four months after the streamer Amazon announced it was buying MGM for 45 8.45 billion.
De Luca said the agreement was only under review by the Federal Trade Commission, “We are still operating as two separate entities because it is a normal part of business until it is closed.”
He added: “None of us will know what the integration will be like unless we are approved on the other side of it and we are far from it.”
Sutherland also asked De Luca and Abdi why they “doubled” in making movies during the epidemic when many other studios stopped production.
“We are an independent studio, we don’t have unlimited resources,” de Luca explained. “Whenever you’re in a small, scrapie company, you see what the big guys aren’t doing. We’re very opportunistic about it …
“At the time, the word ‘uncertainty’ was being tossed around a lot – like ‘an uncertain future of theater’ – which streamers must have used to their advantage, which is fine.” It’s a competitive pitch for them. But we just thought, ‘Okay, the studios are going backwards. Let’s do the opposite. ”
As a result, Abdi said MGM was able to “create an arsenal of films” ready for release as the world opened up after the epidemic.
Despite being a well-known director for making films for MGM, the pair insisted that the studio was still swaying with new voices and talents as part of its desire to give audiences original films.
“We’re looking at projects with that kind of special sauce,” de Luca said. “It simply came to our notice then. People are showing something that is not pendering or derivative.
“I think originality is a huge, theater-worthy criterion for us … There’s a lot going on, especially with streamers. I don’t think you’ll win a streaming battle or even a drama battle or just a battle with blanket volume.”
Looking ahead, De Luca added that the studio would “like to do more international co-production” based on the library’s title from the MGM archives. “There is an element that can be adapted to the local language.”
Abdi added: “We have a deep library. Our hope is to adopt some of those titles, which do not necessarily need to be remade in America and made as a local language film. I think there is a real opportunity. ”