After days of speculation, Amazon was officially confirmed as the new owners of MGM, and by proxy many huge movie and TV franchises are now theirs to do what they like with. Like Disney’s acquisition of Fox before it, the merger opens up many new avenues for Amazon to explore – although some movies such as The Wizard of Oz and Gone With The Wind to mention two after off limits for complex legal reasons. With their Prime Video service already scoring multiple hits in the TV series stakes, with the likes of Bosch, The Boys and Jack Ryan, along with their multi-million dollar Lord of The Rings TV Series taking shape, we take a look at which of their newly purchased movie franchises Amazon could put into production right now, and which they are likely to pass on.
We can’t start this list without ticking off MGM’s biggest money-spinner. There are fewer things certain in the movie industry than the notion that somewhere in the future there will always be another Bond movie. Since Dr No brought the MI6 agent to the big screen, and made a megastar of Sean Connery, we have seen the mantle passed on from one generation to the next with varying levels of success. Even when the franchise seemed to be running out of steam, something came along to give it the jumpstart it needed. The arrival of Daniel Craig in 2006’s Casino Royale was one such jolt to the system, bringing out a brutal and emotional side of Bond that had been missing for some time which proved to be a hit with moviegoers. As Daniel Craig’s tenure comes to an end this year with No Time To Die, speculation of who will take over has been the topic of conversation for a number of years already. If there is one of their acquired franchises that Amazon are guaranteed to be ready to throw a fair bit of money behind, then this is going to be the one. We would expect some big name stars to be linked to the newly vacated role and an announcement about the next generation of Bond to be high on the priority list.
The 1980s gave birth to many macho, violent movie franchises of which RoboCop was one. The 1987 Paul Verhoeven film centered on police officer Alex Murphy, played by Peter Weller, who is murdered on duty and is brought back to life as a part-cyborg law enforcer. Like many of Verhoeven’s movies, the film was soaked in violence to the point it had to be cut severely to gain the certification the studio wanted. The original movie was something of a critical success, with its satirical look at corporate greed and the police system making it more than just another brainless, shoot-’em up action film. The film spawned two badly received sequels, with RoboCop 3 (1994) being seen as a complete failure and franchise killer. However, after a number of video games and animated series, a reboot of the movie franchise hit theaters in 2014, to mixed reviews but financial success. In 2020 it was announced that a direct sequel to the 1987 original was moving into development, with Abe Forsythe down to direct and co-write the script. Will Amazon see this as a risk worth taking? There is currently a big 80s nostalgia trip going on, which could massively help keep the new sequel on Amazons list of projects for the near future.
The story of Rocky began in 1976, when Sylvester Stallone was first heard bellowing “Adrian” through beaten lips and a legacy was born. The original movie cost just over $1 million to make but raked in over $225 million at the global box office. With a return like that, and a Best Picture win at the Academy Awards, it was never going to stop there. And it didn’t. So far the franchise has spawned seven sequels including the spin-off movies Creed and Creed 2 in 2015 and 2018 respectively, with a third Creed movie expected in 2022. While Stallone appears to be moving away from the series, announcing in April this year that he won’t appear as his character Rocky Balboa in Creed 3, there have been discussions ongoing since 2019 about a potential prequel to the original film based on the life of a younger Rocky. Could this be where Amazon choose to take the franchise? With Creed and Creed 2 being big hits at the box office, it’s unlikely they are about to ding the bell on Rocky just yet, but without Stallone a prequel movie or series may be their best route to go.
The work of Tolkien is a dark and twisted mess when it comes to who owns what. The original Lord of The Rings trilogy was produced by New Line Cinema and WingNut Films two decades ago – if you can believe that – and the belated Hobbit Trilogy was a jointly financed effort between New Line, WingNut Films and MGM, with distribution by Warner Bros. In 2017, Amazon bought the television rights to Tolkien’s Lord Of The Rings for a mere $250 million and have a plan to make a five season production based on the stories of Middle Earth in what will be one of the most expensive TV series ever put on screen. However, as this series takes place thousands of years before The Hobbit, it is unlikely that we will see any further adventures of Bilbo and Co anytime soon, and certainly not in movie form. The first season of the series is scheduled to premiere on Prime Video later this year and will likely be the way forward for Tolkien’s work for the foreseeable future.
The Addams Family
They’re creepy and they’re kooky, and the story of who owns The Addams Family is a little bit ooky. Amazon have gained the rights to The Addams Family thanks to MGM being the current rights holders of the family created by Charles Addams way back in 1938. Over the years, many aspects of the family, which started life as a series of unrelated single panel cartoons, more than half of which were published in The New Yorker, have been bought for use including Disney (1998 TV series), Warner Bros. (1973 and 1992 TV Series), MGM-owned Orion Pictures (who own the original series and part of the 1991 movie), and Universal Pictures/United Artists ( for the 2019 and 2021 animated movies). While The Addams Family are one of those creations that are so iconic it is hard to image there not being something new constantly in production, with the recent animated movies and Tim Burton currently making his Netflix series Wednesday, it’s likely that Amazon will dip into the franchise at some point once they see how Burton’s series is received.
Bill & Ted
The adventures of William “Bill” S Preston Esq. and “Ted” Theodore Logan, played by Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves respectively, first started in 1989 with the pair taking an Excellent Adventure into the past and meet numerous icons of centuries gone by. A couple of years later, the pair returned for a Bogus Journey, which saw them sent to Hell – literally – as they played the Grim Reaper at Twister and spoke to God for a chance to return to Earth. The franchise also featured an animated series, a live action series and numerous games and books, before a surprising and much belated third movie, Bill and Ted Face The Music, arrived in 2020, once again featuring Winters and Reeves in the lead roles. While the new movie proved to be popular, and a fourth movie has been mentioned in a number of interviews, it is unlikely that Amazon would rush to prioritize a continuation of the series, especially with movie writer Ed Solomon being quoted as say he felt that Bill and Ted’s story was done in a recent interview. In these days of reboots though, and the fact the pair have daughters in their most recent movie, we could still see a spin off from the franchise at some point.
Stargate is a science fiction franchise that began with a feature movie in 1994, which focuses on an alien device capable of transporting people across the universe and beyond almost instantly. The hit movie, which grossed just under $200million at the box office, was followed by the long running series’ Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis and Stargate Universe, which in all ran between 1997 and 2011. There have also been a couple of direct to video movies, which were linked to the Atlantis series, and most recently, in 2018, a web series Stargate Origins, which ran for ten episodes, each lasting ten minutes, was released partly to tie in the 20th Anniversary of Stargate SG-1. With so much ground already covered, and very little seen to suggest that the almost complete decade long absence of any new material is something that needs to be rectified, Amazon will likely have a number of other projects to pursue before they would consider reopening the Stargate again.
Legally Blonde starred Reese Witherspoon and was released in 2001, with a sequel following soon after in 2003. There was also a little heard of spin-off movie called Legally Blondes, which was released straight to DVD in 2009. The franchise also spawned a stage musical, which premiered in San Francisco in 2007 before moving to New York. Back in May 2020, it was announced that writers Mindy Kaling and Dan Goor had signed on to write a third film in the series, and later in the year MGM confirmed that Legally Blonde 3 will be released in May 2022. Considering this one seems to be well on the way to production and given the popularity of the original films, it’s unlikely that Amazon will drop this one from its production schedule.
The Pink Panther
The Pink Panther first hit screens in 1963, and starred Peter Sellers as inept detective Inspector Clouseau. The movie was popular enough to have no less than 9 sequels in all, some with Sellers and others without. It also received a reboot in 2006, with Steven Martin in the role made so iconic by Sellers it was always going to end badly. While it was panned by critics, Martin’s version did get its own sequel in 2009. Since then, there have been no further attempts to continue the franchise but perhaps this could be a good time for Amazon to try and eradicate the memory of Martin’s Clouseau and give us something more in line with Sellers’ fantastically crafted original. Of course, if they really wanted to be nice, there are plenty Pink Panther fans, myself included, who would be more than happy for Amazon to leave this one well alone.
And as far as MGM’s movie series goes, GI Joe received two film releases starting with Rise of Cobra in 2009, and a second installment, starring Bruce Willis and Dwayne Johnson, called GI Joe: Retaliation in 2013. While critics generally hated both movies, with negative reviews hailing in like the many bullets seen on screen, the movies made decent money at the box office, so this is one franchise that could very well be resuscitated by Amazon. Also going for this is the fact it originated from a toy line of the 1980s, and as there is currently a big surge in 80s nostalgia revivals, such as Masters of The Universe, that could well make it a worthwhile project to reboot all over again. If Amazon can manage to get a decent storyline to boot, then they could certainly be onto a winner.
The Millennium Trilogy
Author Stieg Larsson only completed three books in his 10 book series about “The Girl Who”, which became known as The Millennium Trilogy. It was somewhat ironic then that although MGM made and released The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, starring Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara, the good reviews and decent box office success wasn’t enough to get the other planned movies made. David Fincher was already planning the sequels, The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest, but by 2015 the franchise was dead and a reboot was pitched. For reasons mostly unknown, this did not quite pan out and instead they made a continuation of the original movie story in The Girl In The Spider’s Web based on the novel of the same name. Whether it had to do with an entire change of cast, or simply the lack of commitment to do the job properly, the film was a box office bomb and gross just $35 million which was around $10 million less than its budget. With this in mind I think Amazon would think very hard before deciding whether to go on with the franchise.
The Jump Street series began in 2012 with 21 Jump Street, which itself was based on the television series of the same name. The movie starred Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill and proved to be a success both in terms of reviews and box office takings. The sequel, 22 Jump Street followed in 2014, and was surprisingly praised by many critics, with some even saying it was one of the best comedy sequels ever made and they could be right considering it made $331 million worldwide – not a bad return on the estimated $50 million budget. Soon after, a third film was discussed, as well as a possible crossover with the Men In Black franchise, but neither came to fruition. In early 2015, a female version of 21 Jump Street was also rumored to be in production with Tiffany Haddish confirmed as the lead back in December 2018. In light of the bad reception many gender swap movies have received lately, taking this direction with the franchise seems highly doubtful anytime in the near future.
Barbershop was released in 2002 and was a comedy drama film by Tim Story. The movie received positive reviews from critics but also gained a fair share of negative comments in relation to the script. Despite that the film went on to be a commercial success and took $77 million worldwide on the back of a $12 million budget. The sequel, Barbershop 2: Back in Business was released in 2004, with a third installment, Barbershop: The Next Cut, following 12 years later in 2016 to general high praise and decent box office receipts. In 2005, the spin-off movie entitled Beauty Shop, which starred Queen Latifah in the role she originally played in Barbershop 2. It didn’t fair quite as well attracting an approval rating of only 38% on Rotten Tomatoes. The question of whether Amazon would attempt to squeeze anymore from the franchise with so many other offerings to choose from, Barbershop is probably one that wouldn’t make the cut.
Clash of The Titans
Clash of The Titans was released in 2010, a remake of the 1981 movie the same name which was followed a couple of years later by a sequel, Wrath of The Titans. Starring Liam Neeson, Sam Worthington, Ralph Fiennes, Bill Nighy and Rosamond Pike to name a few of the star-studded cast, both films were very loosely based on various Greek myths and perhaps it was the mishmash of tales that led to the wave of negative reviews it sailed out on. Despite a lack of support from critics, the Clash and Wrath went on to make $483 million and $301 million respectively but the planned follow up Revenge of The Titans was ditched due to the lack of positive reviews and a strange lack of ideas, which considering the wealth of Greek Myth stories out there seems to show how little interest there was in continuing the saga at the time. With Amazon currently putting a lot of effort – and money – into their Lord of The Rings series, it is doubtful they would want to lumber themselves with the risk of tarnishing their fantasy credentials by re-launching the Titans.
Hot Tub Time Machine
Hot Tub Time Machine was a science fiction comedy film released in 2010, starring John Cusack about…well a hot tub that was a time machine. The idea was no DeLorean, and the film was certainly no Back To The Future, but still the movie did manage to gain moderately positive reviews and brought in a reasonable $64.6 million against a budget of $36 million. In itself that probably wouldn’t have been enough to warrant a sequel, but the movie enjoyed a wave of support when it released on DVD, so a sequel did indeed arrive five years later. However, it was one of those cases where a time machine of any description would have been useful for all those involved – which did not include Cusack who only appeared in a cameo in an Unrated Edition – as the movie was not only unanimously panned by audiences and critics, but managed to only take $12 million during its entire cinema run – $2 million less than the opening weekend of the first movie. If a franchise can so spectacularly run out of steam after just two movies, I think we can safely say that Amazon won’t be bringing it back to their future any time soon.
Which of Amazon’s new acquisitions would you like to see back on the big screen? With these and many other franchises to choose from, it looks like Amazon are certainly going to be busy in the industry in for many years to come.