Talk about an odd plot twist. Big-budget film director brothers Tony and Sir Ridley Scott have emerged as possible bidders for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the beleaguered studio which has been shopped around since late last year.
It's not clear where the Scott brothers would come up with the cash -- MGM, which has been languishing on the market for several months was initially expected to fetch $2 billion. The lucky buyers also have to deal with the sticky matter of MGM's $3.7 billion in debt, which needs to be restructured. Still, the Scott Brothers are reportedly interested in heading the studio and restructuring its debt, according to the Financial Times,
It's probably a good time to jump in given that MGM's fetching price seems to be rapidly declining. Time Warner (TWX) reportedly delivered the highest bid of $1.5 billion for MGM. Lionsgate (LGF), one of the most promising bidders, withdrew from the race, saying it could not up its bid from between $1.3 billion and $1.4 billion. And most recently, Relativity Media offered $500 million in funding as part of plan to keep the studio independent.
There isn't a long history of directors that have gone on to make great CEOs or studio heads, but it's not unprecedented. United Artists, for example, was started by Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, D.W. Griffith and Douglas Fairbanks in 1919. Today, United Artists is run by actor Tom Cruise and his production partner Paula Wagner.
And if Ridley Scott's track record of directing profitable films means anything, he might be a good man for the job. Some of Scott's most profitable pictures include "Hannibal," which was made for roughly $87 million and grossed more than $165 million in the U.S. alone. Ridley also made "Alien," the 1979 classic, for just $11 million. It went on to gross nearly $79 million domestically. Of course, he's got quite a few flops under his belt, too, including "A Good Year," starring Russell Crow, which was made for $35 million and grossed nearly $7.5 million in the U.S. box office.
MGM's most valuable assets, on the other hand, include its TV programs and film franchises, such as the James Bond films -- a franchise that generates an estimated between $20 million and $50 million in profits per year.