Metro Goldwyn Mayer spent over sixty years at the sprawling M-G-M studios in Culver City, ruling the industry as the most powerful movie studio on earth. Financial problems in the 1980's, however, forced M-G-M to finally vacate their historic studio, and that famous old Culver City lot is now owned by Sony Entertainment (a.k.a. Columbia and TriStar Pictures).
After a lengthy series of financial setbacks, M-G-M, a mere shadow of its former self, finally resettled in sunny Santa Monica, where it now occupies a modern office complex called "M-G-M Plaza." It's 1,000,000 square feet, but their new home seems insignificant when compared with their original kingdom in Culver City.
The new M-G-M Plaza occupies an entire city block, but there are no actual studio facilities at this new Santa Monica location. M-G-M is no longer a real studio, in the classic sense of the word. It has no back lot, sound stages, or production facilities. When M-G-M wants to make a movie, it rents space at another studio. What M-G-M does do, though, is continue to come up with financing and produce about 10-12 movies a year (less than half of what most other studios grind out). And it owns certain bankable franchises such as the James Bond series.
Members of the public are free to stroll around here, but there's not much for tourists to see - just a modern, outdoor office complex.
there are a few photo opportunities. You will find handsome, golden
logos of a roaring "Leo the Lion," the M-G-M studio trademark,
arching overhead above each corner entrance to the complex. You may notice
that the patio café, in the center of the complex, has a fountain
shaped like a giant water pitcher.
On the way to Santa Monica, M-G-M absorbed United Artist Pictures, and changed its name to MGM/UA. In recent years, the financially troubled studio hadn't been a major player on the studio scene, concentrating instead on building the world's largest casino in Las Vegas, Nevada: the M-G-M Grand (which even offers a Wizard of Oz amusement park).
They were let down with such recent efforts as "Showgirls" and "Hackers," but 1995 gave the studio a series of major hits such as John Travolta's "Get Shorty," the sci-fi horror film "Species," the critically acclaimed "Leaving Las Vegas," and the 007 thriller, "Goldeneye."
1996 releases included "The Birdcage," "Mulholland Falls," ""Kingpin" and "Marshal Law." 1997 was a dry year, but in 1998 M-G-M gave us the 007 hit, "Tomorrow Never Dies."
On TV, they produced series such as "The
Outer Limits" and "Fame L.A." (which didn't last
long.) Yet M-G-M hadn't shown a profit since 1988. In 1996, it lost a staggering
After years of corporate takeovers and financial defaults, though, M-G-M seems to have managed to turn things around and once again shows signs of becoming a substantial competitor.
Other films they released in 1999 included "At First Sight," with Val Kilmer and Kelly McGillis, "Molly," (with Elisabeth Shue), the horror film "Stigmata" and the less-than-successful remake of "The Mod Squad."
In 2000, they gave us "Autumn in New York" (with Richard Gere & Winona Ryder), "Return to Me" (with David Duchovny & Minnie Driver), "Supernova" and "Stigmata."
But in 2001, M-G-M finally hit pay dirt with "Hannibal," (the gory sequel to "Silence of the Lambs" starring Anthony Hopkins), which raked in $165 million domestically, plus "Legally Blonde," (with Reese Witherspoon) and "Original Sin" (with Antonio Banderas & Angelina Jolie). Other 2001 films from M-G-M included "Heartbreakers" (with Sigourney Weaver & Jennifer Love Hewitt), "Antitrust" (with Ryan Phillippe & Tim Robbins), "What's the Worst That Could Happen?" (with Martin Lawrence & Danny DeVito), "Jeepers Creepers," and "Bandits"
2002 wasn't such a good year. First, there was the critically-panned remake of of "Rollerball," then two less-than-successful war movies: "Windtalkers," with Nicolas Cage and "Hart's War" with Bruce Willis. But "Barbershop" got good reviews and the new James Bond (007) movie, "Die Another Day" (with Halle Berry joining Pierce Brosnan) was a huge success - estimates are that it will make around $450 million worldwide. Other 2002 releases include a notable flop, "Pumpkin" (with Christina Ricci), as well as "Igby Goes Down," "CQ" and "Crocodile Hunter."
2003 saw a surprise hit in "Agent Cody Banks", starring Frankie Muniz, setting up a possible franchise, and a hit sequel, "Legally Blonde 2". Other efforts, such as "Good Boy" and "Uptown Girls" weren't quite as successful, and Denzel Washington's "Out of Time" actually lost money. But DVD sales were particularly profitable for the studio.
In late 2004, MGM was bought by Sony Studios (which
also owns Columbia and TriStar), who were mainly interested in MGM's film
library. Word is that MGM will continue to operate
as a private company (which the Sony will own), and will continue to put
out several films a year, with Sony co-producing and co-financing.
Getting there: M-G-M's new headquarters is about two miles inland from the beach in Santa Monica. It takes up an entire block, bounded by Broadway (to the north), Colorado Avenue (on the south), Cloverfield Boulevard (to the west), and 26th Street (to the east). / From the Santa Monica (10) Freeway west, take the Cloverfield exit, turn right, and go three blocks north to Colorado.
[To learn more about this subject, you can access the official MGM/UA website at: http://www.mgmua.com.]
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