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MGM chairman predicts $1 trillion investment worldwide on new media platforms

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MUMBAI: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. (MGM) chairman and CEO Harry Sloan, in delivering a keynote address to
delegates at the MIPCOM global television market at Cannes, predicted a $1 trillion investment worldwide in creating new media platforms.

Half of that figure, US $500 billion, will be invested in platform development in the US, with the other half divided between key global markets.

The advent of digital terrestrial, cable and satellite channels, as well as evolving broadband, wireless and telecom platforms is fuelling a growing global demand for content which, says Sloan, provides consumers with indefinable choice in what, when and how they will consume media content. In addition to driving demand for more content, the proliferation of new media exhibition platforms also increases the need for more exposure for new product while simultaneously requiring a stronger degree of influential marketing expertise, states an official release.

According to Sloan, Hollywood's MGM Studio is uniquely poised to meet both the growing demand for new product and support that product with its marketing expertise and its brand's longstanding relationship with both retailers and consumers.

Focusing on "regenerating and refreshing the MGM Library," the largest modern film and TV library in the world, will reduce the risk of development, which Sloan claims accounts for between $150 and $200 million in write-offs for each major Hollywood studio every year.

With stellar franchises like James Bond, the Pink Panther and Rocky, as well as the Terminator, the Hobbit and Thomas Crown in its arsenal of tentpole franchises, MGM's film development will focus on extending proven brands.

An increase in film development and production investments from Wall Street and financiers is resulting in a huge influx in independent production according to Sloan. And while independent producers excel in the creation of high quality filmed entertainment, Sloan says they often lack the marketing muscle and relationships with exhibitors to fully exploit their theatrical releases.

"Distribution, booking the 3,000 theatres and allocating $25 million in marketing, is what major studios do best," said Sloan. "We know how to get the attention of consumers and how to influence their entertainment decisions." Two critical elements in the new digital media world where consumers are inundated with entertainment choices, according to Sloan.

By partnering with independent producers, MGM can provide the studio's marketing expertise and global distribution clout needed to generate both consumer interest and theatre bookings, resulting in stronger box-office and sustained consumer interest when the films are made available on-demand, on DVD or through broadband distribution.

MGM is also forging partnerships with other media entities, reducing overhead and gleaning greater operating efficiencies. Recently announced arrangements include an agreement with Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment that provides a dedicated unit within Fox's operation to manage MGM's worldwide home entertainment rights in the global marketplace, the release adds.

This unique structure provides for a concentrated sales and licensing effort focused on the MGM home entertainment brand, encompassing MGM's increasing slate of new theatrical releases and direct-to-video projects as well as the more than 4,000 films and 10,000 episodes of television programming in its vast library. Fox also handles international distribution of MGM's theatrical releases.

MGM also announced a partnership with Apple's iTunes that will see its signature television series Stargate SG-1, which just celebrated its 200th episode, available for download.

Sloan said that while MGM's previous management "missed every technology change of the past 35 years" that impacted the entertainment industry; he foresees even greater change and opportunities coming to fruition over the next five years than the past 35 combined. In concluding his address Sloan stated: "MGM will never miss another opportunity."

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