Gary Barber forced out as head of MGM

Boardroom coup at MGM sees CEO pushed out due to reported split over strategy.

Knives were out at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer on Monday night when the board forced out CEO Gary Barber.

Barber’s removal is reported to be completely unexpected and caused shock waves throughout the industry. He is widely credited with MGM’s successful turnaround after emerging from bankruptcy in 2010. Only October last year his contract was extended until 2022.

The move came after a reported difference of opinion over the studio’s strategy between Barber and Kevin Ulrich. The latter is chairman and CEO of Anchorage Capital Group, the studio’s majority share holder.

One reason given for the split is that while Barber wanted to find a buyer for MGM, Ulrich wants to continue to manage the studio. Given that Barber is a movie man and Ulrich’s background is in private equity you might be forgiven for thinking those points of view would be reversed.

Talks were ongoing in 2017 to sell MGM to a Chinese buyer, but ultimately that deal fell through. Apple and Amazon were also said to be vying against Warners for international distribution for Bond 25. But Barber seems to have made enemies along the way:

… a rift had also developed between him and 007 producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson. “There was a revolt,” says an insider who claims the Broccoli camp ultimately refused to work with Barber.

Quite where this leaves Bond 25 is anyone’s guess, but it is bound to have some kind of impact, positive or negative.

Did a rift between Barber and Eon delay inking an international distributor, thereby accelerating the CEO’s demise?

And did deals with Apple and Amazon not come to fruition because of the differing views in the boardroom? While the board wanted to launch a streaming service, Barber was reluctant to take on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime.

We’ll just have to watch this space and see how events unfold.

Source: Hollywood Reporter


David Leigh founded The James Bond Dossier in 2002. A fan of 007 since the age of 8, he is also author of The Complete Guide to the Drinks of James Bond. You can order a copy here if you don't own it already.

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