MGM Holdings, in its first call with analysts today following the sudden and unexpected ouster of MGM chairman/CEO Gary Barber last week, said the company is being led by a management team through a newly created “Office of the CEO.”
Recently installed Chief Operating Officer Chris Brearton said this group of senior leaders is “fully committed” to the company’s mission and its success, and pointedly thanked the board for the confidence it placed in senior management.
The group will lead the company until a permanent CEO is found. There is no timeline for the search.
The COO sought to reassure partners that the company is well-positioned for growth, with its acquisition of EPIX, the re-launch of Orion Pictures and its re-entry into theatrical distribution with a “robust and diversified film slate.”
“While I recently joined MGM as COO I’ve worked closely with the company for two decades,” Brearton said. “I’m thrilled to capitalize on growth ahead.”
Barber had been at the helm since getting the studio out of bankruptcy in 2010. Sources told Deadline last week that the reason for Barber’s firing really came down to a disagreement on the direction of the company between chairman of the board Kevin Ulrich and the MGM exec. Ulrich, we were told, did not want a sale and Barber thought it would be good to entertain offers for one. A spokesman for MGM Holdings noted that the decision to push Barber out was made by the full board and was unanimous.
Ulrich’s New York investment firm Anchorage Capital Group is the largest owner of MGM with a 34% stake, which came when their debt was turned to equity during the 2010 bankruptcy.
News of Barber’s departure was shocking and employees across divisions were upset over it. It also came as the studio was putting together another film from its most important IP: James Bond.
Also today, MGM Holdings released its year-end financial results. The company reported revenue of $1.3 billion, up 10% from a year ago. Adjusted earnings of $422.9 million grew 5% from a year ago’s earnings of $401.1 million. The results were bolstered by such popular television shows as the Emmy-winning Hulu series The Handmaid’s Tale, the History channel series Vikings, The FX show Fargo and NBC’s The Voice. Overall, television licensing revenue for 2017 was up 38% to $333.5 million, an increase of $91.6 million from a year earlier.
Theatrical revenue was a mere $13.4 million for the year. Most of MGM’s film revenue came from television licensing, which brought in $464.2 million. That figure was down $56.2 million from a year ago, when the studio sold international pay TV rights to The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.