Dropping no hints about sales talks or the identity of the nextJames Bond actor, MGM announced second quarter results that revealed adrastically reduced net loss and $33.6m in net cash from operating activities.
Second quarter revenues fell from $487.7m for the sameperiod last year to $406.1m.Second quarter 2003 results were boosted by $140.1m in home entertainmentrevenues from Die Another Day, thecompany's most successful home entertainment release ever.
MGMreported a net loss of $19.7m, or 8 cents a share, against a net loss of$133.6m, or 55 cents a share, for the year-ago period. The 2003 second quarterresults included a loss of $93.1m, or 38 cents a share, due to the sale ofthree Rainbow Media networks.
Operating highlights include MGM's Walking Tall and UA's Saved! both of which opened in the second quarter and are expected to becomeprofitable, and an 11% increase in worldwide DVD shipments to 34 million discssold.
MGM vice-chairman and chief operating officer Chris McGurk toldanalysts that the company and EON were developing the 21st as yet unnamed JamesBond project, which was on course to open in November 2005.
He said the script was complete, a director was being hired andcasting would follow. Earlier this week Pierce Brosnan, who has served out hiscontract by playing 007 four times, said in an interview that he no longerwanted to play the role. Jude Law is among the favourites to take the role,with Clive Owen among the other names that have been bandied in the media.
MGM, one of the fewpure-play film companies in the US that are publicly quoted, saw itsshare-price hold steady at around $12.10 today, giving it a marketcapitalization of $2.87bn.
Both Time Warner and Sony -whose own movie divisions also enjoyed buoyant financial quarters according toresults posted yesterday - have made recent overtures to buy the fabled studio,offering around $3bn plus the assumption of $2bn in debt. Both conglomerateshave indicated that they are interested only in the MGM library, and would shutdown all production activities bar the Bond films should their takeover bidsprove successful.