A long, long time ago – before streaming, before cable, before video and yes even before television, cinema ruled the screening world. And, sitting at the top was Leo the Lion; the mascot of Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM), the studios boasted of having ‘more stars than there are in heaven’
Their library today consists of 4000 film titles including iconic movies, ‘Gone With The Wind’, ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ and ‘The Wizard of Oz’, all the way to the James Bond franchise. Perhaps sadly, we all know what a changing world we live in – just take a quick look at the High Street - and the mighty MGM has alas been no stranger to the ‘slings and arrows of outrageous fortune’. It has fought off bankruptcy and is allegedly up for sale again - $5bn apparently will give you a step onto the Yellow Brick Road.
I am no astrologer but as one star falls, another rises. The new ‘Star’, which launches on 23rd February is the latest channel that Disney+ is adding to its streaming service, which already includes The Simpsons, Star Wars, Pixar and Marvel. Star is aimed at more mature, grown up audiences than the majority of consumers of Disney+ content. It will include a lot of shows from the American networks, ABC and Fox with titles including ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’, ‘Modern Family’ (guilty pleasure – I loved the first three or so series) ‘24’ and The X-Files.
Among its film titles is one of my favourites, ‘The French Connection’ starring of course the great Gene Hackman who won Best Actor for his portrayal of ‘Popeye’ Doyle. All of the above comes to our homes relatively cheaply at £5.99 per month – comparing favourably to a Netflix premium plan at £13.99 per month – which personally, I still consider great value.
Both Disney and MGM were founded around the same time – almost 100 years ago. However, Disney is looking a far healthier proposition than MGM, albeit it has experienced fallow times particularly in the 1970s - and has suffered severely in the past 12 months. Cruise ships and their parks were its highest earning divisions in 2019 and it is still paying out for three cruise liners under construction in Germany.
I shudder to think where Disney would be without Disney+, and I am pleased to see its Star continues to shine a light over all of us. I wish it well.