MGM has been plagued by financial woes for much of their long and illustrious career, but their most recent crisis could end up costing them two of their biggest titles. Nikke Finke of Deadline Hollywood Daily is breathlessly reporting that the studio is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy with over $3.5 billion in debt. MGM held a very long conference call with their creditors, pleading with themto waive their interest payments until February 2010, and allow them the cash they need for the rest of the year, particularly to fund its upcoming slate of films. Naturally, some of those are highly anticipated, such as Robocop, The Hobbit, and the latest James Bond installment.

However, MGM's creditors aren't feeling particularly charitable, and may force the studio to file for bankruptcy. If that happens, they could lose James Bond, The Hobbit, and numerous other franchises as MGM would have to sell them to the highest bidder. Right now, they're trying to convince their Scrooges that bankruptcy is the worst possible option, and that Bond and Bilbo are big enough moneymakers to cover their debt. That's where the situation stands now, and it'll certainly be quite the economic spectacle to watch.

I find the news particularly interesting in light of Peter Jackson's remarks on The Hobbit at ComicCon, when he squashed rumors that the film was in the casting stages, and noted that it hadn't even really been green-lit or had its budget approved yet. It was a douse of cold water after a lot of breathless excitement, much of which seemed to come straight from the filmmakers themselves. Could the brakes have been put on because of MGM's financial woes? Possibly.

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It also could be why all Robocop rumors have ceased. When Darren Aronofsky chose Black Swan as his next project, it seemed to be the unconfirmed death knell for his involvement with the reboot. Again, I have to stress that nothing was ever made official and he could film it after Swan, but there was a curious lack of progress on something that had sparked a lot of excitement and promise.

In the end, who owns what rights really (and sadly) matters more to MGM and its employees than it matters to the fans of these properties. If the studio was forced to sell off Bond or The Hobbit, no one that picked them up would be foolish enough to dump Daniel Craig, Peter Jackson, or Guillermo Del Toro without cutting their own throats altogether. In fact, if The Hobbit landed at a fantasy friendly studio like Warner Bros, the results could be quite wonderful. (All right, there's one studio that shall remain nameless that could, shall we say, micromanage any of these properties into incoherence.) But the legal shennanigans would probably delay the films longer than any of us want to wait, cause a lot of ugliness, and put a lot of people out of work. So, let's wish the best of luck to MGM and hope they see some glory days again.