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MGM buys back United Artists, adds Peter Liguori to board

March 22, 2012 | 11:30 am

PaulaWagner and Tom Cruise

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer has bought back full control of its historic film label United Artists, the independent studio revealed in financial results reported this week. It also disclosed for the first time that television industry veteran Peter Liguori has joined its board of directors.

Formed in 1919 by a group of film luminaries including Charlie Chaplin and Mary Pickford, UA became part of MGM in 1981. In 2006, UA became a joint venture between MGM, Tom Cruise and his producing partner Paula Wagner, who together got 30% of the company. The new UA released only two movies, "Lions for Lambs" and "Valkyrie," before Wagner departed as chief executive in 2008, leaving the venture in limbo.

But MGM said in its 2011 financial results that it now owns a 100% interest in UA and it has bought back "Lambs" and "Valkyrie," as well as two later films financed by UA: "Hot Tub Time Machine" and "Fame."

The company also said it "may resume using the United Artists banner to develop and produce new films."

After former Pixar executive Ann Mather was named MGM's lead director in December 2010, former NBC executive Jeff Gaspin was expected to be named to the ninth and final spot on the company's board. Instead, MGM quietly tapped Ligouri, who was most recently chief operating officer of Discovery Communications and previously was a senior executive at the Fox network, for the spot.

An MGM spokeswoman did not respond to a question about when Ligouri joined the board.

In addtion to Mather, others on MGM's board of directors include former CBS Chief Financial Officer Fredric Reynolds, former MySpace Co-President Jason Hirschhorn, co-CEOs Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum and representatives of the three investment funds with the largest stakes in the studio.

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-- Ben Fritz

Photo: Paula Wagner and Tom Cruise. Credit: Jasin Boland

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