HOLLYWOOD — One of Hollywood’s most iconic studios has gotten a facelift, replacing its familiar roaring lion logo with a new feline face.
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer has used “Leo the Lion” as its mascot since the early 20th century merger between three production houses that vaulted the new company into Hollywood’s “big five” studios.
Now 97 years later, Leo has been replaced by a tiger — a Buddinese tiger, to be exact.
“While Leo has served us well for almost a century and audiences have come to love his iconic roar, we felt it was time for something more modern, more hip, to connect with younger audiences,” studio head Marcus Mayer told Variety. “When someone floated Buddy’s name during a brainstorming session with our PR people, it seemed like a no-brainer.”
While Leo’s roar was actually sampled from a tiger and overdubbed in sync with the lion opening his mouth — a little-known piece of cinema trivia — the new logo and title card will feature both Buddy the Cat’s famous likeness as well as his blood-curdling roar.
“The first time I heard Buddy’s roar, I got goosebumps and I almost shat myself,” admitted sound man Mark Mangini, who created the 1980s update of the MGM logo and the 2001 rebrand featuring Buddy. “I knew we had to convey that kind of power and ferocity for our brand by associating it with Buddy.”
Neither MGM nor Buddy’s representatives would comment on compensation for the world famous tabby cat, but a source close to the deal said it was worth “in the seven figures of wet food cans,” presumably all or most of it turkey, the ferocious cat’s preferred meal and currency. The deal would vault Buddy into the top 50 most wealthy cats in the world, with the majority of his wealth held in turkey-related assets.
Movie-going audiences are expected to see Buddy again late this summer with the highly-anticipated release of “Cat On Deck: A Little Buddy’s Bravery,” about a British ship’s cat named Simon who rallied the crew of the HMS Amethyst in 1949 after it was nearly sunk by a volley from a Chinese Liberation Army gun battery.