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On Wednesday we told you about MGM’s plan to auction off its assets including a 4,000-title library, iconic roaring lion logo and the rights to the James Bond franchise. Well, it looks like the plan has been put into action and the search for a buyer is officially underway.

MGM (via Variety) released a statement announcing that they “are beginning a process to explore various strategic alternatives including operating as a stand-alone entity, forming partnerships and evaluating potential sale of the company." MGM debtholders granted the studio an extension on back payments until January 31st, 2010. This marks the second respite in recent months, the first of which allowed MGM to wait until December 15th to make due on three interest payments. The MGM statement explained, "the lenders took this action in support of the company's ongoing efforts to develop and evaluate long-term strategic alternatives to maximize value for its stakeholders." The lenders must think highly of MGM’s 2010 slate, because they’re forgoing the debts, for the time being, so the studio can pump whatever finances it has into completing Hot Tub Time Machine, Red Dawn and The Zookeeper.

Possible buyers include Time Warner, which already has arrangements to co-produce both Hobbit films with MGM; News Corp, which is the home of MGM’s home entertainment distributor; 20th Century Fox and Lionsgate.

While it would be easy to blame the financial troubles on MGM’s sole 2009 release, Fame, much of the studio’s troubles come from the dying DVD market. According to the AP, back in 2007 MGM took in a whopping $558 million thanks to its library, but since, DVD sales have dissipated and so has MGM’s income. It’s a shame to see a legendary company go under, but the demise is inevitable. Let’s just hope its assets, particularly promising upcoming productions and renowned franchises, find a good home.

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