Spyglass Entertainment has emerged as the leading contender to run Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc., said people familiar with the matter, as the beleaguered film studio races to restructure a roughly $4 billion debt load this summer.

Spyglass co-heads Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum would run the studio as co-chief executives under a plan being discussed with MGM's creditors, these people said. The talks are continuing, and no final decisions have been made, the people said. Summit Entertainment, the studio behind the "Twilight" vampire-film franchise, also has been in discussions with MGM and its creditors, and remains a candidate to run the company, they said.

Any deal would be executed in a "prepackaged" bankruptcy, in which a company lines up approval from many creditors in advance, with an eye toward spending less than two months in court proceedings. Under the restructuring plan, creditors would swap their debt for nearly all the equity in a restructured film studio. Spyglass executives would get a slice of that equity.

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