The filing follows last week's vote by creditors to put founders of Spyglass Entertainment at the company's helm, dealing a blow to Lions Gate Entertainment's merger proposal.
The "pre-packaged" plan would allow MGM's secured lenders including Credit Suisse and JP Morgan Chase to swap more than $4 billion (2.5bn) of debt for most of the equity in a reorganised company.
MGM controls the James Bond franchise, and has produced or released many of Hollywood's best-known films, including The Wizard of Oz.
In a statement, MGM said it expected a federal bankruptcy judge to approve the restructuring in about 30 days.
Carl Icahn, the billionaire investor and a major MGM debtholder, said he supported the studio's bankruptcy filing.
The company has struggled with debt since 2005 when it was sold in a $2.85 billion leveraged buyout.