Sunday, January 23, 2022

Jada Pinkett Smith & Will Smith’s Westbrook Inc. Gets Minority Investment From Blackstone-Backed Firm Led By Kevin Mayer And Tom Staggs

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An funding agency backed by Blackstone and run by onetime Disney colleagues Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs has taken a minority stake in Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith’s Westbrook Inc.

The deal, confirmed to Deadline by an individual aware of the funding and later introduced formally, adopted discussions of a full acquisition of the corporate led by Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith. Westbrook has had a hand in movie and TV productions like King Richard, launched final 12 months by Warner Bros, in addition to Facebook discuss present Red Table Talk and quite a few extensively seen titles on Snapchat and different digital platforms. Upcoming tasks embody Bel-Air, a revamp of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air set to stream on Peacock, and Emancipation, a dramatic motion movie starring Will Smith that will likely be distributed by Apple TV+.

Financial phrases weren’t disclosed. It has been a vendor’s marketplace for anybody within the content material enterprise, with offers final 12 months for MGM and a bunch of smaller gamers whipping up curiosity in dozens of different candidates.

The stake is the most recent in a collection of aggressive strikes by Candle Media, the brand new agency launched final 12 months by Mayer and Staggs. The firm closed 2021 with the acquisition of Fauda producer Faraway Road, after earlier buying Moonbug Entertainment, which makes well-liked preschool reveals like CoComelon, in addition to Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine. The Moonbug deal was valued at $3 billion and Hello Sunshine at $900 million.

The Smiths launched Westbrook in 2019, together with Miguel Melendez and Ko Yada. The reconstituted firm encompassed Overbrook Entertainment, the manufacturing outfit named after a neighborhood in Will Smith’s native Philadelphia. Smith and James Lassiter based Overbrook in 1998. Film blockbusters like I Am Legend, Hitch and Hancock had been the unique mainstays of Overbrook, but it surely went on so as to add TV tasks just like the Karate Kid reboot Cobra Kai, a preferred title on Netflix.

In a joint assertion, Mayer and Staggs known as Westbrook “a home for world-class creators that is built for the digital age – which fully aligns with our company’s vision for the future of media. We are excited for what we can all achieve together with Blackstone in the years ahead.”

Joe Baratta, world head of personal fairness at Blackstone, and David Kestnbaum, a senior managing director at Blackstone, mentioned the corporate’s principals have “a deep firsthand understanding of today’s evolving entertainment content and social media environment – and how to create high-quality, engaging content that spans platforms, genres, and geographies. We look forward to helping accelerate the company’s growth as they continue to build a next-generation leader in global entertainment.”

The Smiths known as Westbrook “the realization of our dream to give artists from all backgrounds equal opportunities to pursue their creative visions and share their stories.”

The Information and The Wall Street Journal had the primary experiences of the Blackstone-backed funding in Westbrook.

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