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Private equity giant Blackstone Group just booked a blockbuster double-feature of moves in the movie industry.
Across the pond, the group will be building a massive film studio in the just-north-of-London town of Hertfordshire. Meanwhile, in Hollywood, Blackstone finalized terms to purchase Hello Sunshine, the female-centric production company co-founded by Reese Witherspoon.
Together with its partners, Blackstone hopes to build an independent powerhouse for Hollywood's new streaming era.
Lights, Camera, Acquisition
With content-hungry streaming services launching seemingly weekly and COVID throwing shoot schedules into disarray across the world, the film production pipeline has grown increasingly clogged. Blackstone hopes to take advantage of the shortage in production capacity with some swanky new studio space and a distinguished creative development team:
- In conjunction with partner Hudson Pacific Properties and via subsidiary Sunset Studios, Blackstone bought a 91-acre UK lot for nearly $167 million. The group will invest upwards of $974 million in building a filming space to lease to production companies churning out content.
- Blackstone is also dispensing roughly $900 million for Witherspoon's production company, which is responsible in part for a trio of prestige TV smash hits; HBO's Big Little Lies, Hulu's Little Fires Everywhere, and Apple TV Plus's The Morning Show.
Blackstone has apparently taken to heart the iconic "bend and snap" quote from Witherspoon's hit comedy Legally Blonde...in this case bending over backward to snap up avenues to content production.
Coming Attractions: According to The Wall Street Journal, Blackstone — run by former Disney execs Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs — isn't done scoping for content factories. One production house reportedly in their view-finder is Westbrook Inc, the media company co-founded by Jada Pinkett-Smith and Will Smith. And Blackstone offers a perk that major studios with vested streaming interests can't match: the freedom and ability to license programs to any studio, streamer, or network.