Hasbro Looking to Sell eOne After Buying Media Company for $3.8 Billion in 2019

Hasbro Nov. 17 announced it is looking to unload Entertainment One (eOne), the Canadian-based television and movie studio/distributor it acquired in 2019 for $3.8 billion.

The decision comes as new CEO Chris Cocks (who replaced former CEO Brian Goldner after his passing from cancer) launched an internal strategic review process, which, along with the board of directors, authorized a sale process for the part of its eOne TV and film business not directly supporting Hasbro’s content strategy.

Hasbro reported any sale would not impact its capability to develop and produce animation, digital shorts, scripted TV and theatrical films for audiences related to core Hasbro IP.

What is included in any sale would be eOne’s 6,500-plus title content library; the non-Hasbro branded film and scripted TV business, which produces and finances content, including recent theatrical release The Woman King, Showtime’s “Yellowjackets” and ABC TV’s “The Rookie” franchise; Hasbro’s interest in Entertainment One Canada Limited’s Canadian film and TV business; and Hasbro’s unscripted division that includes the “Naked & Afraid” franchise, among others.

“The acquisition of eOne delivered fantastic talent, top tier production and deal making capability and beloved brands with strong toyetic potential including Peppa Pig,” Cocks said in a statement. “We will retain these terrific capabilities while exploring the best way to maximize the value of the eOne TV and film business for the benefit of our shareholders.”

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Indeed, any potential sale might mirror recent media asset deals conducted by AT&T, which spun off minority stakes with majority operational control of the former WarnerMedia (now Warner Bros. Discovery) and DirecTV.

Meanwhile, Hasbro plans to significantly increase strategic investment in key brands, with a focus on gaming, direct to consumer, franchise brands and licensing. Those include “Peppa Pig,” “Transformers,” “Dungeons & Dragons,” “Magic: The Gathering,” “My Little Pony,” “Power Rangers,” “Play-Doh” and Hasbro’s portfolio of board games, including “Monopoly” and “Clue.”

The company plans to maintain development, production and financing capabilities to support its core brands across film, TV, animation and digital shorts. These projects include the development of new IP such as the recently announced “Kiya and the Kimoja Heroes” that is scheduled to premiere on Disney Junior and Disney+ in 2023.

The company has retained J.P. Morgan and Centerview Partners to assist with the sale process.

Hasbro Q2 Entertainment Revenue Declines Due to TV Series, Movie Delivery Schedules

Hasbro July 19 said second-quarter (ended June 26) entertainment business segment revenue decreased 18% to $185.2 million, from $226.7 million in the previous-year period. The segment’s revenue is largely based on Canadian-based movie and TV show producer/distributor Entertainment One, which Hasbro acquired for $3.8 billion in 2019.

In addition to the $5.4 million impact of foreign exchange and excluding $33.4 million of revenue from the music business that was sold at the beginning of the third quarter last year, entertainment segment revenue declined 4%.

Film & TV series revenue declined 10%, primarily related to the delivery of the first season of scripted TV series “Cruel Summer” to Hulu in the second quarter of 2021. Delivery of “The Rookie” season four (ABC, Hulu) partially offset this decline, as did growth in film revenue and unscripted TV revenue in the quarter.

Hasbro expects third-quarter (ending Sept. 28) TV series deliveries to include “Cruel Summer” season two, the first episodes for “The Rookie: Feds,” and episodes of “The Rookie” season five.

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Episode deliveries of “Fear The Walking Dead” (Hulu) and “Yellowjackets” (Showtime) are both expected to be more significant in the fourth quarter of 2022 versus the third quarter last year.

Hasbro plans to deliver 32 half-hours of scripted TV versus 28 in the previous third quarter. Third-quarter 2021 included movies Finch and Come From Away direct to streaming services, with the majority of revenue recorded in the quarter. Movies planned for third-quarter 2022 are slated for theatrical release, which will result in revenues being recognized over a longer period.

Family Brands revenue declined $3.3 million from the negative impact of foreign exchange as well as the timing of deliveries and lower YouTube revenue. Second-half 2022 deliveries are expected to include “Peppa Pig” and “PJ Masks” to SVOD platforms in China as well as deliveries of “My Little Pony: Make Your Mark” and “Power Rangers Dino Fury” to Netflix.

Third-quarter 2021 included the delivery of the My Little Pony: A New Generation movie to Netflix. There is no comparable film expected to be delivered in the third quarter of 2022. Film & TV and Family Brands revenue up 2% year-to-date, respectively.

Entertainment’s pre-tax operating profit increased more than 100% to $24.2 million, from $6.2 million last year. Newly acquired titles delivered better profit than the prior year, amortization declined on lower deliveries year-over-year and expenses were down.

“Excluding the 2021 results from the music business, for the full-year, on a constant currency basis, we continue to expect underlying [Entertainment] revenue growth in the mid-single digits and adjusted operating profit margin to outpace revenue growth and deliver margin expansion,” CEO Chris Cocks said in a statement.

Imax Board Appoints New Chairman, Member

The board of directors of Imax Corp. has elected longstanding board member Darren Throop — founder, CEO and president of Entertainment One (eOne) — its chairman.

At its annual and special meeting of shareholders June 9, Imax shareholders also elected Steve Pamon, former president and chief operating officer of Beyoncé’s Parkwood Entertainment, to join the Board.

Both appointments are effective immediately.

“Darren has been a strong, influential leader on the IMAX Board, expanding on his brilliant career in building eOne into a global content force from the ground up,” Rich Gelfond, CEO of Imax, said in a statement. “Darren’s expertise in maximizing the value of global brands, scaling businesses and navigating the evolving content landscape will continue to be instrumental to our growth strategy.

“Steve is a seasoned and versatile business leader with a track record of entrepreneurship and innovation in entertainment throughout his successful career. Steve’s expertise at the intersection of entertainment, technology, and cutting-edge consumer experiences will be important to Imax as we seek to grow and create new opportunities for our global brand.”

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“I’m so pleased to take on this role and continue working alongside Rich, the Imax leadership team and my fellow Board members to drive the business forward, especially as we enter a new era of the moviegoing experience,” Throop said in a statement. “Imax’s commitment to innovative technology is unmatched, and I’m excited to help steer their growth strategy as they continue to bring awe-inspiring, immersive experiences to audiences around the world.”

“From my teenage years working at the Ominmax Theatre in Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry, I have dreamed of playing a role in the transformative experience of an Imax presentation,” Pamon said in a statement. “Joining the Board of Directors of Imax is more than an appointment; it is a dream come true.”

An Imax director since June 2015, Throop founded eOne — an international entertainment company specializing in the acquisition, production and distribution of film and TV content — and has served as its president and CEO since 2003. Throop will continue to serve as a member of Imax’s compensation committee. Most recently, Throop engineered the $3.8 billion sale of eOne to Hasbro in 2019.

At Parkwood Entertainment, Pamon was the architect of the successful “On the Run” tour and was awarded both a Grammy Award for Homecoming and a Peabody Award for the visual album Lemonade as executive producer. Prior to joining Parkwood, he held executive positions at JPMorgan Chase & Co., the NFL and HBO. Pamon also sits on the board of World Wresting Entertainment, the board of New York Road Runners — a nonprofit organization that produces more than 100 sports events each year including the famed New York City Marathon — and is a founding advisory board member for the “Launch with GS” fund, Goldman Sachs’ $500 million dollar investment fund that aims to increase access to capital and connections for diverse entrepreneurs.

‘1917’ Back Atop U.K. Home Video Chart

Entertainment One’s 1917 returned to the No. 1 spot on the Official Film Chart following its release on DVD, Blu-ray and 4K UHD. The three-time Oscar-winning World War I movie from Universal Pictures and director Sam Mendes sold 146,000 DVD/Blu-ray Disc units for the week ended May 27, knocking last week’s chart-topper Bad Boys For Life from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment down to No. 2.

Disney/Pixar’s Onward maintained  the third spot while Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker climbed two places to No. 4. Little Women (Sony Pictures) dropped one spot to No. 5.

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Disney’s The Call of the Wild entered the chart in sixth. The Harrison Ford-starring reboot about a dog named Buck whose life is uprooted when he is removed from his home and ends up in the wilds of the Alaskan Yukon during the 1890s Gold Rush, was released on disc in the United States on May 12 by Disney/Fox.

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Universal Pictures Home Entertainment’s Cats debuted at No. 7 featuring Taylor Swift, James Corden, Jason Derulo and Dame Judi Dench as a tribe of cats, with one of them ascending for yearly reincarnation.

Finally, Disney’s Frozen II (8), Sony Pictures’ Jumanji: The Next Level (9) and Dinesy/Fox’s Jojo Rabbit (10) remained in the Top 10 for another week.

Entertainment One Inks Deal With Former Marvel Exec Jeremy Latcham

Entertainment One has entered into a first-look agreement with producer and former Marvel Studios executive Jeremy Latcham.

Hasbro recently acquired eOne.

The first project announced under the deal is a film for “Dungeons & Dragons,” which is managed by Wizards of the Coast, a Hasbro subsidiary that also manages “Magic: The Gathering.” Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley are attached to write and direct the film, which is co-produced by eOne, Hasbro’s global entertainment studio, and Paramount. This film marks the first project for eOne with Paramount since eOne’s acquisition by Hasbro.

“Jeremy is a massively talented producer with a track record of creating true-to-brand films with size and scope that resonate with audiences and excel on a global scale,” Nick Meyer, eOne president of film, said in a statement. “In our exciting new era with Hasbro, we’re thrilled to begin this new partnership and look forward to sharing the amazing projects that are to come.”

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“Nick and the entire eOne team have welcomed me into the fold with open arms,” Latcham said in a statement. “Hasbro’s incredibly rich library of beloved brands in addition to the opportunity to develop original material makes for a very exciting next step for me as a creative producer. My passion for telling stories steeped in heart, humor and spectacle aligns with D&D’s decades of immersive, adventure-driven storytelling, and I am beyond excited to help John and Jonathan, eOne, Paramount, and Wizards of the Coast bring this rich world to filmgoing audiences.”

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Latcham most recently produced 2018’s Bad Times at the El Royale. Previously, Latcham spent 13 years at Marvel Studios, where he executive produced Spider-Man: Homecoming, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Guardians of the Galaxy and The Avengers. Latcham was the associate producer on Iron Man and co-producer on Iron Man 2.

Hasbro’s additional film properties include the “Transformers” and “G.I. Joe” film franchises.

Universal Inks Home Entertainment Distribution Deal with Entertainment One

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment has signed a multiyear, multi-territory distribution deal to serve as the home entertainment distributor of Entertainment One’s titles across both transactional physical and digital formats.

The pact covers film, television and select family content and includes all sales, marketing and distribution, spanning the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, Australia and New Zealand.

“This new global partnership with Universal builds on our shared commitment to bring compelling content to audiences around the world,” said Steve Bertram, eOne president, film and television, in a statement. “Our recent and upcoming collaborations on titles from eOne partners MAKEREADY, DreamWorks Pictures and Participant Media underscore the strong foundation for our growing relationship. As eOne continues to expand its focus on producing and financing premium film and television properties, we are very excited to partner with UPHE whose expertise, scale and deep customer relationships have made them market leaders year after year.”

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“UPHE is very pleased to become eOne’s home entertainment distributor in territories around the world,” said Eddie Cunningham, president, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, in a statement. “We are delighted to add eOne’s premier entertainment portfolio to UPHE’s global distribution organization and look forward to working with our physical and digital retail partners to drive this business forward.”

The agreement complements the existing theatrical marketing and distribution partnership between eOne and Universal Pictures International announced earlier this year for the Australian and New Zealand markets. UPHE will also begin to market and distribute eOne’s catalog of new and existing properties in Australia in May, beginning with the Academy Award Best Picture winner Green Book.

Video Vet Dan Gurlitz Lands at MVD

Dan Gurlitz, a veteran of the home video industry, has joined MVD Entertainment Group in digital sales and documentary acquisitions.

With 35 years of experience in film distribution, Gurlitz previously held executive positions for such companies as Entertainment One U.S., The Disinformation Company and Wellspring Media/Fox Lorber Associates. He is also the founder of Soundview Media Partners, a boutique firm he launched in 2010 to work with independent filmmakers, establish distribution of their films and represent their educational and non-theatrical licensing.

“With Dan’s longstanding passion for independent film, specifically documentaries, we know he will contribute immensely to our organization,” said Rob Hyman, digital director of MVD.

“I have held MVD in the highest regard for many years and have been impressed by the smoothness of their operation and the growth they have experienced and continue to experience,” Gurlitz said. “I could not be more excited about joining their team and playing a positive role in their future.”

MVD Entertainment Group is a music and movie distribution firm, exclusively representing thousands of audio and visual products on DVD, Blu-ray Disc, CD, vinyl, and digital, worldwide. MVD also exclusively distributes a growing line of merchandise including limited edition collectibles, T-shirts, and more.

Entertainment One Appoints Mark Gordon President and Chief Content Officer

Independent studio Entertainment One has appointed Mark Gordon president and chief content officer, film, television and digital, and has agreed to acquire the remaining 49% of The Mark Gordon Co. for $209 million subject to shareholder approval.

In this newly-created role, Gordon will lead the company’s creative units.

Steve Bertram was also appointed president, film, television and digital. In his new role, Bertram will oversee all commercial and distribution operations.

Gordon and Bertram will drive the growth of eOne’s content groups and distribution platforms, accelerating its strategy to increase the volume of premium content, according to the company.

“Mark Gordon is one of the industry’s most accomplished film and television producers with a long track-record of success and commitment to putting talent first. Mark’s leadership over content creation across eOne underscores our vision to be the preeminent platform-agnostic content company in the world,” said Darren Throop, eOne CEO, in a statement. “Today’s transaction signals that we are focused on investing heavily in the best creative talent. This is where Mark shines and what we know he’ll continue to do well into the future with eOne and all of our resources fully behind him.”

“Darren’s commitment to support our vision gives me confidence that we will achieve the quality and volume of premium content on a much broader scale both domestically and internationally,” said Gordon, in a statement. “Ultimately, it is the creative partnerships with producers, writers, directors and actors that will bring us success. It is our mission to provide them the opportunity to tell great stories and to be financially rewarded for their work.”

“Mark’s unwavering support of creative talent and relentless pursuit of the highest quality content have been the foundation of his success,” added Bertram, in a statement. “His creative instincts, deep relationships, and unique understanding of the content audiences crave, have supercharged our business over the past three years. I couldn’t be more excited to unleash that power across eOne, and to leverage eOne’s global resources to extend Mark’s talent-friendly approach.”

Entertainment One acquired 51% of The Mark Gordon Co. in January 2015. Since then, the two companies have collaborated to establish an independent studio, producing and financing film, network, cable, and digital premium content, distributed by eOne around the world. Most recently, under Gordon’s leadership, MGC has produced feature films such as Murder on the Orient Express; the Golden Globe and Academy Award nominated Molly’s Game; and the upcoming The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. He has also led the company in producing television series such as “Designated Survivor” and “The Rookie.”

John Morayniss, who led eOne’s television business since its inception in 2008, has decided to step down, but will remain with the company to help facilitate a smooth transition, according to eOne.

“I want to recognize John, whose focus, innovative deal-making and charismatic leadership of our television business over so many years has helped make us the global force we are today. John’s relationships across the industry resulted in exponential growth across eOne’s television business in Canada and around the globe, and he leaves us with incredible momentum. I’m thankful for his continuing support through the transition,” Throop said in a statement.