Lionsgate Closes eOne Acquisition, Adds 6,500 Titles to Content Library

Lionsgate Dec. 27 announced the consummation of its $375 million acquisition of Entertainment One (eOne) from Hasbro, which includes the assumption of production financing loans. Hasbro acquired eOne in 2019 for $4 billion.

The deal adds 6,500 film and television titles to Lionsgate’s library, diversifies and strengthens its scripted and unscripted television businesses, while also extending its brands and franchises in Canada and the U.K.

Entertainment One produces ABC’s “The Rookie,” the critically-acclaimed Showtime series, “Yellowjackets,” in addition to the Discovery unscripted series, “Naked & Afraid.”  The transaction also includes film development rights to Hasbro’s Monopoly brand.

“The eOne acquisition concludes a busy year in which we continued to execute our strategy of strengthening our studio business as we prepare for the separation of Lionsgate and Starz into pure play standalone companies,” Jon Feltheimer, CEO of Lionsgate, said in a statement.  “Our analysis has reaffirmed our conviction that eOne will be a valuable and highly accretive addition to our business.”

Jefferies & Co., Sheppard Mullin and Denton’s Canada LLP advised Lionsgate on the transaction.

Dungeons & Dragons: Adventures FAST Channel Celebration

Nov. 13 eOne hosted a rooftop screening in Los Angeles to celebrate the launch of the Dungeons & Dragons: Adventures FAST channel. The channel launched the week of Nov. 13 with three new original series: “Faster, Purple Worm! Kill! Kill!,” streaming Thursdays and Saturdays at 6 p.m. (PST) and 9 p.m. (PST); “Encounter Party,” streaming Tuesdays and Fridays at 6 p.m. (PST) and 9 p.m. (PST); and “Heroes’ Feast,” streaming Mondays and Wednesdays at 6 p.m. (PST) and 9 p.m. (PST).

In attendance were “Faster Purple Worm! Kill! Kill!’s” co-creator Matthew Lillard; series host and executive producer Bill Rehor; executive producers Paul Shapiro, Charlie Rehor and Jon Ciccolini; and celebrity players Abraham Benrubi, Alicia Marie, Amy Vorpahl, David Dastmalchian, Deborah Ann Woll, Kailey Bray, Krystina Arielle, Luis Carazo, Mary Lou, Paula Deming, Todd Stashwick and Xander Jeanneret. Attendees from “Encounter Party”were executive producers and cast members Ned Donovan and Brian David Judkins who were joined by series regulars Andrew Krug, David Lee Huynh, Khary Payton, Landree Fleming and Sarah Babe. Also attending were “Heroes’ Feast” hosts “Chef Mike” Haracz and Sujata Day joined by series guests Anjali Bhimani, Noura Ibrahim, Ify Nwadiwe, Jared Logan, Kyle Newman and Michelle Nguyen Bradley. Also attending was special guest Luke Gygax, son of Dungeons & Dragons creator Gary Gygax and founder of Gary Con.

(Photos by Eugene Powers)

Lionsgate Acquires eOne Studio, Production Company for $500 Million

Lionsgate is acquiring the eOne studio and production company from Hasbro for $500 million, including $375 million in cash and the assumption of production financing loans. Hasbro acquired eOne in 2019 for almost $4 billion.

The deal includes the eOne portfolio of 6,500 scripted and unscripted television and motion pictures. Under the agreement, Lionsgate will acquire a library that includes titles such as 1917, Atomic Blonde, Green Book, “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Criminal Minds,” “Renegade” and “Designated Survivor.” The scripted television business includes “The Rookie” TV franchise, now in its sixth season on ABC, the hit spinoff “The Rookie: Feds,” and production of Showtime’s critically-acclaimed horror thriller “Yellowjackets.”  eOne’s unscripted business includes the long-running reality series “Naked & Afraid,” now in its 11th season on Discovery.

eOne’s movie business includes last year’s action adventure The Woman King, which debuted to widespread critical acclaim, the Academy Award-nominated The United States v. Billie Holiday, and 1917, eOne’s highest-grossing U.K. release ever. As part of the agreement, Lionsgate also will acquire film development rights to Hasbro’s Monopoly, based on the legacy board game.

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The acquisition will allow Lionsgate to continue to scale its operations in the U.K. and Canada, where it has recently launched production partnerships with BBC Studios (“Ghosts”), Channel Four (“Motherland”), the CBC (“Son of a Critch”), Rogers’ CityTV (“Wong & Winchester”) and Bell Media.

“The acquisition checks off all the boxes in areas that play to our core strengths,” said Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer in a statement. “It will be immediately and highly accretive, adds a world-class library with thousands of properties, strengthens our scripted and unscripted television business and continues to expand our presence in Canada and the U.K.”

Hasbro CEO Chris Cocks said the gaming company looks forward to partnering with Lionsgate on the theatrical production of a movie adaptation of Monopoly.

“Lionsgate’s management team is experienced in entertainment and adept at driving value, and we’re glad to have found such a good home for our film and TV business,” Cocks said in a statement.

Hasbro Entertainment Unit Posts Q4 Income, Revenue Declines; Still Looking for eOne Buyer

Game and entertainment manufacturer/distributor Hasbro Feb. 16 reported entertainment revenue of $334 million in the fourth quarter (ended Dec. 25, 2022). That was down about 12% from revenue of $379 million during the previous-year period.

The business unit, which includes movie and TV show production, saw content revenue decline to $310.6 million, from $345 million, with unit operating income dropping 17% to $25.1 million, from $32.7 million in the previous-year period.

Film and TV revenue declined 10% reflecting lower film revenue with fewer new releases in 2022 vs. 2021 and the timing of deliveries. TV revenue increased behind strong scripted TV deliveries.

For the fiscal year, film and TV production/license revenue declined 17% to $828.7 million, from $997.7 million in 2021.

Hasbro said it remains committed to selling Entertainment One (eOne), the Canadian movie/TV production company it acquired in late 2019 for $4 billion under former CEO Brian Goldner, who died from prostate cancer in late 2021.

New CEO Chris Cocks wants to streamline the company’s entertainment content production and return to legacy game creation as part of his Blueprint 2.0 operating strategy.

“As we announced previously, our fourth quarter and full-year 2022 results came in below our expectations,” Cocks said in a statement. “Our strategy is centered on what makes our brands great — play, supported by compelling storytelling and disciplined brand management.”

Retiring CFO Deborah Thomas said Hasbro remains focused on investing in higher return brands and projects, ending low-return initiatives, modernizing the organization and lowering its cost base.

“We forecasted a challenging 2022, and that came to fruition,” Thomas said.

‘Super Sentai Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger’ Coming to DVD in Complete Series Eight-Disc Set

Shout! Factory in collaboration with eOne on Feb. 14 will release Super Sentai Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger: The Complete Series in an eight-DVD collection.

The release marks the first time the series has been available to North American consumers.

The “Super Sentai” franchise, spanning 46 different series and concepts, has been going strong in Japan for many years. The collection includes all 50 episodes from the “Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger” series, presented in Japanese with English subtitles. 

The series is set in Megalopolis. Once a peaceful Earth city, it’s now a haven for criminals aided by the nefarious Alienizer arms dealer, Agent Abrella. It’s up to Ban Akaza and the Special Police Dekarangers to protect the Earth from the invading Alienizers and finally bring peace and justice back to the planet.

“Dekaranger” is the only “Super Sentai” series in which the gender ratio is equal; of the 10 Dekarangers, five are male and five are female.

 

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.

‘The Woman King’ Exceeds Expectations, Tops Domestic Box Office

(This story was updated Monday, Sept. 19, at 8:30 a.m. PT.)

The historical drama The Woman King, starring Viola Davis, led a trio of smaller new releases to top the domestic box office the weekend ending Sept. 18 with an estimated opening of $19 million.

That’s significantly higher than the $12 million in ticket sales Sony Pictures, which co-financed the $50 million production with eOne, had expected. Other, independent tracking services had higher hopes of at least $15 million.

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Davis portrays General Nanisca, who leads an all-female unit of warriors, known as the Agojie, that protected the African kingdom of Dahomey in the 1800s. The film also stars Lashana Lynch and John Boyega (Star Wars: The Force Awakens), among others.

Helmed by Gina Prince-Blythewood, The Woman King reportedly cost $50 million to produce. The film received an A+ CinemaScore rating and has been highly praised by critics.

The weekend’s other two new films, A24’s horror prequel Pearl and the Disney/Searchlight mystery comedy See How They Run, finished in third and fourth place, with respective weekend box office grosses of $3.12 million and $3.1 million, according to Box Office Mojo.

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See How They Run stars Sam Rockwell, Saoirse Ronan, Adrien Brody, and others. Directed by Tom George and written by Mark Chappell, the film is set in the 1950s and revolves around a Hollywood film director who travels to London to adapt a popular stage play into a movie, only to wind up murdered.

Pearl, a prequel to X, is the origin story of the murderous Pearl. The film was directed by Ti West and co-written by West and Mia Goth, who also portrays the title character. Other cast members include David Corenswet, Tandi Wright, and Matthew Sunderland.

The weekend’s No. 2 movie was holdover Barbarian, from 20th Century Studios/Disney, a horror movie that took in an estimated $6.3 million. Written and directed by Zach Cregger, the film follows a young woman who rents a house that unbeknownst to her has a horrific past — and a deadly present. Barbarian stars Georgina Campbell, Bill Skarsgård, and Justin Long.

Rounding out the top five was Sony Pictures’ Bullet Train, which took in another $2.5 million to brings its total gross, after seven weeks in theaters, to $96.4 million, according to Box Office Mojo. The action comedy stars Brad Pitt as an assassin who has to fight off fellow killers while on a high-speed Japanese train.

Hasbro Shareholder Seeks New Board Members, Cites eOne Acquisition as ‘Greatest Failure’

An activist shareholder has notified game maker/Hollywood producer Hasbro it is nominating five members to the company’s 10-member board of directors at the upcoming 2022 Annual Meeting of Shareholders to spur changes at the corporate level. Lionsgate vice-chairman Michael Burns currently sits on the Hasbro board.

Alta Fox Capital Management, the beneficial owner of approximately 2.5% of the outstanding shares of Hasbro, Feb. 17 issued a 100-page presentation outlining steps it claims can return value to Hasbro shareholders.

Specifically, Alta Fox contends Hasbro’s “Brand Blueprint” strategy initiated by late CEO Brian Goldner, who died last year following a seven-year battle against prostate cancer, has been ineffective and spurred “consistent misallocation” of capital resources.

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The shareholder cites Hasbro’s $4.6 billion acquisition of Hollywood producer/distributor Entertainment One (eOne) in 2019 as both a “defining moment” and “greatest failure” for the game maker that has over the years forged lucrative studio (Paramount) movie deals and episodic content (Netflix) license deals around brands such as Transformers and G.I. Joe and My Little Pony.

“This deal diluted Hasbro’s shareholders, added a substantial amount of debt to the balance sheet, complicated the investor narrative and destroyed significant value,” Alta Fox said in a statement.

The investor claims Hasbro’s shares declined 9% the day of the deal announcement and remain dramatically lower than pre-acquisition levels today. At the same time, Alta Fox says Hasbro’s “significant underperformance” over the past five years nonetheless enriched senior executives with around $180 million in compensation.

“Hasbro’s total annual board compensation exceeds that paid to the board of directors of Apple and many other world-class companies of greater scale and with superior results,” read the statement.

In addition to new board members, Alta Fox says Hasbro should spin off its “Wizards of the Coast” (WOTC) game segment (brands include “Magic: The Gathering” and “Dungeons & Dragons”), which the investor claims is a “hidden gem” with a “completely different” growth, margin and valuation profile than the consumer products and entertainment segments.

WOTC upped its revenue 42% in 2021 to nearly $1.29 billion, according to Hasbro. Alta Fox believes the brand could be worth $100 per share when spun off as a standalone publicly traded property. Hasbro shares are currently trading at around $100 per share.

“We anticipate it would be one of the most exciting and valuable specialty gaming businesses in the world, particularly if it were to refocus investment on core intellectual property and eliminate loss-driving, speculative bets on non-core franchises,” Alta Fox wrote.

Hasbro, in a statement, said it received Alta Fox’s letter and said its board and management team — led by new CEO and former WOTC president Chris Cocks — have held discussions with Alta Fox to better understand its views on the game maker’s strategy.

Hasbro said that while it feels it has a “highly qualified, independent, experienced and engaged board,” it would evaluate the notice of nominations, and the nominees, as it would submissions made by other shareholders.

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.

Shout! Factory Slates 35th Anniversary Steelbook for ‘The Transformers: The Movie’

The Transformers: The Movie will be issued in a limited-edition 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Steelbook from Shout! Factory, in collaboration with eOne, a Hasbro company, on Aug. 3, in time for the film’s 35th anniversary.

The packaging features new key art by celebrated comic artist Matt Ferguson. The release also includes an all-new 4K transfer of the movie in widescreen with HDR, Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos, the film in HD full frame on Blu-ray, immersive bonus content including never-before-seen feature-length storyboards, plus four exclusive art cards.

The 4K edition will include new bonus materials such as feature-length storyboards, including deleted, alternate and extended sequences; and the Fathom Events 30th anniversary featurette, including Stan Bush’s acoustic performances of “The Touch” and “Dare.” The combo pack will also include previously released extras including the “‘Til All Are One” retrospective documentary, audio commentary, legacy featurettes, animated storyboards, and trailers and TV spots.

Fans who pre-order from shoutfactory.com will also receive a limited-edition 18×24-inch lithograph with new art by Ferguson, while supplies last.

On Sept. 28, Shout! Factory will issue two additional 35th anniversary editions of The Transformers: The Movie: a standard 4K UHD + Blu-ray combo pack and a Blu-ray + DVD combo pack.

The standard 4K edition includes the all-new 4K transfer of the movie in widescreen along with the HD full frame version and new bonus material. The full-length storyboards and Fathom featurette are exclusive to the 4K editions.

The Blu-ray + DVD combo pack is a reissue of the 30th anniversary combo pack, featuring the movie in HD full frame on Blu-ray as well as a widescreen edition on DVD, and new box art.

These configurations will be available for pre-order later this summer from Shout! Factory.

Under license from Shout! Factory, The Transformers: The Movie Steelbook and standard 4K Ultra HD Blu-rays will also be released in the United Kingdom this September.