Westbrook Studios, the Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith company behind Telluride Film Festival favorite King Richard and series Red Table Talk and Cobra Kai, has held exploratory talks with a number of potential buyers including the new venture led by Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs and backed by the Blackstone Group.
Blackstone and Westbrook both declined comment Sunday, but sources confirmed the talks amidst a major grab for content this year so far that’s seen Amazon agreeing to buy MGM and Discovery to merge with WarnerMedia.
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The still unnamed Mayer/Staggs media company in early August became a majority investor in Reese Witherspoon’s media company Hello Sunshine, its first deal. It called itself “an independent, creator-friendly home for cutting-edge, high-quality, category-defining brands and franchises – with Hello Sunshine as a cornerstone, initial pillar of that strategy.” It said that it aims to bring together “elite talent operating at the intersection of content, community, and commerce [and] help position leading entertainment businesses for accelerated, sustainable growth in the current market and beyond.”
The streaming wars have accelerated the need for fresh content. Other independent producers eyeing deals include LeBron James. His The SpringHill Company has been in talks with potential investors including Nike.
THR first reported the talks between Westbrook and the Mayer/Staggs company.
Staggs is the former CFO of Disney. Mayer, also a longtime Disney exec, was most recently CEO of TikTok.
Westbrook Studios last month signed a five-year first-look deal for unscripted content with National Geographic. Will Smith’s new adventure series Welcome to Earth for Disney+ is slated to premiere on the streaming platform later this year.
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