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ENTERTAINMENT

Media Magnates

Contact the Editor at karina@plainlanguagemedia.com.

Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group vaults itself into the entertainment business after having acquired VStar Entertainment Group this July. The combined entity currently has 29 shows in production, including branded offerings for Nickelodeon’s Bubble Guppies and Paw Patrol. In 2019, Cirque will launch the first of six planned indoor family entertainment centers (complete with aerial parkour, juggling, and dance) in Canada.

Four months after being acquired by AT&T, WarnerMedia (home of HBO, Turner, and Warner Bros.) announces a direct-to-consumer streaming TV service. Launching in Q4 2019, the project is expected to build off the success of HBO Now. No word yet on pricing, what the service will be called, or what content will be available as WarnerMedia untangles its rights from current contracts with streamers like CBS All Access, Hulu, and Netflix.

The Point.1888 joins forces with global marketing agency PowerStation Studios to boost its creative offering to clients. As part of this initiative, every new product the partnership develops for clients will be designed to perform highly both commercially and creatively.

VF Corp. offloads its Reef brand to recently bankrupt The Rockport Group in a transaction expected to close this month. Reef will operate as an independent brand and maintain its current headquarters. VF Corp. is aggressively reshaping its portfolio over the last two years; this year, it sold the Nautica brand picked up performance athletic shoe maker Altra. In 2017, VF Corp. acquired Dickies parent Williamson-Dickie Mfg. Co. and shed its Licensed Sports Group. In 2016, VF closed the sale of its Contemporary Brands business, which included the 7 for All Mankind, Splendid and Ella Moss brands.

Atomic Toybox Entertainment, headed by four-time Emmy nominee Michael Polis, acquires Fuel Entertainment’s library of 42 IP assets. Atomic Toybox will work with New Zealand’s Pukeko Pictures, with whom it has a first look agreement, on developing these properties for television. The Fuel Entertainment catalog includes the PlayStation Network game Sideway, the iTunes App Broddcast, Fairies & Dragons, and Tetsurai, a futuristic game filled with giant robots.

Nickelodeon inks an exclusive first-look deal with Kevin Hart for live-action and scripted kids content. The comedian and actor’s prodco, HartBeart Productions, has several film and television projects currently in development.

Brandstaetter Group and the Ink Group are set to produce an animated series based on the German toyco’s flagship Playmobil brand. The companies are also partnering to bring VR and mobile game apps that will bring the 7.5 cm characters to life.

Netflix is buying its first production studio, ABQ Studios, the New Mexico facility behind The Avengers and Sicario, to accommodate its growing output of original movies and television shows.

Walmart is partnering with movie studio Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM) to create content for its video-on-demand service, Vudu.

Basic Fun! purchases all assets of Playhut, a California toyco that produces the EZ Twistline of indoor and outdoor play structures. Playhut had “serious troubles navigating the challenging retail environment” following TRU’s bankruptcy. Other classic toys brands under the umbrella of Basic Fun! include Uncle Milton and K’NEX.

Asia’s largest global sports media property ONE Championship closes a $166 million Series D financing round led by Sequoia Capital. New investors, including Temasek, Greenoaks Capital, and other leading institutional investors, also participated in the round. ONE now has a total capital base that tops $250 million.

Case goods importer Stanley Furniture Co. sells the trade name and inventory of its Stone & Leigh youth furniture line to a group that includes former interim CEO of Stanley Furniture Matthew W. Smith. Stanley will continue to manage the brand, including producing the line in its partner source factories and selling it through its sales force and various sales portals. It also will continue to warehouse and ship the line.

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