Ashton Kutcher and Reese Witherspoon Hook Up for Netflix Rom-com Your Place or Mine

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Vulture 03 August, 2021 - 05:11pm 26 views

Is Reese Witherspoon a billionaire?

Reese Witherspoon's decision to bet on herself and women-led stories is paying off richly: The actress is now worth $400 million, Forbes estimates, following Monday morning's news that a Blackstone-backed media company is purchasing a majority stake in her production company Hello Sunshine. ForbesHow Reese Witherspoon Has Become The World's Richest Actress

The actress, who founded the company in 2016, told CNBC's Julia Boorstin on "Tech Check" Tuesday that this cash infusion will help the fledgling entertainment group grow exponentially.

"We're just doubling down on our mission," Witherspoon said. "Now we're going to have the ability to tell more stories, to hire more female filmmakers, to promote and lift up even more authors."

Hello Sunshine courted a number of offers, including one from Apple. A majority stake is being bought by a venture that includes Blackstone Group and is led by former Disney executives Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs. A person familiar with the deal said it was valued at about $900 million.

"When we started the company 4½ years ago, we set out with a very specific intention of how we wanted to build," said CEO Sarah Harden. "We took a step back and said 'how do we set ourselves up for the next five to 10 years of growth?'"

Witherspoon and Harden will continue to oversee Hello Sunshine's day-to-day operations and will join the yet-to-be-named company's board.

Hello Sunshine was started to create content focused on female voices and has already produced shows like HBO's "Big Little Lies," Hulu's "Little Fires Everywhere" and Apple's "The Morning Show."

With so many streaming options in the market, there is pent-up demand for content. Backed by Blackstone, Hello Sunshine will be able to produce more shows and films, making it attractive to these platforms. Not to mention, it has a solid track record of Emmy nominations.

The company has been able to key into what its audiences want through social media, Witherspoon said. The actress actively engages with this community, particularly those that are part of Reese's Book Club. Witherspoon, an avid reader, has optioned a number of books for television series.

"We didn't have these kind of opportunities seven years ago," she said. "I was making movies in a vacuum. I never really knew who was seeing them, what their feelings were. Now, I have this really great one-on-one relationship with people all over social media. ... We can really figure out and tease out exactly what audiences want to see."

In addition to a scripted studio, Hello Sunshine also produces unscripted shows and began a kids animation division 18 months ago.

"I'm really excited to extend our mission into animation so that we can reach more young women with this idea that women can be the heroes of their own story and do that authentically with real female creators," Witherspoon said.

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Venture buys stake in Witherspoon's media company

CNBC Television 04 August, 2021 - 04:10am

The actress, who founded the company in 2016, told CNBC's Julia Boorstin on "Tech Check" Tuesday that this cash infusion will help the fledgling entertainment group grow exponentially.

"We're just doubling down on our mission," Witherspoon said. "Now we're going to have the ability to tell more stories, to hire more female filmmakers, to promote and lift up even more authors."

Hello Sunshine courted a number of offers, including one from Apple. A majority stake is being bought by a venture that includes Blackstone Group and is led by former Disney executives Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs. A person familiar with the deal said it was valued at about $900 million.

"When we started the company 4½ years ago, we set out with a very specific intention of how we wanted to build," said CEO Sarah Harden. "We took a step back and said 'how do we set ourselves up for the next five to 10 years of growth?'"

Witherspoon and Harden will continue to oversee Hello Sunshine's day-to-day operations and will join the yet-to-be-named company's board.

Hello Sunshine was started to create content focused on female voices and has already produced shows like HBO's "Big Little Lies," Hulu's "Little Fires Everywhere" and Apple's "The Morning Show."

With so many streaming options in the market, there is pent-up demand for content. Backed by Blackstone, Hello Sunshine will be able to produce more shows and films, making it attractive to these platforms. Not to mention, it has a solid track record of Emmy nominations.

The company has been able to key into what its audiences want through social media, Witherspoon said. The actress actively engages with this community, particularly those that are part of Reese's Book Club. Witherspoon, an avid reader, has optioned a number of books for television series.

"We didn't have these kind of opportunities seven years ago," she said. "I was making movies in a vacuum. I never really knew who was seeing them, what their feelings were. Now, I have this really great one-on-one relationship with people all over social media. ... We can really figure out and tease out exactly what audiences want to see."

In addition to a scripted studio, Hello Sunshine also produces unscripted shows and began a kids animation division 18 months ago.

"I'm really excited to extend our mission into animation so that we can reach more young women with this idea that women can be the heroes of their own story and do that authentically with real female creators," Witherspoon said.

Data is a real time snapshot *Data is delayed at least 15 minutes. Global Business and Financial News, Stocks, Quotes, and Market Data, and Analysis.

Forget the $900 Million. The Reese Witherspoon Deal Launches the Next Arms Dealer for Streamers

Yahoo Entertainment 04 August, 2021 - 04:10am

The $900 million price tag for Witherspoon’s company sounds insane by Hollywood standards, and it is: That valuation comes from the tech industry, not from studio comps. More importantly, as box-office and Nielsen impact declines as a metric of clout, the Blackstone-backed deal shows there’s room for major TV and movie producers to cash in on the chaos of the moment. In the future Hollywood, streamers won’t hold every iota of power.

“There’s a window in time in which the public markets are affording tremendous windfalls that likely won’t be around in five years because of consolidation,” said Eric Schiffer, chairman and CEO of private equity firm Patriarch Organization. “The message is there’s a giant pot of gold that will get divvied up, and that valuation is going to be in excess of what the norm would be historically because of the technology valuation multiples and this inflection point in how consumers globally get their entertainment.”

At Mayer and Staggs’ still-unnamed holding company, the pot of gold currently represents about $2 billion. Also rumored to be in the Blackstone acquisition crosshairs are LeBron James and Maverick Carter’s SpringHill as well as Brian Grazer and Ron Howard’s Imagine Entertainment.

“Godzilla vs. Kong” producer Legendary Entertainment and A24 are other independents rumored to be exploring a sale, while ViacomCBS and Roku are reportedly possible targets for an acquisition by Comcast. MGM peer Lionsgate is widely viewed as another obvious target for a merger or acquisition.

As acquisitions create new companies, old-school Hollywood is increasingly mired in growing pains. Scarlett Johansson responded with a lawsuit after Disney opted to go day-and-date with “Black Widow,” alleging the move allowed Disney to exploit the film’s value while bilking her for millions in the form of expected back-end compensation.

That kerfuffle is a direct result of Disney’s own effort to reshape its own infrastructure for the streaming-first world. Since October, Disney has directed a team of numbers-first executives to determine which distribution methods are best for the company’s bottom line for each of its productions. Increasingly, that means streaming, which often means less money for talent whose reps are still unsure of how much a given project is worth on streaming. Under Mayer and Staggs’ arms-dealer model, Hello Sunshine and its future corporate siblings could retain negotiating power by selling their projects to the highest streaming bidder, rather than on a work-for-hire basis.

“All of this is really about how are creators and IP originators going to be paid in the future,” said a senior streaming executive who requested anonymity. “I think what is compelling is the ones that are going to make the most money are the Reese Witherspoons who are smart, and they control the creation of those assets, rather than work for others to create those assets.”

Among Hollywood’s legacy studios, the only streaming holdout is Sony, which has opted to supply the likes of Netflix and Disney with its films after they leave theaters, as well as produce films for Netflix.

Windfalls for second-tier production companies are unlikely. Hello Sunshine’s valuation is tied directly to its track record of producing Emmy-winning adaptations like “Big Little Lies,” the HBO limited series so successful it spawned a second season, and “The Morning Show,” which served as a centerpiece of the launch of Apple TV+. The price tag, according to Staggs, also comes from Witherspoon and Hello Sunshine CEO Sarah Harden’s business savvy, as well as the company’s potential to produce ancillary revenue.

“We can build social- and commerce-driven businesses around Reese’s Book Club,” a digital content hub, he told Variety. “This is the crux of the forward-looking company that we’re trying to build.”

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Hello Sunshine, Reese Witherspoon's media company that has produced content for streaming services like Hulu, Apple and HBO, among others, has been sold to a yet-unnamed new media firm run by former Disney execs, Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs, the company announced this morning. Hello Sunshine was co-founded by Witherspoon and Strand Equity founder and managing partner Seth Rodsky in 2016, and is best known for producing series like HBO's "Big Little Lies," Hulu's "Little Fires Everywhere" and Apple's "The Morning Show," which feature Witherspoon in starring roles.

It's a perfect day for Reese Witherspoon as the actress and producer is selling the media company she founded to a newly formed company backed by private equity firm Blackstone Group. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed but The Wall Street Journal reported that the deal was worth about $900 million. Witherspoon, known for her roles in films such as “Legally Blonde" and “Walk the Line," created Hello Sunshine in 2016.

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