You may know actress Reese Witherspoon’s production company, Hello Sunshine, from its work on HBO’s “Big Little Lies.” It also produced AppleTV+’s “The Morning Show” and Hulu’s “Little Fires Everywhere.”
Now Hello Sunshine is selling itself for $900 million. The buyer? A company backed by the private-equity behemoth Blackstone Group Inc., the Wall Street Journal reports.
Blackstone and Hello Sunshine are trying to form a new entertainment company to meet the rise of streaming. Blackstone has yet to name their new media venture, but its first acquisition is Hello Sunshine. Witherspoon and CEO Sarah Harden will join the board of Blackstone’s new company. (They will also continue to helm Hello Sunshine.)
Running Blackstone’s new venture will be ex-Walt Disney Co. executives Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs. Mayer used to run Disney+ and was passed over for CEO of Walt Disney. Staggs is a former Disney chief operating officer. The two partnered on a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, in March, per Deadline. SPACs are “blank check” shell companies that go public looking for private companies to buy.
Reese Witherspoon Says Deal Proves Hollywood Needs More Stories for Women
Witherspoon founded Hello Sunshine in 2016. Speaking to the WSJ, the actress said the sale of her company proves its bet on stories by and about women was a sound one.
“I’m going to double down on that mission to hire more female creators from all walks of life and showcase their experiences,” Witherspoon said. “This is a meaningful move in the world because it really means that women’s stories matter.”
Mayer and Staggs are reportedly now searching for content companies to buy. They believe their new venture comes at an opportune moment in Hollywood.
As the streaming race heats up, streaming services are scrambling to stock their platforms with as much popular TV and movie content as they can find. There is currently a run on quality programming in Hollywood as the streaming field grows more crowded.
The shift to streaming has also opened up some fissures in Hollywood between studios and creators. With streaming platforms hungry for content, studios are increasingly funneling movies and TV series to their own streaming services. Actors, directors and producers, on the other hand, want to see their work reach the broadest audience possible.
Unlike major studios saddled with streaming services to stock, Blackstone’s new venture will have the freedom to license its programming to any studio or network. Mayer told the WSJ that their firm’s independence is an asset in a landscape littered with walled gardens.