Village Roadshow, in a move to bolster its suite of content available to license to online digital platforms, is buying a one-third interest in US distribution and production company FilmNation Entertainment for $US18 million (AU$22 million).
Roadshow Films will continue as distributor of FilmNation films in Australia and New Zealand.
The acquisition consolidates another supply channel for Roadshow, enabling growth of its content library both in terms of volume and diversity of product.
Roadshow says this will help solidify Roadshow Films as Australia’s leading independent film distributor and is also of strategic importance as the digital market for film continues to grow, with new digital platforms emerging seeking quality content.
A raft of digital streaming platforms are setting up, or being built, in Australia including Stan, a $100 million Fairfax Media and Nine Entertainment joint venture, and Netflix, the US giant which plans to open in Australia in March.
The $US18 million price will be used to expand FilmNation’s development slate, targeting high quality independent films aimed at adult audiences 25 years and older.
Films sold by FilmNation have grossed over US$1 billion at the worldwide box office, including The King’s Speech, Looper and Magic Mike as well as The Imitation Game which was recently released in the US and will open in Australian cinemas in January.
The first two feature films scheduled to begin production in 2015 for release in 2016 under the new structure are The Founder, directed by John Lee Hancock, which tells the true story of how Ray Kroc created McDonald’s into a billion dollar empire, and The Good House, starring Meryl Streep and Robert De Niro, based on the New York Times bestseller by Ann Leary.
Village Roadshow shares last traded slightly weaker at $5.99.