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Photo by Rebecca Sapp/WireImage

Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith’s entertainment company, Westbrook Inc., has sold a minority stake to a new media company backed by Blackstone and led by former Disney executives Tom Staggs and Kevin Mayer, a source close to the deal confirmed to Axios.

Why it matters: Celebrity and athlete production studios are becoming a hot target for acquisitions, as streamers look to bolster their content offerings.

Details: Staggs and Mayer acquired about 10% of company for about $60 million, valuing the company at roughly $600 million, according to a source familiar with the deal.

  • In a statement, Staggs and Mayer revealed that the name of their new venture is "Candle Media," which "reflects the light of creativity at the heart of its model as an independent, creator-friendly home for cutting-edge, high-quality, category-defining brands and franchises."
  • The investment was first reported by The Information.

Catch up quick: Westbrook was founded two and a half years ago by Jada Pinkett Smith, Will Smith, producer Miguel Melendez and investor Ko Yada.

  • The studio produces premium content across film and television. It also is home to Red Table Talk Productions, the creator of the Emmy Award-winning talk show Red Table Talk and Red Table Talk: The Estefans.
  • Westbrook also has a a direct-to-consumer business consumer products business called Good Goods.

The big picture: Staggs and Mayer are on a buying spree. In the past year, the duo has acquired three studios via its new venture, including:

  • Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine, which sold for $900 million in August
  • Moonbug Entertainment, a UK-based digital content company that's home to the YouTube streaming hit "Cocomelon," which sold roughly $3 billion in November
  • Faraway Road Productions, the content studio behind Fauda, which reportedly sold for less than $50 million in December

The big picture: Streaming has sparked a flurry of consolidation in the TV and film production.

  • Amazon announced in May it would acquire MGM Studios for $8.45 billion, including debt.
  • LeBron James' entertainment firm, SpringHill Company, sold a significant minority stake at $725 million valuation in October.
  • Other smaller studios like A24 and Legendary are also rumored to be in deal talks.

Go deeper

Jan 12, 2022 - Economy & Business

D.C. journalists launch media startup called "Grid"

Grid

A group of D.C.-based journalists on Wednesday launched a new media company called "Grid" that focuses on hard news analysis and investigative reporting.

Why it matters: Grid debuts amid a flurry of new media companies looking to reach a similar audience of wealthy, elite professionals.

Updated 10 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: The end of the Omicron wave is in sight — Transplants rebound from COVID lull.
  2. Vaccines: WHO: No evidence that healthy children, teens need boosters — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden to announce plan to distribute 400 million masks for free — Government website for free COVID tests launches early.
  4. World: WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older.
  5. Variant tracker

University of Michigan reaches $490M settlement in sex abuse case

Jon Vaughn, a former University of Michigan and NFL football player, speaks at a press conference in Ann Arbor, Mich., in June 2021. Photo: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

The University of Michigan on Wednesday reached a $490 million settlement with over a thousand survivors who allege that they were sexually assaulted by a former physician in the school's athletic department.

Driving the news: "It's been a long and challenging journey and these survivors have refused to remain silent," attorney Parker Stinar said Wednesday.

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