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The romance-focused streaming video service Passionflix — founded by filmmaker Tosca Musk — has raised $9.4 million in a new financing round led by AMC Networks.
Musk, who is also the younger sister of Tesla CEO Elon Musk and daughter of model Maye Musk, tells The Hollywood Reporter that she plans to use the fresh cash to ramp up original programming for Passionflix, and to grow the company, which still has only 6 employees. “[It’s] pretty tiny, so everybody wears a lot of hats, including myself,” she says.
“Movies cost money to make, and the way that a lot of streaming platforms work, and certainly Passionflix, is that every time we release an original, our numbers spike. So it was really for growth capture,” Musk says of the raise, adding that by the end of the year the service hopes to have completed filming on four new feature films and two seasons of a series, with plans to release them in 2023. Over the next two years the service hopes to release “as close to 20 movies as we can.”
“Two years goes by real fast when you are making movies because it takes so long to make them,” Musk says.
Musk says that she was connected to AMC through a mutual friend last year, in what turned out to be a happy coincidence. Passionflix had raised convertible debt financing, but was looking for other partners to invest.
“We are fortunate that we are making money, so we are able to continue to make content and grow. Maybe not as fast as we would like, but we were able to continue. And for me this next round was really about the right strategic partner,” Musk says. “Having AMC, which has such a strong knowledge base in growing niche streaming platforms, was really important to me.”
AMC Networks has built a streaming strategy around niche streaming offerings, each targeting certain genres or fandoms. Some of AMC’s streaming services include the horror-focused Shudder, anime-centric HIDIVE, and Acorn, which streams British TV programming. The minority investment in the service fits into that larger strategy.
Passionflix had raised more than $22 million in multiple rounds since its founding in 2017. Early investors included Norman Lear, Kimbal Musk, and First Look Media. First Look is also participating in the latest round, as is bestselling romance author Bella Andre, per Musk.
The new financing round was initially disclosed in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Musk has pushed the $6 per month service to carve out a niche in the romance films category, a genre which has long been a staple of cable TV, and also serves as a backbone of some streaming services. However, Passionflix is completely dedicated to the genre. Musk directs many of the projects herself.
“My goal is to make Passionflix a household name, so it is just as easy to say Passionflix as Acorn [the AMC-owned niche streaming service],” Musk says. “That is the immediate goal, certainly in the next year or so, that and to build out the content.”
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