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Independent production giant Fremantle has acquired a majority stake in award-winning Irish group Element Pictures, producer of the hit BBC/Hulu series Normal People and Oscar-winning films The Favourite and Room.
The deal, unveiled Tuesday by Fremantle’s Group COO and Continental Europe CEO, Andrea Scrosati, Lorenzo De Maio of Fremantle-backed De Maio Entertainment, and Element Pictures co-founders Ed Guiney and Andrew Lowe, comes amid a feeding frenzy for Fremantle, which, in just the past 12 months, has bought up U.K.-based Dancing Ledge (The Responder), Italian production outfit Lux Vide (Devils, Leonardo), international development and production company Fabel (Bosch), Australia-U.S. television group Eureka Productions (Parental Guidance, Finding Magic Mike), U.K. unscripted outfit Label1 (Hospital, Five Guys a Week) and 12 production labels across Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark from Nordic Entertainment Group.
But even within that group, Element Pictures stands out. The Dublin operation is among Europe’s most successful and acclaimed independent producers, with feature credits including Lenny Abrahamson’s Oscar-winning Room, Yorgos Lanthimos’ Academy Award-winner The Favourite (as well as Lanthimos’ The Lobster and The Killing Of A Sacred Deer), Sebastián Lelio’s Disobedience; and Sean Durkin’s The Nest.
Its current films in postproduction include Lelio’s The Wonder for Netflix, Lanthimos’ Poor Things for Searchlight Pictures and Joanna Hogg’s The Eternal Daughter for BBC Films and A24.
Element’s move to television delivered the global hit Normal People (2020), based on the Sally Rooney novel of the same name, which picked up four Emmy nominations. The company is following up with the 12-part Conversations With Friends, another Rooney adaptation, which Abrahamson is directing, together with Leanne Welham, and which will premiere on BBC and Hulu on May 15.
“Fremantle is proud to be investing and partnering with the very best creative minds in the business. Ed, Andrew, and the amazing Element Pictures team certainly fall into this category,” Scrosati said in a statement. “They have built an astonishing company, which has become one of Europe’s most exciting and innovative creative production companies. We look forward to working closely with their immensely talented creatives, helping to build on their slate of high-quality, sophisticated and powerful productions. Creative freedom will sit at the very heart of this partnership, and everyone at Fremantle is excited to be working with the Element Pictures team and supporting their growth internationally.”
Scrosati noted that De Maio Entertainment will be a strategic advisor and partner across Element Pictures’ slate and use their extensive experience to optimize strategy and maximize each project’s impact and success.
Last August, Fremantle’s parent company RTL Group said its goal was to hit full-year revenues of €3 billion ($3.17 billion) by 2025. Acquisition of top production companies, as well as major investment in content, talent and IP are a core part of the group’s expansion strategy.
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