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AGBO, the artist-led independent banner led by Avengers: Endgame directors Anthony and Joe Russo, has received a $400 million minority investment from Nexon Co., the Japanese video game maker.
The deal, which values AGBO at $1.1 billion as Nexon takes a 38 percent stake, will accelerate the global expansion of Nexon’s existing and new franchise intellectual property into film and TV and fuel AGBO as it develops, produces and owns tentpole-led entertainment universes reaching global audiences via games and virtual world experiences.
“We’ve proven early success at AGBO to create entertainment franchises at a global scale, and this investment from Nexon allows us to do even more of that, to continue to press the envelope on their ambitions and accelerate what we’re already doing,” AGBO CEO Jason Bergsman, who leads strategy and business operations at the Russo brothers’ indie banner, told The Hollywood Reporter.
He added that while the Russo brothers will continue to make smaller films away from the superhero arena like the Tom Holland starrer Cherry, they will mostly be working on a broad global creative canvas as they expand onto more digital platforms and world-facing streaming platforms look for content that appeals to audiences globally.
“We’re very aware that we know how to operate at that scale, have built an apparatus to deliver on that scale and on the quality and are in the unique position to be trusted to deliver on that success,” AGBO co-founder Mike Larocca said. And while AGBO has already begun early discussions with Netflix on a video game based on the Extraction property, the Russo brothers more broadly will look to do cross-platform collaborations with Nexon as each partner seeks to collectively extend its own IP onto additional media platforms aimed at global consumers.
“We have IP here at AGBO that I know Nick and the team at Nexon are excited about and I can say wholeheartedly they have IP that we’re excited about and we’re really excited to dig in,” Larocca added. As its ambitions grow with Nexon backing, the Tokyo-listed gaming company has committed to invest up to another $100 million in the first half of 2022, if AGBO makes the request.
The Russo brothers and producing partner Larocca launched AGBO in 2017 and have since worked on films and TV series with partners like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, NBC Universal, Disney, Apple TV+, A24 and Roku. Before that, the Russo brothers and the writing team of Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely — AGBO’s co-presidents of story — partnered to direct and write four Marvel films, which netted $7 billion at the box office.
AGBO will continue as an independent entity, with the Russo brothers and their executives maintaining majority control over the company. AGBO’s current slate includes Extraction 2, a sequel for Netflix; Citadel, a global event series for Amazon Prime; The Grey Man, starring Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans, for Netflix; and the Russo brothers will next direct the Electric State adaptation for Universal, to include a TV component.
For Nexon’s part, the investment in AGBO allows the company to get deeper into film, TV and gaming IP in the U.S. market from a Beverly Hills division, Nexon Film & Television, led by president Nick van Dyk, a former Activision Blizzard Studios and Walt Disney exec who is also chief strategy officer of Nexon.
Nexon, van Dyk explains, as a successful producer of online virtual worlds in Asia like Dungeon Fighter, The Kingdom of the Winds, MapleStory and KartRider, through its partnership with AGBO will expand into additional world markets across games, film, TV, merchandising and other experiences.
Van Dyk said the minority stake was about more than an investment in AGBO: “It’s really about a cross-media content partnership where we are getting into business with the best creators and adapters of franchise IP and film and television.”
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