After slimming down dramatically following Disney’s $71.3 billion acquisition of most of the Murdoch family empire, the new Fox Corp. is bulking up.
The Lachlan Murdoch-led Fox has snapped up Bento Box Entertainment, an animation company that produces Bob’s Burgers (on Fox) as well as series like Glove & Boots (on YouTube) and Paradise PD (for Netflix). Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.
Bento is also producing two upcoming series, The Great North and Duncanville, that will air on Fox. Bob’s Burgers has run for nine seasons on Fox, and will return to the air for its tenth in September.
“You can’t walk around the Fox lot without noticing a decades-long passion for animation. It is in the Fox DNA and has served legions of fans, partners and investors,” Fox Entertainment CEO Charlie Collier said Tuesday in a statement. “As we grow Fox for the next generation, it only makes sense we would expand our animation capabilities by bringing on board the best in the business: Bento Box.”
As demand for TV content grows, Fox becomes the latest studio to bring an animation studio in-house. Netflix launched its own animation studio last year to ramp up its production, as did CBS with its Eye Animation division.
Fox recently renewed the hits Family Guy and The Simpsons for additional seasons in a new deal with the now Disney-owned 20th Century Fox TV. This was the first time that Fox had to pay a licensing fee for both shows after its former in-house studio was sold to Disney. But The Simpsons and Family Guy are facing dwindling linear returns and soaring costs for the newly independent Fox Entertainment.
Meanwhile, Disney could opt to move Homer, Marge and company to a different network, which would allow the company to negotiate what could be a new billion-dollar broadcast, cable and streaming pact (or pacts) for The Simpsons for the first time since the show launched back in 1989 — when Fox was an upstart fourth broadcast network and HBO was best known for Tales From the Crypt.
Bento Box was founded in 2009 by Scott Greenberg (CEO) and Joel Kuwahara (president of production), both of whom will keep leading the company as it becomes a stand-alone division of Fox Entertainment. COO Brett Coker will also remain with Bento, which has studios in Los Angeles and Atlanta, during its transition to Fox ownership.
“Ten years ago, we launched Bento Box to create a home for the best talent in the business. Today, we’re the world’s leading studio for primetime animation, and this acquisition will provide us with the unique opportunity to build, to grow and to better service our current partners,” said Greenberg and Kuwahara in a joint statement.
They continued, “While we’ve always had a special relationship with Fox, we’re so excited to officially be part of the family. We’re looking forward to working closely with Charlie, Michael Thorn and their team to develop and produce amazing content together.”
The acquisition arrives only days after Fox shelled out $265 million to buy a majority stake in digital consumer finance marketplace Credible Labs. Fox Corp., formed amid the sale of 20th Century Fox, National Geographic, FX and other assets to Disney, is comprised of Fox Entertainment as well as Fox News Channel and Fox Sports.
Collier, who joined Fox from AMC in October, added, “The Bento-Fox combination brings Fox front-door access to the next wave of the genre’s creative leaders, while still maintaining Bento Box’s focus on all that makes them a terrific partner for outside producers.”
Lesley Goldberg contributed reporting.