'Spotlight' Studio Open Road Nears Sale to Tang Media (Exclusive)

Donald Tang and Tom Ortenberg - Split - Getty - H 2017
Left, courtesy of Tang Media Partners; Right, Getty Images

Led by Donald Tang, the growing L.A.-based company bought a majority stake in IM Global last year and counts a number of powerful Chinese companies among its strategic investors.

Donald Tang’s Tang Media Partners is in serious talks to acquire Open Road Films, the studio behind 2015 best picture Oscar winner Spotlight, according to sources.

Open Road, which is headed by CEO Tom Ortenberg, has been on the market for several months. The company launched in 2011 as a joint venture between theater chains AMC Theaters and Regal Entertainment Group with the goal of focusing on commercially minded fare that could find a home on multiplex screens between the big studio tentpoles.

It successfully distributed Spotlight and now has a library of 37 features, but it has stumbled at the box office with movies such as Snowden, Fifty Shades of Black and Max Steel, resulting in losses for the venture.

Discussions with Tang Media have been ongoing for some time and are believed to be close to a conclusion, although a deal has yet to be finalized.

Founded in 2015 by Tang, a former chairman and CEO of Bear Stearns Asia, Tang Media counts a number of powerful Chinese companies among its strategic investors. Tang is said to have advised AMC Entertainment in 2012 when it was bought by Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group in a landmark $2.6 billion deal.

Over the past year, the growing Los Angeles-based company has been on a buying spree, taking a majority stake in IM Global, the international sales and production finance business headed by Stuart Ford, in June 2016. The deal was seen as a game changer, marking the first time a company with such deep ties to the Chinese industry has come to control a major foreign sales and film finance firm.

More recently, Tang Media purchased Luke Ryan's content developer Chaotic Good Studios and its proprietary Fanalytics service, which provides data to film, TV and gaming studios about audience engagement and behavior.

Reps for Open Road and Tang Media declined comment. AMC did not return phone calls requesting comment, and Regal also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.