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International television production powerhouse Fremantle continued its buying spree Tuesday, acquiring a majority stake in Wildstar Films, the award-winning British documentary and factual specialist behind series such as National Geographic’s America’s National Parks and America the Beautiful and Monkey Kingdom for Disneynature.
Fremantle, part of media giant Bertelsmann’s RTL Group, did not disclose financial details of the deal, which will see it take 51 percent of Bristol-based Wildstar.
Mark Linfield and Vanessa Berlowitz, producers on such groundbreaking nature series as the BBC’s Planet Earth and Frozen Planet, and feature-length docs including Chimpanzee (2012) and Elephant (2020) for Disney, co-founded Wildstar to make premium factual content for global streamers and broadcasters. They will remain in charge at the company, which is currently in production on two feature-length films for Disneynature and multiple premium series for Disney+ and National Geographic including Queens and Sentient with Darren Aronofsky’s Protozoa Pictures.
“Fremantle is a fantastic fit as a partner — we share a similar culture and the same ambition of working with the best talent on and off screen to make genre defining shows; we’re also really excited that their international teams will help us grow Wildstar and reach more viewers around the world,” Linfield and Berlowitz said in a statement.
The Wildstar deal is just the latest in a raft of acquisitions by Fremantle, which is ramping up its production operations with the goal of growing its revenue from $1.9 billion last year to the target of $3 billion by 2025.
Last week, Fremantle took a majority stake in documentary producer 72 Films (9/11: One Day in America) and the group has been gobbling up independent companies over the past 12 months, including scripted Italian production company Lux Vide (Devils, Leonardo), U.S.-based Fabel (Bosch) and Australian-American TV group Eureka Productions (Parental Guidance, Finding Magic Mike) among many others.
Fremantle is betting the rapid growth of streaming platforms worldwide will fuel a new demand for high-quality content that the streamers will be unable to meet on their own, opening up an opportunity for independent production companies with a global reach.
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Thomas Brodie Sangster