London-based Centricus is in talks to buy more than 70% of Imagine, known for films like “Apollo 13” and “Cinderella Man”.
Messrs. Howard and Grazer will remain shareholders, and Imagine executives will continue to lead the studio’s creative output, some said. Some said the merchant bank Rhine Group would also own the shares.
Negotiations with Centricus may result in no agreement. Some said that others have also expressed interest in Imagine.
Hollywood has been hit with a flurry of deal-making in recent months as companies capitalize on demand for movies and TV shows for emerging streaming services. An early milestone was Candle Media’s August deal to acquire Reese Witherspoon-founded media company Hello Sunshine for approximately $900 million.
Since then, several companies have sold outright or taken on new investors, including Westbrook Inc., the media company co-founded by Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, AGBO, the media company co-founded by “Avengers: Endgame” director Joe and Are included. Anthony Russo and the Springhill Company, a media company co-founded by NBA star LeBron James.
Candle Media earlier this year agreed to buy Moonbug Entertainment, the creator of the children’s show “Cocomelan,” for more than $2.75 billion.
Founded in 1985, Imagine Entertainment produces award-winning films and TV shows that span genres including drama, comedy, and documentaries. Imagine’s projects have been recognized with Academy Awards, Golden Globes and dozens of Emmy Awards, According to company website, Imagine has also invested in media company Jigsaw Productions, founded by filmmaker Alex Gibney, and film and TV producer Jacques Media, co-founded by Tony Hernandez and Lily Burns.
An acquirer can continue to license Imagine’s library of movies and shows to distributors to generate cash. Some content produced by Imagine is already licensed to distributors including Netflix Inc.,
and walt disney Co.
, which may affect the value of the company to an acquirer. However, Imagine has co-financed more of its projects in recent years and co-owns some of its productions, including the documentary “Lucy and Desi”.
The company makes more than $30 million in cash annually, some of it from profit participation in its movies and TV shows, people familiar with its finances said. The annual revenue of the company could not be ascertained.
Recent Imagine fare featured “Tick, Tick… Boom!” A film adaptation of the autobiographical musical of “Rent” producer Jonathan Larson that was directed by Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Founded in 2016, London-based Centricus is a relatively low-profile investment and advisory firm run by former Deutsche Bank executives.,
With $40 billion in assets under management, it sees investments in sectors including consumer, media, entertainment and sports.
Last year it held talks with UEFA, European football’s governing body, on a 6 billion euro funding, equivalent to $6.9 billion, and in 2020 the firm made a tall bid for the popular video-sharing app TikTok.
Centricus also helped set up the Vision Fund, a $100 billion investment vehicle launched by SoftBank Group Corporation
Centricus teamed up with SoftBank in 2018 in a $25 billion bid to launch new tournaments for FIFA, soccer’s international governing body, and build a streaming and entertainment platform for it.