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DISCOVERY+ adds 3 million subscribers since April
Natalie Portman suddenly departs HBO pic / Reese Witherspoon sells company for $900 Mil / WARNER MUSIC streaming $$ booming
Mornin! This is Sean McNulty and here’s the Hollywood + Media news to know on TUESDAY Aug 3, 2021.
Where sadly my morning didn’t begin with a Bronze medal (yet…), but thankfully Simone Biles’s did 🙌💪. She’s now tied for the most individual medals for an OLYMPIC gynmast ever.
📽 THE SILVER SCREEN
THE BUYER: A new un-named company backed by private equity firm BLACKSTONE with (at least) $2 Billion in funding, run by 2 former DISNEY execs:
Tom Staggs (former DISNEY COO)
Kevin Mayer (former head of DISNEY+, and former head of US TIKTOK for a hot minute in 2019).
WHAT’S BLACKSTONE: A private equity firm managing $650 Billion in assets, run by Stephen Schwarzman, a Donald Trump supporter and business advisor who donated over $4 Million to his inauguration and re-election efforts. And he also donates millions of dollars to organizations to put his name on buildings and such, including trying to re-name his Pennsylvania high school after himself. So if you see the name of this email change to THE SCHWARZMAN, know that I got a very nice check. His son Teddy runs an indie production company called BLACK BEAR PRODUCTIONS (most recent production was the NETFLIX Rosamund Pike movie, “I Care a Lot”).
THE DEAL: Existing SUNSHINE investors AT&T and Lauren Powell Jobs’s company are being paid a total of $500 Mil for their stakes. Reese & SUNSHINE partners are rolling their equity into the new company, where Reese and SUNSHINE Chief Exec Sarah Harden will also be on the board.
For anyone up for a #MediaNerd 🤓 read - I put together some cliffs notes on what Tom & Kevin have been up to, and why a $900 Million pricetag on a company that… doesn’t really own the successful products it produces is a bit of a 🤔. But if you’re here for other things - hey there’s a new trailer for the “Venom” sequel below 👍.
ALSO IN MOVIES
Rapper Travis Scott sets production deal with A24. The first “special project” (🤷♂️) will come out with a new TBD album… on a TBD date. /Variety
Jeff Garlin & Chloe Fineman join the cavalcade of stars in “LaLa Land” director Damien Chazelle’s next pic “Babylon”, set in 1920’s Hollywood with Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie at PARAMOUNT. Currently shooting, will hit theaters Dec 2022. /THR
SONY postpones return-to-office until mid October. Previous plan was Sept 7. /Deadline
And DEADLINE has a thorough roundup of revised back to office policies from Hollywood agencies & management firms around LA for those inclined.
📺 THE TV SET
Mary-Louise Parker & Rafe Spall were already cast in the story based on a novel by the creator of HBO’s “My Brilliant Friend”, about a housewife who is left by her husband and falls in to a deep spiral. But the project is now dead.
The shoot in Australia was fast approaching, though no specific reason was given for Natalie’s departure. Not even a nod to the irony given the title. Natalie set a production deal over at APPLE TV in the Spring. /THR
ALSO IN TV
“Lord of the Rings” prequel TV show to hit AMAZON PRIME in September… of next year. Sept 2, 2022 to be exact, which I’m gonna guess is the Friday of Labor Day weekend but we can dial that in next year. Season 1 wrapped shooting this week. /Deadline
“Insecure” showrunner Prentice Penny moves production deal from HBO to a $10+ Million deal at DISNEY’s new ONYX Collective, focused on creators of color, primarily for HULU but not exclusively.
And good news if you like the 2 current hosts of “The Bachelorette” this season - they’re coming back for Season 18. /Deadline
💻 THE MEDIA BIZ
They began April with 15 Million. No breakdown given as to how many take the ad-supported version vs. ad-free… but in the past they’ve indicated it skews heavy toward ad-supported.
Also no breakdown of US vs International subscribers, or Avg Revenue Per User for either. But they are making $6 Ad revenue per US subscriber / month, based on 3 minutes of ad revenue per hour of streaming viewed.
The 3 Million growth is in the ballpark of what HBOMAX added in the timeframe, although theirs were almost entirely in the US.
DISCOVERY+ is currently in about 14 countries (mainly US, India and Europe), and is the streaming home for the OLYMPICS in Europe as well.
BRAZIL, CANADA, PHILLPPINES, launching later this year
DISCOVERY revenue was $3 Billion for the April thru June period. For reference: that’s less than half of NETFLIX and YOUTUBE, and maybe 30% of NBCU’s (incl theme parks). But should be about 3X of LIONSGATE (STARZ).
That’s up 21% from the heart-of-the-pandemic-depths 2q 2020.
2/3rds of DISCOVERY’s revenue still comes from their US business, 1/3 International.
US Ad revenue +12% due to charging more and running more ads, not increased ratings.
Not much to say about the WARNER MEDIA deal as it’s still roughly a year away from an expected close date.
Basically… the music business continues to boom thanks to SPOTIFY, APPLE, and things like PELOTON. 69% of revenue is from digital media.
Total revenue +33% vs 2q 2020, hitting $1.3 Billion dollars, although just $61 Million in profit. /WarnerMusic Financial Report
ALSO IN MEDIA
DA BABY posts lengthy apology on IG for, well his past 10 days. This after 2 more major music festivals dropped him from their lineups (including NYC’s Governor’s Ball). /Billboard
🏦 STOCK NOTES:
Not much doin.
👩💻 NEW TO WATCH:
HBO “Obama: In Pursuit of a More Perfect Union” - 3 part documentary, premieres at 9p. Next two parts air on the next 2 nights at 9p.
If you were sent this newsletter or… just kinda found it:
🎥 TRAILER HOUSE
SONY PICTURES “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” trailer 2. It’s currently scheduled for just about 6 weeks from now on Fri Sept 24… but they just have a “Premiering this Fall” card on the end, likely to give them flexibility should rising Covid cases necessitate them moving the date later.
NETFLIX “Money Heist” Season 5, pt 1 trailer. The 5 episode drop premieres Fri Sept 3.
BLEECKER STREET “Together” trailer. Get quarantined with James McAvoy & Sharon Horgan as a married couple taking care of their son in the UK while sharing… candid thoughts to camera about their relationship and each other. Directed by Stephen Daldry. (somewhat ironically) In theaters on August 27.
🎧 PLAYING ME OFF
New REMI WOLF - “Liquor Store”. Fun female pop hip-hop that also gives me some mid 90’s vibes... accompanied by some raw lyrics. Then again when WAP exists… 🤷♂️
If you need new tunes:
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