Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine fires up $900 million deal
Future. A Blackstone Group-backed media firm, run by Disney vets Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs, is rolling up Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine for a lot of money. The acquisition may show that the future of entertainment deal-making is paying top talent to grow companies around their image — the influencers of Hollywood — and sharing in the backend. Looks like the new A-listers are media entrepreneurs.
How much is a Reese Witherspoon worth?
- An unnamed firm backed by private equity firm Blackstone Group Inc. is buying her company, Hello Sunshine, for over $500 million from current investors such as Emerson Collective and AT&T.
- That values Hello Sunshine (which includes its film, TV, animation, and book club) at $900 million.
- Although leadership will remain in place, the company will be rolled up into a larger media firm that will be run by Disney vets Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs.
- Hello Sunshine will be able to license existing projects or sell new ones to any studio, streamer, or network.
Mayer and Staggs, powerful and respected Hollywood executives, were given a war chest of $2 billion by Blackstone to create a new media venture. It had previously targeted Scooter Braun’s Ithaca Holdings and Ben Silverman’s Propagate Content, but those deals never ultimately materialized.
Mayer and Staggs also run a SPAC, which, curiously, has a similar mission as the Blackstone-backed firm.
The new media venture will have an ownership stake in anything that Hello Sunshine produces. The hefty price tag shows Mayer and Staggs’ confidence in the company and Witherspoon’s ability to make a lot of money in the future, especially as Reese’s Book Club has become one of the literary tastemakers (and optioners of IP). So far, Hello Sunshine only has ownership in a single show: Hulu’s Little Fires Everywhere.
But as consolidation rocks Hollywood’s buyers, high-profile production companies backed by celebrities are quickly becoming the next target. In recent months, Lebron James’ SpringHill Entertainment, Ron Howard and Brian Grazer’s Imagine Entertainment, and Will and Jada Smith’s Westbrook have all found themselves on top of investors’ wish lists.