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Blackstone rolls out entertainment empire strategy with Candle Media

blackstone-candle-media-kevin-mayer-tom-staggs-thefutureparty
Blackstone entertainment // Illustration by Kate Walker

Blackstone rolls out entertainment empire strategy with Candle Media

The Future. Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs’ Candle Media is making acquisitions left and right to create the entertainment company of the future — one where providing content to streamers and creating a flywheel of ancillary business around popular names is the goal. It may seem disjointed for now, but the Disney alums know a thing or two about making money from disparate franchises (Marvel, Lucasfilm, Pixar), so expect even splashier deals to follow.

Content & commerce
Mayer and Staggs’ Blackstone-backed entertainment plans — which already include acquisitions or investments in companies such as Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine and Moonbug Entertainment — are finally coming into the light.

  • On the heels of a minority investment in Will and Jada Smith’s Westbrook, the duo unveiled that the name of the new company is Candle Media.
  • It has $2 billion in cash from private equity firm Blackstone to make deals and has already done $4 billion in deals by also combining equity and debt.
  • The goal is to create an umbrella company of production entities that can sell content to all the streamers and also expand into commerce and merchandising.
  • Notably, each of the acquired companies maintains independent control — a major upside.

Candle Media has discussed/is discussing potential deals with Ron Howard and Brian Grazer’s Imagine Entertainment, YouTube stars Rhett & Link’s Mythical Entertainment, and the digital media company ATTN.

Despite the splashy deals so far, Candle is also looking to make smaller acquisitions in spaces like gaming, social media, and commerce.

If it a fee, it’s for me
Although private equity firms have typically shied away from Hollywood because of its inconsistent, need-a-hit-to-make-money nature, Blackstone believes that the advent of streaming has made a return on investment more stable. These platforms need content, so Candle Media is charged with bringing in companies that have a recognizable brand, are churning out popular content, and can expand into new markets.

Candle Media reportedly will focus on making projects for all the streamers, focusing on collecting fees from sales and licensing… though owning content is in the cards as well (good luck trying to share ownership with Netflix or Amazon Prime). Nonetheless, Blackstone believes that Candle will be worth $20-30 billion and will be ready to go public in a couple years.