EXCLUSIVE: The scripted and unscripted television arm of The Weinstein Company is in the middle innings of a back and forth with buyers that should lead to a major sale by spring. Buyers are circling, with overtures to acquire a 50%-75% stake. The likeliest scenario: a deal for around 50% of the company, bringing in $300 million or so.
Deadline got a look at the prospectus circulated by Moelis & Company, the investment bank which is handling the offering. It is a different scenario than the last go-around, when Allen & Co attempted to sell 100% of the TV division, and ITV stepped away from a deal. The new scenario creates an opportunity for the cash infusion the TWC board has been seeking, but it keeps co-CEOs Harvey and Bob Weinstein engaged with major skin in the game. The deals being discussed include long-term pacts with the brothers and COO David Glasser, as well as the television executive team led by Megan Spanjian, EVP of Scripted Television, and Patrick Reardon, EVP of Unscripted Television.
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As TWC has refocused its profile over recent years from feature film toward television because the risk is lower and there is such an appetite for original content, published speculation has the company strapped for cash. The prospectus indicates instead that if TWC has pulled back on movie spending, it’s putting its money into premium TV content, often sharing the expense with broadcast partners. That includes two big deals in partnership with Amazon that were completed after the prospectus was prepared: Amazon/TWC’s commitment of $160 million for a two-season, 16-episode run of a mob-themed drama created and directed by David O Russell and starring Robert De Niro and Julianne Moore. The same parties made a $70 million commitment for eight episodes of an untitled series by Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner.
The sales pitch promises that upon consummating a stake deal, TWC will continue managing and generating its scripted and unscripted content output. That will be part of the company profile going forward, along with a film business that will generate six to eight titles each year, and a multi-platform slate from RADiUS, a division that was successful under Tom Quinn and Jason Janego, but which has been quiet since they exited.
What’s in the 52-page prospectus? Here are some of the highlights, which include ambitious projections for future growth based on a slew of development projects with big names attached. According to the prospectus, the consolidated EBITDA in 2015 was $31.6 million on an overhead of $11.9 million; the estimated EBITDA in 2016 will be $50.6 million on $13.9 million overhead; and the projected EBITDA for 2017 is $75.2 million on $14.7 million overhead, and $94.5 million on 16 million overhead in 2018.
The company claimed that “given its highly favorable network deals, Weinstein TV is able to arrange a high degree of direct production funding and/or guaranteed license payments on each of its productions…this reduces the cash needs associated with the continued scaling of Weinstein TV’s production operations and significantly reduces the deficit risk associated with the business model.”
The company said the 2016 revenues of its scripted and unscripted TV business amounted to $205 million of inventory that was sold, with another $17.7 million pending. According to the prospectus, 92% of 2016 revenue is contractually committed on productions that include Scream, Marco Polo, Project Runway and War And Peace, with the two biggest productions, Scream and Marco Polo, “nearly 100% sold.”
Other series that factored into the revenue stream include Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny, Julian Fellowes Presents Doctor Thorne, the new History Channel Navy SEAL miniseries Six for History Channel, the Italian series Gomorrah, the Baltasar Kormakur Icelandic TV series Trapped, and the BBC TV drama The Eichmann Show.
Upcoming series listed on the slate include an adaption of the Nick Stone spy series authored by Andy McNab, with the Equalizer team of scribe Richard Wenk and director Antoine Fuqua attached; Bennett Miller attached to direct a Genghis Khan project, based on the book Mongol Queens; the Dowdle Brothers attached to Waco, about the 51-day standoff between the FBI/ATF and cult leader David Koresh; an adaption of the Mario Puzo novel Omerta; Brett Ratner attached to direct Liquid Smoke, based on cigarette pioneer Don Aronow; Glee’s Matthew Morrison and Jason Momoa circling an 1820s Hawaii-set tale called Thy Kingdom Come; and Doctor Strange helmer Scott Derrickson attached to direct an adaptation of the Stephen King novel The Breathing Method.
The unscripted series library is anchored by Project Runway and two spinoff series, with four more in the works. Among the development series listed are Karaoke Kings with Arsenio Hall as host. There are also a plan to generate animated TV series including Spy Kids: Mission Critical, Little Astro Boy and Superbuilders, and plans to expand TV-series spinoffs into live events that already include the CFDA Fashion Awards and World Dance Awards, the latter a primetime dance show that will be produced by Dick Clark Productions.
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