EXCLUSIVE: Madison Wells Media has rebranded and brought all divisions under a new company name MWM, based in Century City. Part of the rebrand includes renamed divisions including MWM Studios (formerly OddLot Entertainment), MWM Immersive (formerly Reality One) and MWM Live (formerly Relevant Theatricals) as part of a new strategy to streamline operations to orient their 22 employees as one group. The management strategy is one that tech companies have also implemented in order to maximize flexibility when working across multiple platforms. The model is considered the most efficient for both employees and content providers.
“It’s a fundamental shift in how we look at what we are doing and how we orienting as a group,” said Gigi Pritzker, one of the two principles of MWM. “It allows for a nimbleness that is not allowed in other structures.”
Co-founded in 2015 by Pritzker and Clint Kisker, MWM is a diversified media and entertainment company that allows creators to cross-pollinate content between film, TV, live events, digital video and AR/VR in order to grow brands in an engaging way.
When content creators come into this type of structure, it allows them to create a brand and then fully capitalize their product and build across multiple platforms using a highly efficient, organized and thoughtful approach.
How a company is organized can make or break an operation. “Each division here is led by a partnership and they regularly meet with the other division heads,” said Kisker. “They are giving division heads information but also asking for information in return so they are providing benefit to each other. You have to share by design.” That kind of strategy is often implemented in Silicon Valley and was used at the very beginnings of Dell Computer before the company was a known and successful brand.
Not surprisingly, MWM was named one of Fast Company’s Top Ten Most Innovative Companies in Hollywood for 2017. The company has already created and released critically acclaimed work in film, TV, live theater and immersive, and offers a platform upon which creators can build businesses around their IP. Some of it is groundbreaking, like Jon Favreau’s immersive VR/video game experience Gnomes & Goblins.
During the interview with Deadline, it was very clear that Kisker was impassioned — and more importantly understood — the possibility of applications from the latest technology, whether it be immersive (VR) or artificial intelligence (AI) and how other applications can be used to hone in on a target audience to develop a loyal base of consumers. But he also talked about the use of technology to create content.
“What is interesting to me is what AI’s role plays in the character development and in the ways stories are developed and told,” said Kisker. One of the examples he used was Gnomes & Goblins.
“AI is embedded in that project right now. We are learning algorithms that Atom Tickets are using to create a more effective way to target your core audience in marketing,” said Kisker. Gnomes & Goblins is being produced through MWM Immersive (formerly Reality One), the augmented/VR division. Favreau has said before that the experience of Gnomes & Goblins is sort of like lucid dreaming. The combination of VR and videogame — how a consumer chooses to react sets their path in the movie. They become a character in the film/experience. “The experience feels extremely real,” said Kisker.
Through its exclusive partnership with Sony Pictures Entertainment, MWM Immersive will also produce content based on other studio IPs, including Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and Hotel Transylvania.
Joining MWM Immersive from Legendary Entertainment to lead all immersive product is newly appointed executive producer Ethan Stearns who most recently produced the Oscar-winning Carne Y Arena by Alejandro González Iñárritu.
“We have had a basic observation. It feels like everyone is stuck in traffic, and there is a passing lane for content creators right now to build different platforms,” said Kisker. “Technology is moving faster than infrastructure can keep up with. That really affects creators and storytellers.” The new strategy Pritzker and Kisker are employing in reshaping their company is one of the first steps to be ready for that technology.
“We see gaping opportunities,” Pritzker told Deadline who added, “A key piece is the investment piece we have. We are investing strategically in companies that can be amplifiers of the core divisions we have.”
Besides Immersive, there are MWM Studios, formerly OddLot Entertainment (the film and TV division within MWM that develops, produces, finances and distributes content). MWM Studios has been behind such critically acclaimed projects as the Emmy-nominated Nat Geo series Genius, Academy Award nominated Hell or High Water, and the 2017 indie comedy Landline which was released in partnership with Amazon Studios earlier this year. Chief Creative Officer Rachel Shane and COO Adrian Alperovich will continue to oversee MWM Studios.
Another division is MWM Live, formerly Relevant Theatricals, which is producing Tony Award-winning live events — a creator and developer of musicals for Broadway, off-Broadway, broadcast, touring and regional productions. It has produced a variety of critically acclaimed projects as well, including Million Dollar Quartet and newly opened Red Roses Green Gold (currently playing in New York’s Minetta Lane Theater). MWM Live is focused on “building engaged direct relationships.”
MWM Live will continue to be run by Chief Creative Officer Ted Rawlins and newly appointed COO David Katz, who joins MWM Live from Viacom and Nickelodeon.
“All of those groups that were here before are here now, but we have reorganized and it’s under the MWM brand and umbrella,” said Pritzker. And, obviously, changing it up to focus the entire team around one brand to expand and build each IP to its fullest potential.