Terms were not revealed by the companies. But industry sources told Deadline the deal values Skydance at between $1.2B and $1.5B, meaning the minority investment is believed to be worth a nine-figure sum.
The funding will enable the company to add scale and capability but does not change its strategic focus on the film side. Skydance, which last summer re-upped its production and co-finance deal at Paramount, was initially created as a film shingle and has backed big-budget franchises such as Star Trek and G.I. Joe. It is now behind the latest Mission: Impossible and Terminator installments, among other films, and has burgeoning animation, TV and gaming units.
The investment will allow Skydance to access Tencent’s expertise in Asia and gaming to further build out its presence there. Under the partnership, Tencent can co-finance Skydance films, as well as handling marketing, distributing and merchandising in China. Other media initiatives, including television, interactive and virtual reality are also in the mix.
“We are thrilled and honored to be entering into a strategic partnership with Tencent, whose global reach and position within the Chinese marketplace is truly unmatched,” Ellison said. “Skydance has experienced a tremendous amount of growth since our inception in 2010, and we’re excited that our next phase of expansion will be in partnership with a company that shares our vision for where entertainment is heading.”
James Mitchell, chief strategy officer at Tencent, said, “Skydance is nurturing successful entertainment franchises, especially in the action and science fiction genres, which are particularly popular in China. We believe this partnership will support Skydance’s expansion internationally, across media and into television production, and provide Tencent with attractive content that we can share with China consumers.”
The company has produced and financed 15 feature films, which have cumulatively grossed almost $5 billion in worldwide. Animation, television and gaming have since become complementary businesses for Skydance. In addition, it produces and retains the rights to several of the most successful action, adventure and science fiction franchises of all time, including Star Trek, G.I. Joe, World War Z and Top Gun.
Since its start in 2013, Skydance TV has created and financed eight series, including Netflix’s Grace and Frankie and Altered Carbon on Netflix, Amazon’s Jack Ryan and AMC’s Dietland. Skydance Interactive has produced and released virtual reality games including Archangel VR and the upcoming Walking Dead VR game.
Tencent, a Chinese internet giant, formed Tencent Pictures in 2015. Its portfolio includes films based on books, comic books, animated series, and video games. In September 2017, it announced 43 projects in the pipeline in various stages.
In the new stake, Skydance was advised by Goldman Sachs and Latham & Watkins. Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison acted as legal advisor to Tencent.