UPDATED: Hasbro’s been toying with the idea of buying a studio for years, going back at least to 2014 when acquisition talks with DreamWorks Animation fell apart. But the plaything maker broke off conversations with Lionsgate last week over “price disagreements,” Reuters reports today, citing “people familiar with the matter.”
Hasbro shares are down 2.2% following the report. Lionsgate is up less than 1%. A studio rep declined comment.
Lionsgate has a market value of $5.8 billion, while Hasbro is at nearly $13 billion.
It would be surprising to see Lionsgate sell: It recently bought Starz. And one of its major investors — Liberty Media’s John Malone — seems to like having the studio in the constellation of assets he influences, which also include Discovery Communications, Charter Communications, Liberty Global, Sirius XM, and Live Nation.
But SunTrust Robinson Humphrey’s Matthew Thornton says he can see the “industrial logic” behind a union of Hasbro and Lionsgate. Studio Vice Chairman Michael Burns sits on the toy company’s board. And the companies are already working together on My Little Pony and Monopoly movies.
Hasbro could benefit from having full control over “the end-to-end production and distribution and eliminating some markup/royalty costs.”
Hasbro CEO Brian Goldner told analysts last month that “entertainment continues to drive our business” as it makes toys for such franchises as Transformers, Disney titles including Star Wars and The Avengers, and My Little Pony.
It also has ambitious production plans. This week Hasbro Studios unveiled a deal to produce an original series, Stretch Armstrong And The Flex Fighters, for Netflix.
Hasbro’s Allspark Pictures produces feature films including Jem And The Holograms, Ouija, and G.I. Joe: Retaliation.
The toy company’s Q2 earnings disappointed investors, in part due to lower than expected sales of toys tied to Hollywood productions.
Hasbro said it discounted products to clear the shelves ahead of the release of new Star Wars merchandise at Disney’s Force Friday 2 rollout on September 1, plus the October release of My Little Pony: The Movie, and November’s Olaf’s Frozen Adventure from the Frozen franchise.