Fremantle has acquired a majority stake in nature film producer Wildstar Films, continuing the company’s recent buying spree with mostly European production companies.
The Bertelsmann-owned super indie has entered into a strategic partnership with Wildstar and has acquired a 51% stake in the company. Wildstar is best known for high-profile natural history productions like the Meghan Markle-narrated Elephant for Disneynature and America the Beautiful for Disney+.
The deal is Fremantle’s second major investment in a week. Earlier this month, the company acquired a majority stake in David Glover and Mark Raphael’s de facto powerhouse 72 Films, the producers behind 9/11: One Day in America, The Rise of the Murdoch Dynasty and All or Nothing: Arsenal. .”
With the support of Fremantle, Bristol-based Wildstar plans to build on recent growth and capitalize on demand for premium factual and specialist factual content from international broadcasters and streaming platforms.
Led by co-founders Mark Linfield and Vanessa Berlowitz, whose credits include Planet Earth, Frozen Planet and feature-length films for Disney Studios, Wildstar produces premium non-fiction content for global streamers and broadcasters.
Recent series launches include Epic Adventures with Bertie Gregory and America’s National Parks for Disney+ and National Geographic.
The company is currently producing two feature films for Disneynature and a number of premium series for Disney+ and National Geographic, including Queens and Sentient with Darren Aronofsky’s Protozoa Pictures.
Wildstar recently hired Doug Mackay-Hope, former Head of Development at the BBC Natural History Unit, as Senior VP of Development and Production and multi-award-winning editor Nigel Buck as Editor-in-Chief.
Wildstar Films’ Linfield and Berlowitz said, “Fremantle is a great partner to partner with – we share a similar culture and ambition to collaborate with the best talent on and off screen to make genre-defining shows; We are also very excited that their international teams will help us grow Wildstar and reach more viewers around the world.”
Simon Andreae, CEO of Fremantle UK added: “In four short years, Mark, Vanessa and their team have built Wildstar from a brand new start into one of the fastest growing, most dynamic and imaginative brands in natural history. They bring creative excellence, technical innovation and a true sense of joy to everything they touch. We are delighted to welcome her to the Fremantle family and to accompany her on the next exciting step in her journey.”
Mandy Chang, Fremantle’s Head of Global Documentaries, said: “Wildstar Films is an extraordinary company with strong core values that takes great pride in its work, which excites and most importantly inspires millions to think differently about natural history and being better citizens of our planet. We all value independence and creativity and look forward to providing them with the right level of support during an exciting time at Fremantle as we expand our global unscripted capabilities.”
Fremantle’s investment in 72 Films follows acquisitions over the past 12 months including UK production company Dancing Ledge (“The Responder”), Italian script production company Lux Vide (“Devils”, “Leonardo”), international development and production company Fabel ( “Bosch”), Australian-American television production company Eureka Productions (“Parental Guidance”) and British unscripted production company Label1 (“Hospital”), 12 production labels in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark by Nordic Entertainment Group (This is Nice Group) and most recently Irish production company Element Pictures (“Normal People”).
Last August, RTL Group announced its goal to raise Fremantle’s full-year revenue target to €3 billion by 2025 diversity Speaking at Mipcom, Fremantle CEO Mullin said the company is “on track” to meet its staggering goals.
(Pictured, LR: Vanessa Berlowitz, Mark Linfield, Mandy Change, Simon Andreae)