Candle Media buys stake in media company co-founded by Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith

American actor and producer Will Smith. (AFP)
American actor and producer Will Smith. (AFP)


  • Firm led by former Disney executives Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs and backed by Blackstone is paying about $60 million for more than 10% of Westbrook

Candle Media, a firm led by two former Walt Disney Co. executives, has agreed to buy a stake in Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith’s media company, the latest in a series of high-profile acquisitions for the Blackstone Inc.-backed entertainment venture.

The company, which is run by former Disney executives Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs, is paying about $60 million to acquire more than 10% of Westbrook Inc., according to people familiar with the matter.

Founded in 2019, Westbrook has backed projects including the recent film “King Richard," a biopic chronicling the life of Richard Williams, the father of tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams. Other Westbrook projects include the “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" reunion on HBO Max and “Red Table Talk," a show on Facebook Watch featuring Ms. Pinkett Smith, her daughter Willow Smith and her mother, Adrienne Banfield-Norris.

“Westbrook is the realization of our dream to give artists from all backgrounds equal opportunities to pursue their creative visions and share their stories," Ms. Pinkett Smith and Mr. Smith said in a statement. “We are pleased to join forces with Kevin, Tom and Blackstone to accelerate this mission by growing our content pipeline, our talent network, and our global expansion plans."

The Westbrook deal is the latest in a series of acquisitions in recent months for Messrs. Mayer and Staggs’s venture.

In November, the firm said it was buying Moonbug Entertainment Ltd., the company behind hit children’s shows “CoComelon" and “Blippi," for about $3 billion. In August, it said it was spending $900 million to acquire Hello Sunshine, the media company founded by Reese Witherspoon.

Mr. Mayer told The Wall Street Journal in August that he and Mr. Staggs were creating a new entertainment company for Hollywood’s streaming era. Some media companies are reluctant to license shows and movies to rivals, Mr. Mayer said, creating an opportunity for a new, independent player.

Hollywood has seen a glut of deals in recent months as buyers cash in on the demand for movies and TV shows for new streaming services.

CJ ENM, South Korean media company behind Academy Award winner “Parasite," in November agreed to purchase a majority stake in Endeavor Content’s scripted entertainment business for between $900 million and $1 billion, the Journal reported.

SpringHill Co., an entertainment company co-founded by National Basketball Association star LeBron James, agreed in October to sell a majority stake to a consortium of investors that valued the business at $725 million.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text

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