Westbrook Inc., the entertainment company founded by Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, has ended talks to sell to a new media venture backed by Blackstone Group and executives Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs, sources tell Variety.
The two parties began discussions in mid-September, Variety previously reported, with the former Walt Disney Co. honchos looking to scoop up the 2-year-old company behind the streaming series “Red Table Talk” and the forthcoming Oscar contender “King Richard.”
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The sales talks ceased this week, two individuals familiar with the parties said. Sources noted it was possible that both sides could reevaluate and return to the table in the future. It’s unclear what halted the transaction, though one insider noted the difficulty in calculating a valuation for Westbrook — a company in its relative infancy that’s also led by two superstars and has credits including the Netflix hit “Cobra Kai.” A different source also noted a “chaotic” aura around the Mayer-Staggs operation. The venture does not yet have a name, but also sparked unexpected consolidation interest in production entities after scooping up Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine for nearly $1 billion this year.
A Westbrook spokesperson declined to comment on the matter. As a matter of policy, Blackstone Group does not comment on deal speculation, a representative said.
Westbrook is now considering other offers from interested parties, including BlackRock Capital. That firm has interests in gaming (Epic Games, Scopely) and content makers like Industrial Media (HBO Max’s “Selena + Chef,” Netflix’s “Indian Matchmaking”). A representative for BlackRock Capital did not immediately return Variety‘s request for comment.
The Mayer-Staggs initiative has cracked many Hollywood financial books in recent months, fueled with a reported $2 billion fund from Blackstone. Previous acquisitions it sought included music manager and aspiring mogul Scooter Braun’s SB Projects and Ben Silverman’s Propagate, though both failed to materialize. The men remain bullish, especially as the Hello Sunshine deal is credited in the industry for helping close Amazon’s $8.4 billion purchase of MGM, among others.
The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Mayer and Staggs are circling international producer Moonbug Entertainment, producer of the kids and family streaming juggernaut “CoComelon.” Sources were confident that transaction will close imminently.
Westbrook Inc. was launched in 2019 by founders Jada Pinkett Smith, Will Smith, Miguel Melendez and Ko Yada. It is run by CEO Yada and president Tera Hanks.
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