Fremantle and Wildstar Films have signed a strategic partnership deal, with Fremantle acquiring a 51 per cent majority stake majority stake in the award-winning independent production company at the forefront of innovation in natural history and premium factual content.
Fremantle’s global infrastructure, distribution, and specialist support across the 27 territories in which it operates, will provide Bristol-based Wildstar with the opportunity to build on recent growth and exploit the growing demand for premium factual and specialist factual content from international broadcasters and streaming platforms. With a slate of high-end projects already in development and production, this acquisition reaffirms Fremantle’s strategic plans to scale-up its production capabilities in premium documentary films and series, by working with exceptional creatives.
Led by co-founders Mark Linfield and Vanessa Berlowitz, whose extensive credits include Planet Earth, Frozen Planet, and multiple feature-length films for Disney Studios, Wildstar produces premium factual content for global streamers and broadcasters. Recent series launches include America the Beautiful, Epic Adventures with Bertie Gregory, and America’s National Parks for Disney+ and National Geographic. The company is currently in production on two feature-length films for Disneynature and multiple premium series for Disney+ and National Geographic including Queens, Sentient with Darren Aronofsky’s Protozoa Pictures, as well as further series in partnership with high-profile Hollywood talent.
Wildstar Films co-founders Mark Linfield and Vanessa Berlowitz, commented: “Fremantle is a fantastic fit as a partner – we share a similar culture and the same ambition of working with the best talent on and off screen to make genre defining shows; we’re also really excited that their international teams will help us grow Wildstar and reach more viewers around the world.”
Simon Andreae, Chief Executive Officer, Fremantle UK, said: “Within four short years Mark, Vanessa and their team have built Wildstar from a brand new start up to one of the fastest growing, most dynamic, and most imaginative brands in Natural History. They bring creative excellence, technical innovation, and true sense of joy to all that they touch. We are thrilled to welcome them to the Fremantle family and to join them in the next exciting step on their journey.”
Mandy Chang, Head of Global Documentaries, Fremantle, added: “Wildstar Films is an extraordinary company with strong core values, who take huge pride in their work, which delights, and importantly, inspires millions of people to think differently about natural history and being better citizens to our planet. We all value independence, and creativity, and look forward to providing them with the right level of support at an exciting time at Fremantle, as we scale-up our global non-scripted capabilities.”
Wildstar recently bolstered its leadership team with the hires of former BBC Natural History Unit Head of Development Doug Mackay-Hope as SVP Development and Production, and multi-award-winning editor Nigel Buck as Executive Editor.
The investment in Wildstar Films follows the acquisitions over the past 12 months which include UK production company Dancing Ledge (The Responder), scripted Italian production company Lux Vide (Devils, Leonardo), international development and production company Fabel (Bosch), Australian-American television production company Eureka Productions (Parental Guidance, Finding Magic Mike) and 12 production labels in Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark from Nordic Entertainment Group (This is Nice Group), Irish production company Element Pictures (Normal People, The Favourite) and most recently documentary powerhouse 72 Films (All or Nothing: Arsenal, 9/11: One Day in America).
In August 2021, RTL Group set targets to increase Fremantle’s full-year revenue to €3 billion by 2025. The acquisition of Wildstar Films forms part of Fremantle’s wider growth strategy to invest in production companies, content, and talent around the world to source the best creative ideas, develop and create strong and unmissable IP.