Studio's int'l arm make first purchase outside U.K.

LONDON — NBCUniversal International will take a majority investment in Oz shingle Matchbox Pictures for an undisclosed sum.

The investment is the company’s first stake in a production company outside the U.K.

Deal will give NBCUI distribution rights to all of Matchbox’s content in all territories apart from Oz and New Zealand.

Matchbox was formed in 2008 by Tony Ayres, Helen Bowden, Penny Chapman, Michael McMahon and Helen Panckhurst.

The shingle, based in Sydney and Melbourne, specializes in drama, comedy, documentary and children’s fare for TV and online, as well as feature films.

Matchbox has 12 fulltime staffers but plans to beef up its workforce now that NBCUI is onboard as a majority investor.

Outside Oz, Matchbox is probably best known for acquiring rights to the iconic Australian novel “The Slap,” by Christos Tsiolkas.

At times sexually explicit, “The Slap” follows what happens from the perspective of eight different characters after a young child is slapped at a family barbecue by an adult who is not related to the child. Show will debut in Oz this fall.

NBCUI’s other overseas production investments include Carnival, Monkey Kingdom and Chocolate Media in the U.K., a joint venture with Working Title Television, plus strategic production deals with Lark Prods. in Canada and Full Clip Prods. in Los Angeles.

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