Continuing its expansion plans following a major new investment earlier this year, Imagine Entertainment has hired Steve Shikiya as its chief operating officer.
Shikiya most recently served as deputy chief operating officer for Endemol Shine North America, where he oversaw operational strategy across the company as well as the business operations within the scripted studio.
His hiring by Imagine comes four months after the production company led by co-founders and chairmen Brian Grazer and Ron Howard received a $100 million-plus investment from The Raine Group, the 6-year-old New York merchant bank that has been in the thick of many Hollywood deals of late. Imagine plans to use the funds and other expected investments to power a significant expansion.
Shikiya will be responsible for aligning all business operations across Imagine’s broad film and television operations and managing new business initiatives, as the company looks to broaden its reach into film and television financing, international co-productions and new media opportunities including branded entertainment.
Grazer called Shikiya’s background and operating experience “a perfect fit” for his new role, adding: “We are confident in his ability to help us expand and grow Imagine in new and unique ways.” Also praising the new COO, Howard said, “We could not have found a more qualified executive who has the perfect mix between major studio experience and a deep understanding of the independent content company dynamics.”
Prior to Endemol Shine, Skikiya also held executive positions across 21st Century Fox, which includes time at The Shine Group, a division of 21st Century Fox as well as separate stints within each of Fox’s motion picture and television studios. He also held management positions at Universal Studios, MGM Studios and The Walt Disney Company.
“I am honored to be at Imagine,” said Shikiya. “I thank Brian and Ron for their innovative vision for the company which has opened up such a unique opportunity for me to join them in this expansion.”
The Raine investment gives Imagine more money for new film and television projects. Grazer and Howard’s company has made its mark at the box office with films such as “The Da Vinci Code,” “Parenthood,” “Friday Night Lights” and Oscar-winner “A Beautiful Mind.” The new Imagine is expected to scout out other media assets for acquisition, as opportunities present themselves over the long run.
Imagine’s three-decade long production and distribution deal with Universal Pictures expires at the end of 2016. One likely scenario is that Imagine will move its film deal to 20th Century Fox, which has been the studio home for 16 years of Imagine’s television offerings. The two parties are currently in talks to extend the Imagine-Fox TV deal, which also runs out this year. Imagine produces the Fox hit, “Empire,” and was behind the popular “24,” which is currently being rebooted.