The two parties have been in talks since March and have now sealed a deal which sees Red Arrow buy a majority stake in Gravitas, with a view to eventually taking full ownership. Red Arrow International, the company’s distribution arm, and Gravitas will work side by side but remain separate distribution brands.
“We weren’t explicitly looking to be in the film business, but we were looking to be deeper in the content business. And the fact is being better at distribution and having more capacity to access, finance, and own projects, and then distribute more compelling packages and catalogue, is key for us,” Red Arrow Entertainment Chairman and CEO Jan Frouman told Variety.
Gravitas releases about 400 new films annually, recently picking up sci-fi thriller “Alien Invasion: S.U.M.1,” which stars “Game of Thrones” actor Iwan Rheon. It has a library of more than 2,400 English-language titles. Red Arrow and Gravitas said they intend to make significant investments in global film and TV projects via acquisitions, co-production, and co-financing.
“The amount of creative firepower that is coming through their door every year is remarkable,” Frouman said of Gravitas. “A lot of people who make TV make movies and vice versa. And [with] the ability to have relationships with all of them on a broad basis, to have production shingles you can attach to projects, have a distribution arm that can handle formats, finished product, TV shows, and movies, you become a much more dynamic player.”
Gravitas CEO and co-founder Nolan Gallagher and his fellow senior managers at Gravitas, Michael Murphy and Brendan Gallagher, will remain with the business. “We were looking to find a strategic partner,” Nolan Gallagher said. “We have relationships with hundreds of filmmakers, and we saw an opportunity to, over time, bring that talent to bear in future opportunities with Red Arrow.
“Creative people want to explore different mediums,” he added. “It allows us to have a deeper conversation with our producers and directors. Before, we were so focused on finding the next film and distributing the next film. Now we can say to filmmakers, ‘What is it you want to achieve over the next five years [in film and TV]?'”
Red Arrow has built an international network of production companies during a sustained period of M&A. Many of these are based in the U.S., including Fabrik Entertainment, Left/Right, Half Yard Productions, and Kinetic Content. Red Arrow companies program about 15% of the grid of ProSiebenSat.1 channels, one of the biggest broadcasters in Europe. The U.S. business, however, accounts for the lion’s share of Red Arrow revenues – about 70% – and that was before the Gravitas deal.
Salem Partners and Greenberg Glusker advised Gravitas Ventures on the transaction. Red Arrow was advised by Stella EOC and Milbank.