Will Smith and Marc Forster have partnered to acquire Telepool GmbH, a German licensing and distribution company. As part of the deal, the company will become a development, financing, and distribution partner for Smith and Forster’s films.
Smith is one of the most recognizable stars in the world, with a list of credits that includes “Suicide Squad,” “Bright,” and “Bad Boys.” Forster is the director of “Quantum of Solace,” “Finding Neverland,” and “World War Z.” They have not worked together in the past.
Telepool releases, sells, and promotes movies, television, and gaming content in German-speaking territories. It also handles merchandising and publishing opportunities. Although little known in the U.S., Telepool has been around for more than five decades, becoming one of Europe’s leading sales and acquisitions firms. It also operates in a vital market for film. Germany is one of the 10 biggest sources of box office revenues in the world, and a major source of Hollywood financing.
According to an announcement, the acquisition was made by the Smith Family Circle, Will and Jada Smith’s Family Office, and Elysian Fields, a group of investors associated with Forster. It’s a bold move for Smith and Forster, one that potentially enables them to create and finance films that might have trouble securing a big studio berth at a time when Hollywood companies are cutting back on the number of movies they make. This means Smith and Forster will have already locked in home entertainment and theatrical distribution in key overseas markets, a big step up for films looking for funding. It also will potentially help Smith find financial support for projects that he does not act in, but only produces.
As a part of the deal, Smith and producer James Lassiter’s Overbrook Entertainment will have the option to develop and distribute film and television projects through Telepool. Overbrook, which has backed the likes of “Annie” and “The Karate Kid,” will continue to operate independently. In January, Overbrook decided not to renew its long-term distribution pact with Sony Pictures.
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2dux², an independent production entity run by Forster and producer Renee Wolfe, will also have the option to develop and distribute film and television projects through Telepool, but will likewise remain independent.
“Marc and I took a close look at Telepool and discovered a company that has an incredible reputation and a lot of potent,” said Smith in a statement. “We look forward to working together and with the Telepool team to create unique opportunities and content to strategically growing the business.”