As previously reported, Sony is believed to have beaten off a number of potential buyers, and has taken a majority stake in the outfit.
The investment in Eleven marks one of the few major M&A deals to have emerged from the last four months, when much of the industry has ground to a standstill due to COVID-19. Tom Manwaring of Helion Partners advised the shareholders of Eleven Film on the transaction.
The deal forms part of a wider expansion drive for Sony Pictures Television, who also own “The Crown” producer Left Bank Pictures, and is diversifying the group’s production portfolio and growing IP. In December 2019, Sony Pictures Television expanded further into children’s programming by acquiring Silvergate Media, and broadening the group’s capability in sports and live entertainment production with the acquisition of Whisper Films in February.
The acquisition brings to an end the Channel 4 Indie Growth Fund’s involvement in Eleven, which became the first drama production company to benefit from the fund back in 2014.
Founded in 2006 by Jamie Campbell and Joel Wilson, Eleven has picked up BAFTA and Broadcast Award nominations for programs including E4’s “Glue” and Sky’s “The Enfield Haunting,” which starred Timothy Spall, Juliet Stevenson and Matthew Macfadyen.
Since its release in January 2019, Laurie Nunn’s “Sex Education” has become a consistently top show for Netflix, generating more than 40 million views in the first month alone, according to the streaming giant. Having returned for a second season in January 2020, the show has now been recommissioned for a third season, which will soon enter production.
Eleven also has political thriller “White Stork” in the pipeline for Netflix, starring Tom Hiddleston as a charismatic young political candidate who is on the fast-track to becoming Prime Minister; and YA horror series “Red Rose” for the BBC, following a group of 16 year-olds who encounter a supernatural presence on social media.
Wayne Garvie, President, International Production, Sony Pictures Television, said: “For some time, we have watched on as Jamie and Joel built one of the most exciting drama companies in the U.K. Their ability to spot and develop new writing and acting talent and their eye for a unique and compelling idea make them an irresistible pairing.
“We are thrilled they see Sony as their ideal partner to grow Eleven and I know that our existing production companies in the U.K. and beyond are thrilled that they are going to join our merry little family. In the midst of the [COVID-19] crisis, this acquisition also demonstrates Sony’s underlying faith in the future success of British production and desire to keep on entertaining the world.”
“Joining Wayne, Richard and the rest of Sony’s extraordinary team in the US and UK is a hugely exciting step for us. We are deeply proud of the world-class slate of scripted shows we have in development; and no one in the world is better positioned than Sony to help us convert it,” say Eleven’s Jamie Campbell and Joel Wilson of the deal.
“Together, we have absolute conviction that we can build on the series we have in production (Sex Education, Red Rose, White Stork), and realise our ambition to become a pre-eminent global drama producer.”