TodayTix Group has acquired Secret Cinema, a London-based entertainment company, in a move that will give the e-commerce company a presence in the burgeoning immersive film and television events space.
The pact was for over $100 million, according to a source with knowledge of the deal. That’s a hefty figure and a sign of the rapid growth of Secret Cinema, which has exploded in popularity over the last decade by offering up heavily-produced experiences with the likes of Disney, Marvel, Universal, Paramount, Lionsgate, Netflix, Sony and Eon Productions. The company has sold over one million tickets to more than 50 shows. It has also recently secured a multi-year, multi-title deal with Disney, which kicked off with its hot-selling immersive experience tied to “Guardians of the Galaxy” in Wembley Park.
Other experiences, such as one involving “Casino Royale”, reached an audience of over 100,000 in London, while its “Stranger Things” production was seen by over 300,000 people in Los Angeles. TodayTix Group will keep Secret Cinema’s team of 50 full-time staffers intact and will have it continue to operate as a separate brand. TodayTix Group has roughly 330 employees.
“This company has been a leader in the field and what makes them especially unique is in their relationship to the studios,” says Brian Fenty, co-founder and CEO of TodayTix Group. “They are entrusted to build transformative experience by some of the top entertainment companies in the world. For us, this was a transformative acquisition in that it allows TodayTix to leverage its data and millions of customers and its frictionless technology to marry with Secret Cinemas game-changing approach to IP presentation.”
Thus far, Secret Cinema has primarily operated in the U.K. with the notable exception of its “Stranger Things” experience, which allowed U.S. crowds to enter Starcourt Mall circa 1985 to see all manner of bizarre occurrences. With the acquisition, TodayTix hopes to help Secret Cinema grow internationally. To that end, in May 2023 Secret Cinema will launch a U.S.-national tour and establish a permanent location in Los Angeles.
“I can’t say much but the tour will be tied to an iconic beloved American film,” teases Fenty.
Under its new ownership, Secret Cinema will also tweak its format. Historically, it has produced short-term shows that lasted for a few months. Now, the company will begin creating open-ended theatrical runs at major cities. The company will also look to establish a permanent location in London to host these experiences.
Secret Cinema was founded in 2007 by Fabien Riggal and has launched 70 productions to date, including ones inspired by “Blade Runner,” “Bridgerton,” “Back to the Future,” “Star Wars” and “Alien.” Audiences are often encouraged to dress up like characters from the movies or shows. Tickets range from 35 pounds to more than 130 pounds.
“It has been an extraordinary two years for everyone in entertainment, as we emerged from multiple lockdowns and restrictions to the current cost pressures of putting on our shows,” Max Alexander, CEO of Secret Cinema, said in a statement. “Despite this, Secret Cinema remains an exceptional producer of unforgettable, immersive experiences. Now with the backing and unique expertise of TodayTix Group, it can fulfill its true potential and bring suspense and spectacle to even more Secret Cinema goers around the world.”
TodayTix Group has been very acquisitive in recent years, buying Goldstar, a live events ticketing platform; Show-Score, a Rotten Tomatoes-like service for live theater; Encore, a London-based ticketer; and Broadway Roulette, a service that helps selects Broadway shows for users that specify a date and preference between musicals or plays. Fenty said the company is open to expanding, but doesn’t feel any pressure to keep growing.
“If there’s a deal to be done, we will look at it, but we have a great portfolio right now and we’re very busy integrating these businesses,” he said.
Lisbeth R. Barron and Barron International Group acted as strategic advisor to TodayTix Group throughout the acquisition of Secret Cinema.