Tech-centric holding company Ballantyne Strong has launched Strong Studios to create content under the company’s Strong Entertainment division. David Ozer, formerly CEO of Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment’s Landmark Studio Group, will serve as president of the new studio.
Based in New York, Strong Studios will develop and produce original feature films and television series, as well as acquire third party rights to content for global multiplatform distribution. At launch, the new studio has set an initial distribution agreement with Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment’s Screen Media that will see Strong Studios produce two new scripted series, supernatural horror show “Safehaven” and Michael Rapaport dramedy “Flagrant,” for Screen Media this year. Both series will be launched through Screen Media’s streaming services Crackle, Popcornflix and Chicken Soup for the Soul, which have first rights to premiere.
“The launch of Strong Studios is a natural but also potentially transformative next step for our entertainment business,” Mark Roberson, chief executive officer of Ballantyne Strong, said in a statement on Monday. “Going forward, we will deliver not only the industry’s best movie screens and technical services, but also feature films and series for media platforms around the world. Strong Studios will have a head start with two pre-sold and greenlit series ready to start production right away. We plan to employ a disciplined and conservative approach to development of new projects, utilizing co-production and pre-licensing to limit financial exposure while building a content library with high potential for commercial success. We welcome David and his team and look forward to working with them to grow the business into a leading media studio with top original content.”
Per Strong Studios, “Safehaven” is a supernatural horror series based on the graphic novel about a female comic book artist whose drawings come alive to haunt her. “Safehaven” is produced by James Seale (“Throttle”), Kevin Duncan (“Juncture”) and Michael Bay’s 451 Media. Production is anticipated to begin in Canada mid-2022. “Flagrant” is an original dramedy series in partnership with actor and comedian, Michael Rapaport (“Atypical,” “White Famous,” “Public Morals,” “Justified”). Rapaport will appear in and executive produce Flagrant. Screenwriter Peter Hoare (“Standing Up, Falling Down,” “Down Under Cover”), and actor, broadcaster, stand-up comedian, and writer Pete Correale (“The Pete and Sebastian Show” on SiriusXM and “Kevin Can Wait”) will serve as co-writers and showrunners. Production is anticipated to begin mid-2022.
Projects overseen by Ozer at Landmark Studio Group that will now be developed and produced by Strong Studios as part of the new studio’s acquisition deal with the Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment-owned company include “Shadows in the Vineyard,” starring Judith Light and Noah Wyle, the drama series, “Heartbeat,” co-created by legendary DJ couple Kiss and M.O.S., the horror series “MidNightMares” and more.
Ozer said: “With the growing worldwide demand for content and the acceleration of new streaming services, the environment is ripe for Strong Studios to thrive. With the IP acquisition of a robust slate of content and distribution deal with Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, we are able to hit the ground running with two series ready to head into production, while we begin developing our own pipeline of original IP. I am thrilled with the opportunity to launch Strong Studios and further expand Ballantyne Strong’s position in the global media marketplace.”
“We congratulate Strong Studios on this new venture and are excited to be able to continue to work with David Ozer and distribute their pipeline of exciting programming,” William J. Rouhana Jr., chairman and chief executive officer of Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, added.