“Baroness Von Sketch Show” producer Frantic Films has bought back the company from embattled parent Kew Media Group.
Frantic Films founder Jamie Brown has personally financed the deal to reacquire 100% ownership of the firm, which was bought by Kew in March 2017. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed.
Following the deal, Brown will continue to helm Frantic Films out of Winnipeg and Toronto, with the leadership, wider staff and production pipeline unaffected.
The 20-year-old Frantic Films produces programming across lifestyle, factual, reality, sports, comedy and scripted, with stand-out titles including “Backyard Builds” (HGTV), “The Stats of Life” (CBC) and the 2019 Rose d’Or-winning “Baroness Von Sketch Show” (CBC/IFC) and “Still Standing” (CBC). The business recently racked up 13 nominations for the 2020 Canadian Screen Awards.
Brown, CEO and executive producer of Frantic Films, said: “After 20 years of domestic and international production success, this marks the beginning of a new chapter for our company. We’re moving forward with an exciting current production and development slate and a new vision for 2020 and beyond.”
Kew Media Group recently ceased trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange, following a period of financial turmoil for the Canadian firm, which has a debt load of $79 million.
Kew Media Group was launched in 2017 by Alliance Atlantis’s Peter Sussman and Blue Ice Group co-founder Steven Silver, who set up shop as a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), a vehicle that drums up investment through an IPO, with funds then used to acquire existing companies.
In a massive buying spree, Kew Media Group snapped up several prominent Canadian production companies for CAD$104 million ($78 million), including Frantic Films, Bristow Global Media and Our House Media, as well as London-based film and TV distributor Content Media and, later, factual distribution firm TCB Media. It also took stakes in a number of outfits, such as Two Rivers Media and Awesome Media.
However, most of its production portfolio is now looking to exit the firm ahead of a court decision next month that could see the company liquidated and all remaining assets sold.
Two Rivers bought back Kew’s stake in the business last month, while it is understood that Awesome is also courting offers from various investors. Meanwhile, TCB is trying to extricate itself from Kew Media Group as well, and is far along in the process of navigating a new deal that could even see owner Paul Heaney buying back the company himself.
As revealed by Variety last month, among the filmmakers affected by Kew’s implosion was the team behind “Leaving Neverland,” who were heavily out of pocket. Producers have since taken back rights to the film.