'America The Brave'

Source: Wildstar

‘America The Brave’

Fremantle has acquired a majority stake in Bristol-based natural history producer Wildstar Films, whose slate boasts Disney+ and National Geographic projects.

The deal will allow Wildstar’s co-founders Mark Linfield and Vanessa Berlowitz to benefit from Fremantle’s infrastructure, distribution and specialist support across 27 territories to capitalise on the growing demand from global players for premium factual and specialist factual content.

The indie was founded in 2018 by Linfield and Berlowitz, whose string of blue-chip credits include BBC1’s Planet Earth and Frozen Planet. Recent Wildstar projects include America The Beautiful and America’s National Parks for National Geographic, and Epic Adventures With Bertie Gregory for Disney+.

The indie is currently working on two feature-length films for Disneynature and multiple series for Disney+ and National Geographic, including Sentient, a co-pro with Darren Aronofsky’s Protozoa Pictures, and Queens.

Wildstar recently added former BBC Natural History Unit head of development Doug Mackay-Hope as senior vice president of development and production and Nigel Buck as executive editor. It generated revenues of £19m for the 12 months to 30 April, according to results posted on Companies House.

Linfield and Berlowitz said: “Fremantle is a fantastic fit as a partner – we share a similar culture and the same ambition of working with the best talent on- and off-screen to make genre-defining shows.”

The agreement follows Fremantle’s acquisition of 72 Films last week, as the super-indie doubles down on its premium documentary films and series output.

Elsewhere this year, Fremantle has also increased its investments in Dancing Ledge Productions and Label1 to take majority stakes, while buying into Irish outfit Element Pictures Italy’s Lux Vide, Fabel and Australian-American firm Eureka. It also acquired 12 Scandinavian production labels from Nordic Entertainment Group.

Fremantle’s parent company RTL has tasked it with generating annual revenue of £2.5bn by 2025, having generated £1.5bn in revenues over the nine months to September.

This story first appeared on Screen’s sister site Broadcast