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    Japan’s Toho Buys 25 Percent Stake in Fifth Season for $225M – The Music news

    Japanese studio Toho has taken a $225 million stake in Fifth Season, the U.S.-based independent studio known for producing Apple TV+’s hit series Severance and Max’s Tokyo Vice. The new partners unveiled the deal Monday, saying it will allow Fifth Season to “continue expanding its broad slate of premium content.”  Korean entertainment giant CJ ENM will retain majority ownership in Fifth Season, while Toho becomes a 25 percent owner and Endeavor Group Holdings continues as a strategic shareholder.

    The deal was unveiled by Fifth Season Co-CEOs Graham Taylor and Chris Rice and Toho president Hiro Matsuoka, who said the agreement will create new opportunities for collaboration between CJ ENM, Fifth Season and Toho, while “bolster[ing] the growth of Fifth Season as a major global studio encompassing East and West cultures.” The new partners will further collaborate on both global content and new titles produced in Japan, while “creative efforts that result from these collaborations will benefit from Fifth Season’s robust global distribution network.”

    Fifth Season, formerly known as Endeavor Content, was established by Hollywood power agency Endeavor in 2017 to boost the group’s content production business. But Endeavor was forced to divest of the outfit in 2021 following prolonged negotiations with the WGA in a battle over packaging rights. Korea’s CJ ENM stepped in as a buyer later that year, taking an 80 percent stake in the production banner in a deal valued at an eye-popping $785 million.

    Toho, one of Japan’s longest-running entertainment conglomerates, is currently riding high at the U.S. box office with Godzilla Minus One, the monster franchise’s acclaimed 37th installment, which has earned $25.3 million since its release on Dec. 1 — an all-time record for a Japanese live-action film in North America.

    “Strategic partnerships are a core piece of our DNA, and we were deliberate in moving forward with a company as successful, storied, and aligned with our goals and values as Toho,” said Taylor and Rice in a joint statement. “With their collaboration, alongside that of the great partnerships with CJ ENM and Endeavor, Fifth Season is positioned better than ever to delight audiences around the world with an expansive slate of top-quality content.”

    Added Koo Chang-gun, CEO of CJ ENM: “We are thrilled to have Toho, the biggest entertainment company in Japan, as our partner at this time when Fifth Season is making significant strides as a global major studio.”

    Along with Severance and Tokyo Vice, Fifth Season is known for Hulu’s Nine Perfect Strangers starring Nicole Kidman, and Hulu’s Life & Beth starring Amy Schumer — both of which are also currently in production on their Season 2. New series in production include Chief of War starring Jason Momoa, Lady in the Lake directed by Sundance award winner Alma Har’el and starring Natalie Portman, and The Savant starring Jessica Chastain. In addition to its own productions, Fifth Season also handles global distribution for a library of series including Killing Eve, The Morning Show, Normal People, and The Night Manager, which recently announced its sequel. On its film side, the studio currently has in theaters Eileen directed by William Oldroyd and starring Thomasin McKenzie and Anne Hathaway. The studio’s upcoming features include Nonnas from director Stephen Chobsky, with a cast led by Vince Vaughn, and Anniversary from writer-director Jan Komasa, starring Diane Lane and Mckenna Grace.

    Fifth Season was advised on the Toho deal by The Raine Group, which acted as exclusive financial advisor, and O’Melveny as legal advisor.

    More to come…

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