Candle Media to Split Animation, Live-Action Businesses, Cut Costs

The Blackstone-backed studio will fold animation projects into Moonbug Entertainment and rebrand their live-action division to Candle Studios


Candle Media, the Blackstone-backed studio run by former Disney executives Tom Staggs and Kevin Mayer, is cutting costs by combining the production companies in its portfolio focused on live-action, including Hello Sunshine, Exile, True Stories and “Fauda” creator Faraway Road, TheWrap has learned.

The live-action division, which will be rebranded to Candle Studios, will be run by Hello Sunshine chief Sarah Harden. Animation projects, meanwhile, will be folded into Moonbug Entertainment, which is known for “CoComelon” and accounted for the majority of Candle’s profits last year.

Mayer told TheWrap that Moonbug has reached “critical mass” and is “self-sustaining,” but he acknowledged that it “doesn’t intersect with other things we’re doing at live-action in a meaningful way … We’ve evolved into two companies.”

“We are excited to announce that in order to continue to drive and enhance the collaboration and synergies that are core to Candle’s vision, mission and culture, we have organized our live-action, premium content capabilities into a newly formed Candle Studios division, which will be led by the incomparable Sarah Harden, who will serve as its CEO,” Candle Media co-CEOs Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs said in a Tuesday statement. “This will bring all of our live-action properties into one division, with each benefiting from a go-to-market strategy and shared resources, while retaining their unique brand identity, audience profiles and day-to-day creative and business leadership.”

Candle, which received an initial investment of around $1 billion from Blackstone in 2021, acquired a controlling stake in Hello Sunshine in August of that year in a deal valued at $900 million.

Moonbug was sold to Candle Media for about $3 billion in November 2021, while Faraway was acquired in January 2022 for under $50 million.  

Additionally, Candle acquired the Gen Z and millennial-focused digital media firm ATTN for around $100 million in May 2022.

The move comes after last year’s Hollywood strikes, a pullback in spending across the entertainment industry and a decline in advertising reportedly weighed on its studios’ profit targets.

At the time, a Blackstone spokesperson told TheWrap that the company was a “highly profitable, high-quality business with world-class talent and creative output that has had significant organic growth since our investments.”

“As with virtually everyone else in this industry, there has been an impact from once-in-a-generation strikes, but we are confident about how well positioned Candle is for further earnings growth going forward,” they added.

Semafor reported that Candle has approximately $1.4 billion in debt, held by Wall Street lenders including Ares, HPS and Blackstone itself. In addition to “CoComelon” and “Fauda,” Candle’s brands’ credits include Apple TV+’s “The Morning Show” and Hulu’s “Little Fires Everywhere.”

Representatives for Blackstone did not immediately return TheWrap’s request for comment. The news of the move was first reported by Semafor.


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