Fremantle has taken a minority stake in independent developer Artists, Writers & Artisans Inc.
The company co-led an investment round with James Murdoch’s Lupa Systems alongside new capital from long-term backers of AWA and a “number of strategic individual investors with expertise in production, finance, sports, human rights and technology.” In addition to Lupa Systems, other AWA backers include Lightspeed Venture Partners and Sister.
AWA Studios, AWA’s film and TV arm helmed by Hollywood veteran Zach Studin, will benefit from Fremantle’s strategic input and investment, while also “unlocking the specialist expertise of the global content powerhouse, its infrastructure and its renowned international distribution footprint,” the companies said in a joint release on Tuesday.
The size of Fremantle’s stake was not disclosed.
The investment builds upon Fremantle and AWA’s partnership forged in April 2022, which saw the companies come together to collaborate on a slate of TV projects based on AWA’s rapidly expanding IP library.
The first project on the joint development slate is “Devil’s Highway,” a thriller based on the successful comic series by Benjamin Percy and Brent Schoonover in which a young woman seeks to unravel a sinister mystery hidden in the dark underbelly of the long-haul trucking industry.
AWA was co-founded by Marvel Alum Alex Alonso, who oversees editorial output as the company’s chief creative officer. Since its launch, AWA Studios has quickly amassed a robust film and TV operation, kicked off by the announcement of feature film adaptations of “Chariot” by Bryan Edward Hill and “Priscilla Petraites,” which Warner Bros. acquired in competitive bidding; “Marjorie Finnegan: Temporal
Criminal” by Garth Ennis and Goran Sudzuka, which Ruben Fleischer will direct; and “Hotell” by
John Lees and Dalibor Talajic, to be directed by Elle Callahan, among many additional projects
currently in active development.
In December, AWA formed a creative committee including notable members such as Reginald Hudlin, Gregg Hurwitz, Laeta Kalogridis, Joseph Kosinski, Al Madrigal and J. Michael Straczynski to “help guide
the company on complex creative matters and nurture ideas across a range of platforms.”
The expanded partnership was spearheaded by Andrea Scrosati, Fremantle’s Group COO and
CEO Continental Europe, and Matthew Anderson, co-chair and president of AWA.
“We admire how Fremantle has built on its long-standing strengths to become an international force in scripted drama and film,” Anderson said in a statement. “AWA’s success is built on collaborating with our creators to publish their stories in their purest form and then steering them to their fullest potential in film and TV. Andrea and the Fremantle team share this ethos and we are delighted for the unique opportunities this partnership will provide to our creators.”
“We are delighted to extend our successful partnership with AWA. The collaboration is a perfect strategic fit, giving AWA access to our global footprint, distribution infrastructure and production expertise and putting Fremantle at the very forefront of graphic fiction innovation,” Scrosati added. “I also look forward working closely with Matthew and their world class leadership and creative teams to continue pushing boundaries and building a slate of ground-breaking projects together.”
In addition to its minority stake in AWA, Freemantle has taken majority stakes in in Eureka (Parental Guidance, Holey Moley), Label 1 (Five Dates a Week, Hospital), Element Pictures (Normal People, The Wonder, Conversations With Friends), Dancing Ledge Productions (The Salisbury Poisonings, The Responder), Lux Vide (Devils, Medici) 72 Films (9/11: One Day in America, All or Nothing: Arsenal), Wildstar Films (America the Beautiful, America’s National Parks), Silvio Productions (Buried, The Baby Daddy) and a minority stake in Fabel Entertainment (Bosch).