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Imagine Entertainment Acquires Majority Stake in Marginal Mediaworks

Company focuses on uplifting narratives from marginalized voices

Brian Grazer and Ron Howard’s Imagine Entertainment has taken a majority stake in Marginal Mediaworks, a media company focused on genre storytelling from marginalized voices.

Grazer and Howard announced on Tuesday along with Marginal CEO Sanjay Sharma, that Imagine had made a strategic investment in Marginal, which develops and produces controlled budget films, premium short and longform series, podcasts and other forms of IP incubation, with an emphasis on horror, thriller, comedy, science fiction, and aspirational narratives from marginalized voices.

“We are thrilled to get behind Sanjay and his vision to create a new media brand and collective for diverse, emerging and established voices across media formats,” Grazer and Howard said in a joint statement. “We are excited by new models that can create paradigm changes in the industry, and allow fresh perspectives to emerge. We also believe there are tremendous opportunities for cross-pollination between Imagine and our many other new initiatives.”

Sharma founded Marginal in 2017 premised on the convergence of two forces – the impact of technology on the filmed entertainment business, and the impact of demographics and culture.

“It’s time for a new type of content company and approach that delivers narratives from people of color, women, the LGBTQ community, immigrants and other outside voices,” Sharma said in a statement.  “We are increasingly globally connected and culturally intertwined.  Over half the world is Asian.  American youth are already nearly minority/majority.  The audience demands representation in content and our mission is to give voice to diverse storytellers who want to move culture.”

Marginal partners with a wide range of players from studios to streaming services, social platforms to telcos, both in the U.S. and abroad.  The company’s controlled film budgets and new media formats enables it to back auteur-minded established and emerging filmmakers, with greater creative control.

Marginal has half a dozen film projects in the works, as well as several podcasts, a graphic novel, and a videogame IP.  The company has primarily focused on high concept, story-driven original IP. In addition to diverse filmmakers in the US, Marginal is also actively exploring international talent, in particular in Asia and South America, as well as local language projects and partners.  Marginal also partners with producers, media firms, brands and marketers about the intersection of premium narrative storytelling, technology and cultural intersectionality.

Sharma began as an intellectual property, technology transactions and entertainment lawyer before shifting careers in favor of technology startups. Sharma helped start and lead Machinima, which was acquired by Warner Bros in 2016.  Most recently, he was the Chief Executive of ALL DEF, a leading digital media brand in hip hop and urban content.

Imagine has been making strategic moves in the last two years to scale up the company’s operations and invest in growth opportunities. It launched Imagine Documentaries, the documentary and branded entertainment division which recently announced its first docuseries, “She The People,” created and produced by Sarah Jones.  Imagine also acquired Jax Media which is behind “Full Frontal With Samantha Bee,” “Inside Amy Schumer,” and the upcoming Desus and Mero Series on Showtime.

“The support of the Imagine team is an incredible validation and accelerant for me as I’ve been quietly building our thesis and project pipeline this past year.  From ‘8 Mile’ to ‘Friday Night Lights,’ ‘CB4’ to ‘Inside Man,’ ‘Apollo 13’ to ‘Empire,’ the list is endless, Brian and Ron have always championed culturally resonant voices and cutting edge talent,” Sharma said. “As Imagine scales across documentaries, comedy and premium branded work, their broader partnership and backing will help us scale opportunities across a wide pipeline of talent and ideas.”