This year alone, “Bad Moms” studio STX has branched out into unscripted TV, music and virtual reality. Now, it’s taking on branded content.
On Friday, STX announced that it has reached an agreement with Canadian interactive media company The Young Astronauts to co-produce and co-develop short-form digital video content for celebrity influencers and brands. The agreement will also allow STX to expand its capabilities into mobile app development and managing social media for prominent online personalities.
The Young Astronauts has worked with household names like Bruno Mars, Drake, Red Bull and Nike. Content produced by the company was streamed more than 10 billion times in 2015 across all platforms.
“STX is committed to providing a one-stop shop for talented storytellers and artists to work with us across all media, whether it be through film, television, innovative online content or even virtual reality,” STX President Sophie Watts said in a statement. “Enlisting The Young Astronauts is a powerful way we can collaborate with music and celebrity talent and brands to find the platform that best serves their voice and engages with their fans across digital, mobile and social.”
Toronto-based The Young Astronauts will maintain its Canadian headquarters, but will set up a permanent shop at STX’s Burbank campus.
“STX Entertainment and The Young Astronauts both share a true understanding of global media and how to unlock significant opportunities in the changing media landscape,” The Young Astronauts Co-Founders Nev Todorovic and Tyler Savery said in the statement. “We look forward to adding our own capabilities to their platform and expanding the scope of our work across all traditional and interactive formats, so together, we can give stars, brands and storytellers the best opportunities to make their mark across a diverse set of platforms, in new and disruptive ways.”
Robert Simonds founded STX in 2014 with a star-centric philosophy and plans to spend up to $1 billion a year to produce about a dozen movies anchored by A-listers. STX has released seven films to date, with mixed results.
“Bad Moms” became a massive hit on a $20 million budget, making $179 million worldwide and spawning a “Bad Dads” spinoff, but “Free State of Jones” made just $23 million worldwide on a $50 million budget.
However, part of STX’s strategy is to use those headliners as linchpins for cross-platform content, like TV shows and digital series in the U.S. or around the world, helping them to enhance their brand and draw income from multiple avenues. To that end, STX has dramatically grown its non-movie lines of business this year.
STX opened an international division in London earlier this year and has deep ties to China, the world’s second-biggest movie market — and closing in on the top spot. China’s Hony Capital was a founding investor in the studio. In August, STX received a strategic investment from Chinese tech and media giant Tencent and Hong Kong’s PCCW to fund its expansion into music, VR, mobile and digital content which valued the studio at about $1.5 billion. STX acquired VR firm Surreal Inc. later in August.
The studio also signed content partnerships with Tencent and PCCW, further deepening its roots in Asia. STX had inked a co-financing deal with China’s Huayi Bros. Media last year.