An investment firm backed by Blackstone and run by onetime Disney colleagues Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs has taken a minority stake in Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith’s Westbrook Inc.
The deal, confirmed to Deadline by a person familiar with the investment, followed discussions of a full acquisition of the company led by Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith. Westbrook has had a hand in film and TV productions like King Richard, released last year by Warner Bros, as well as Facebook talk show Red Table Talk and a number of widely seen titles on Snapchat and other digital platforms.
Financial terms were not immediately available. It has been a seller’s market for anyone in the content business, with deals last year for MGM and a host of smaller players whipping up interest in dozens of other candidates.
The stake is the latest in a series of aggressive moves by Mayer and Staggs, who hung out their shingle last year. They closed 2021 with the acquisition of Fauda producer Faraway Road, after earlier acquiring Moonbug Entertainment, which makes popular preschool shows like CoComelon, as well as Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine. The Moonbug deal was valued at $3 billion and Hello Sunshine at $900 million.
The Smiths launched Westbrook in 2019, incorporating into it Overbrook Entertainment, the production outfit derived from a neighborhood in Will Smith’s native Philadelphia. Smith and James Lassiter founded Overbrook in 1998. Film blockbusters like I Am Legend, Hitch and Hancock were the original mainstays of Overbrook, but it went on to add TV projects like the Karate Kid reboot Cobra Kai, a popular title on Netflix.
The Information and The Wall Street Journal had the first reports of the Blackstone-backed investment in Westbrook.
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