Reese Witherspoon sold her media company Hello Sunshine for $900 million

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Reese Witherspoon has had a few production companies over the course of her career, but Hello Sunshine has been the most successful, and that is her current production/media company. About six years ago, Reese had a come-to-Jesus moment where she realized that if she wanted to get good parts and see actresses of her generation get good parts then she would need to start at the beginning, putting everything together herself. Hello Sunshine has done just that, with projects like Gone Girl, Wild, Big Little Lies, The Morning Show and Little Fires Everywhere. Reese also used the Hello Sunshine media umbrella to launch a book club, a podcast, a speaking tour, and an interview show. And now after all of that successful building, Reese is selling. She’s selling Hello Sunshine for a reported $900 million!!

Reese Witherspoon’s media company, Hello Sunshine (Little Fires Everywhere), has been sold to a firm backed by private-equity giant Blackstone Group. Terms are not disclosed. According to the WSJ, which first reported the deal, it values the company at about $900 million. The new media venture Blackstone is backing will be run by former Walt Disney Co. executives Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs, with Hello Sunshine as its first acquisition. Witherspoon and Hello Sunshine CEO Sarah Harden will join the board of the as-yet-unnamed company and will continue to operate Hello Sunshine.

According to the WSJ, Blackstone is spending more than $500 million in cash to purchase shares from existing Hello Sunshine investors, including AT&T and Emerson Collective. Witherspoon and some Hello Sunshine executives and investors will roll over the remaining equity into ownership stakes in the newly formed company.

Witherspoon’s star power and her ability to turn books into successful TV series was a main draw for buyers, sources said. The five-year old company does not have a library; it is a producer on most of the Hello Sunshine series but only has some ownership in Little Fires Everywhere.

There is a pipeline of upcoming shows, and Hello Sunshine also operates the influential Reese’s Book Club, which helps establish titles that the company later adapts for the screen.

Hello Sunshine’s eye-popping $900 million sale price illustrates the arms race for content in the streaming age and the value of a star-driven venture, with Witherspoon also a force in the consumer product market with her clothing line. For comparison, Amazon is the process of acquiring MGM, a studio with a storied, century-long history and extensive library, for $8.45 billion. The Hello Sunshine deal also will give other independent companies that have been shopping themselves, including LeBron James’ SpringHill, A24 and Imagine, a lift in their search for buyers.

“I started this company to change the way all women are seen in media,” Witherspoon said. “Today, we’re taking a huge step forward by partnering with Blackstone, which will enable us to tell even more entertaining, impactful and illuminating stories about women’s lives globally.”

[From Deadline]

It’s entirely good news for Reese – she still has her vision intact, she still has power within the company she created and now she has the money, support and backing to do even more. I would even argue that what Blackstone is really buying is Reese’s eye for which projects will make good film or television adaptations, as well as Reese’s ability to put those projects together successfully. Reese has really consolidated her power in recent years, but this isn’t just a #GetMoneyBitch moment. She is, I believe, fully committed to bringing more diverse stories to film and television, and to hiring more diverse talent behind the camera too.

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Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Backgrid.

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21 Responses to “Reese Witherspoon sold her media company Hello Sunshine for $900 million”

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  1. Jen says:

    Prior to said awakening, I was a PA on set for a movie she did. This was YEARS ago and she was not kind at all. She’s made a real effort to change and listen.

    • Astrid says:

      This is a good move for her and congrats. However, I’m still remember her drunken rage at a police officer when she and her husband were pulled over for a DUI and she shouted “do you know who I am?”

      • McGee says:

        Blackstone as buyer is bad news.
        I’d encourage everyone to look a bit deeper, because not only are they contributing to housing shortages and homelessness across the country, those guys run with a lot of the bad dudes we’ve all been talking about the last five years.

        That this company is using this move to get into a media position is concerning.

    • Becks1 says:

      I’ve heard that from the few random people I know who know her (I have a lot of college friends from Nashville lol and then a few random people from hollywood) – that she wasn’t nice years ago but that she seems to have grown and changed a lot. And she is definitely focused on putting out women-focused projects. When I heard this I thought she was giving up all control but it seems she’s still going to be involved, she’s just going to have more money to develop and support her projects? So good for her.

      • Digital Unicorn says:

        Yeah – she has an eye for a good book to adapt. I remember reading an interview with Kaley Cucco over The Flight Attendant and her first question to her team was ‘Has Reese Witherspoon bought the rights to this?’.

      • Sally says:

        I think Reese knew that being “women-focused” would give her an edge in a very competitive industry.

      • SKF says:

        @digitalunicorn I mean, yes; but realistically she is just choosing really popular, well-written books of a certain type and appeal. Good content with broad appeal. The books that every book club reads. I had read every single book she produced before she produced it and thought: this would make a good TV show or movie. What’s shocking is how few in Hollywood seem to actually read and read well! They’re too focused on remakes and reboots.

        The other thing she did was recognise that there is a huge market and appetite for women-led stories, and those women don’t have to be under 30. Which in Hollywood is somehow groundbreaking.

        She is clearly a talented producer, although I don’t think she ever credited her producing mentor and original producing partner Bruna Papandrea enough. Bruna now helps Nicole Kidman on her projects and is known as one of the best in the biz. She’s also really talented at recognising a good book.

        I’m pleased to see this, I’m pleased to see the content she produces, I’m pleased to see other women like Margot and Nicole producing too. I love seeing talented women of all types centred in compelling content. The more that do so and are backed to do so, the better the content we will all get.

    • DuchessL says:

      I dont know Reese, but I always believe it when people say someone very successful isnt easy to work with. I think a lot of ambitious women often need to be louder to get people to at least listen, but i think that is changing and we, as women, wouldn’t need to be loud or “difficult” if the world wasnt what it is now. She could not have made it if she wasnt gonna be like that in an industry made of men. Fortunately, it is changing and one day I hope we’ll be able to be just ourselves without the need to be authoritarian to be successful.

      • The best story to exemplify this is that Bjork, BJORK, the genius goddess, has said that every time she goes into a studio guys start telling her what to do, and if SHE gets told what to do, you can imagine what it’s like for every other woman. I mostly know people from production, but yes, as a woman you absolutely have to be stronger and stronger in your vision and affect to survive

  2. Sumodo1 says:

    All I can think is: Get it, get it, get it Girl!!!

  3. B says:

    I wish more actresses would do this. Even 20 something year old Margot Robbie had to start producing before she got quality roles.

    • Digital Unicorn says:

      I LOVED Robbie in I, Tonya!!!!

    • Goldie says:

      I think most A-list and even some B/C list actresses are producing projects. They just haven’t all had the amazing success that Reese has had. She’s definitely one of the most successful actors turned producers, along with Brad Pitt and his Plan B.

    • Lara says:

      What??? Margot had been in very few features before she started her own production company. It’s not like she was slaving away for years in thankless roles. She got the chance to do it cause she’s young and hot.

      • B says:

        True, she found it in 2014 but the first feature film (I,Tonya) didn’t come out until 2017. She started getting better roles after it came out and after she received the Oscar nomination. It was a massive career boost but she had to produce it to for it happen. She was very smart to do it so early in her career!

    • questions says:

      I think Natalie Portman had her own production company, but then said she wasn’t good at producing. Not sure what’s happened since then.

      Maybe Gwyneth could have done this — she partners with other companies (I think?) But I guess she likes the weird candles she sells instead. She has the opportunities. Her company is said to be worth a lot (maybe) but my eyes popped when I saw the figure on Reese’s headline.

      I think a lot of young women in Hollywood have their own companies. They’re probably not worth as much as 900 million and don’t get the headlines. But I always see celebrity X owning something.

  4. Laalaa says:

    I applaud her for doing this. I agree with the comments above, she has flaws from her past, but we all do, and I believe women should be given the opportunity to change because we give the same to men all the time.
    To me she is a feminist in the best possible way. And she really supports women in the business.
    She is a powerful businesswoman!

  5. Gk says:

    I wonder how Much of Hello Sunshine she owned, reading the article it sounds like her share was rolled into the shares in the acquiring company but curious how much it is Reese’s like 25%, 50%? Cause it mentions part of HS owned by att/ Emerson.

  6. lucy2 says:

    Good for her and the Hello Sunshine team.
    I’ve really enjoyed most of the projects they’ve done.