EXCLUSIVE: Australia’s Princess Productions is acquiring Irish company Boulder Media from toy giant Hasbro, we have learned.
The deal is the most notable M&A in the international animation market in some time. It closed earlier this month, providing Princess with expanded production services for its internal and third-party projects and enabling it to push into development in Ireland. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Boulder is one of Ireland’s biggest animation studios, having worked at Hasbro’s Transformers and My little pony franchising and television programs such as Go Jeters and Danger mouse. Its sale to Hasbro in 2016 was seen as an important sign of intent of the US toymaker’s desire to make and own more content. Hasbro later acquired Pepper pig and PJ masks owner eOne but is now focusing more on Hasbro-branded IP and has its other entertainment assets under strategic review.
Princess is known for animated series for adults such as Adult Swim’s Yolo Crystal Fantasy and Yolo Silver Destiny and currently works at Hulu and 20th Television Animation’s Koala man through its joint venture with Bento Box Entertainment, Princess Bento. Stars attached to that show include Sarah Snook, Demi Lardner, Jermaine Clement, Rachel House and Jarrad Wright. It has its own busy animation studio in Melbourne providing production services to in-house shows and third party projects such as Adult Swim’s Smiling friends; a list of Australian comedy projects; and has produced comedies such as the Chris Lilley Show We Can Be Heroes: Finding the Australian of the Year (aka The nominees), Summer Heights High and Jonah from Tongaalong with documents and podcasts.
Founded in 2000, Dublin-based Boulder has extensive experience in providing animation services and producing television programs and features. Viewers include Disney’s Wander over there and Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja, Transformers: Rescue Bots Academy and Transformers: Cyberverse for eOne, several My little pony projects, BBC and Fremantle series Danger mouseBBC’s Go Jeters and Cartoon Networks The Fantastic World of Gumball among others.
“We are very pleased to join Boulder Media in the Princess Pictures group,” said Princess Pictures CEO Emma Fitzsimons. “In Boulder, we have found a studio that boasts not only top-notch artists, but also relatives who share our humor and passion for great stories. Boulder Media has an established reputation in the production of animation for children, and we will add a new focus: prime-time adult comedy production.”
“This synergistic relationship opens up unique opportunities for our future slate and enables us to strengthen our creative offering in the marketplace,” added Boulder CEO Jenni MacNeaney. “It’s an exciting step forward in building the Boulder brand, one that values the great work we’ve produced over the past 22 years, while preparing for future success.”
Fitzsimons said new hires would soon follow for Boulder and Princess’ Australian studio and gave Deadline a taste of the direction in Europe.
“Whether it’s animation or live action, we’ve always championed brilliant creative talent and given them all the support they need to get their show on screen,” she said. “We will continue that ethos in Ireland and are looking for great storytellers who have a clear vision and something to say. We are particularly interested in underrepresented voices who offer a perspective on the world that a global audience may not have heard before.”
She added that while comedy “is still the most popular genre for adult animation, and Ireland has such a rich tradition of comedy that we’d be mad not to embrace it”, there are “other opportunities for different genres.”
Fitzsimons added that the growth of YouTube and global streamers had “introduced American audiences to international talent and shows in a much bigger way than ever before.”
“The floodgates are open now and America’s appetite for diverse voices from foreign countries is not going away, so we expect to continue to be able to bring Australian and now hopefully Irish talent to American and global buyers.”