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Elisabeth Murdoch, Stacey Snider and Jane Featherstone form new production company

Sister Murdoch Snider
Jane Featherstone, from left, Elisabeth Murdoch and Stacey Snider are co-founders of the new production company Sister.
(Luke Varley / Sister)

Media executives Elisabeth Murdoch, Stacey Snider and Jane Featherstone have launched a new entertainment production company called Sister, capitalizing on the growing demand for content among streaming services.

The new firm, based in London with additional offices in Los Angeles, will develop movies and TV shows with a focus on supporting new and visionary talent, the women said in a statement. The company will be built on the foundation of Featherstone’s Emmy Award-winning indie production house, Sister Pictures.

Murdoch, daughter of Rupert Murdoch, is the lead investor in the new venture and will serve as executive chairman. Snider, the former 20th Century Fox Film chair; and Featherstone, the television producer and former Shine executive, are also investing. Financial details of the investment were not disclosed.

The move comes as major media companies are spending top dollar for content to gird for the streaming wars with Netflix and Amazon.com. A decade ago, there was little appetite for independent productions beyond art-house films, but the growth of streaming platforms has revitalized the market for independent producers.

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The announcement ends months of speculation over what Snider’s next move would be after exiting Fox following that company’s acquisition by Walt Disney Co. in March. Before her tenure at Fox, Snider was a top executive at Steven Spielberg’s DreamWorks and at Universal Pictures, where she oversaw franchises such as “The Mummy” and “American Pie” and critically acclaimed movies including “Brokeback Mountain.”

Snider had been considered a candidate to replace Warner Bros. Chief Executive Kevin Tsujihara, but the job went to former BBC executive Ann Sarnoff.

Featherstone will become head of Sister London and Snider will serve as global chief executive and head of Sister LA.

Sister Pictures, known for shows including HBO’s “Chernobyl” and the British drama “Broadchurch,” has a staff of 26 in London, the company said. In 2019, it produced 25 hours of scripted television per year, which will rise to 32 hours per year in 2020.

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“We are fortunate to be well capitalized to have the independence and confidence to write our own rules, to be bold and bespoke in the choices we make, and to utilize our resources to champion visionary storytellers,” the women said in a statement. “And to those storytellers we say — come and be brave, come and be rebellious, come and do your best work.”

Upcoming titles include Season 2 of “The Split” for BBC One, an adaptation of Naomi Alderman’s novel “The Power” for Amazon, and Adam Kay’s adaptation of his international bestseller “This Is Going To Hurt” for the BBC.

The London-based Murdoch, who once worked within the family empire, has emerged as its leading second-generation entrepreneur by launching a number of start-ups. In addition to the Shine TV production company, which produces “MasterChef” and “The Island With Bear Grylls,” she has gained success with Vertical Networks, a Los Angeles-based supplier of app-based content for mobile devices. Snap, the parent of Snapchat, is a minority investor in Vertical Networks, which makes shows for Snapchat, Facebook and YouTube.

Times staff writer Meg James contributed to this report.


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