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Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine sells in $900-million deal

Reese Witherspoon arriving at the 2020 Golden Globe Awards red carpet in a white ruffled gown.
Reese Witherspoon arrives at the 77th Golden Globe Awards in January 2020 at the Beverly Hilton.
(Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times)

Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine, the production entity behind shows such as “Big Little Lies,” has been acquired by a newly formed media company launched by former Walt Disney Co. executives.

Witherspoon’s company on Monday said it received a majority investment from the firm formed by ex-Disney executives Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs and private equity giant Blackstone. The deal values Hello Sunshine at more than $900 million, according to a person close to the company who was not authorized to comment.

The deal is the latest sign of the thirst for content in Hollywood amid the growth of streaming services, including Netflix, HBO Max and Hulu, competing for viewers’ attention.

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In addition to “Big Little Lies” on HBO, Hello Sunshine produced “The Morning Show” on Apple TV+ and “Little Fires Everywhere” on Hulu.

The film was released simultaneously in theaters and on Disney+ for $30. Stars are worried such releases are eating into their pay.

Hello Sunshine, founded in 2016 by the “Legally Blonde” star, was among a growing collection of production companies that have been seeking deals at lofty valuations. The ramp up in deal speculation comes after Amazon reached an agreement to purchase MGM Studios for $8.45 billion, pending regulatory approval.

“Moonlight” producer A24, LeBron James’ SpringHill and “Godzilla vs. Kong” studio Legendary Entertainment have all been subjects of recent deal talks.

Hello Sunshine, which was said to be worth as much as $1 billion and had received interest from Apple, is the first of those to actually get a deal.

Witherspoon and Hello Sunshine’s current management, including Chief Executive Sarah Harden, will continue to oversee the operation and remain significant shareholders, the company said. Witherspoon and Harden will join the board of the new, currently unnamed media company.

This is the first deal by Mayer and Staggs’ Blackstone-backed media company, which they formed earlier this year to invest in the growing content space. Mayer previously was head of Disney’s direct-to-consumer business, including Disney+, before his brief tenure as CEO of TikTok. Staggs was chief operating officer at Disney before stepping down in 2016.


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