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Korean firm behind ‘Parasite’ buys Endeavor Content’s scripted unit for $775 million

Lin-Manuel Miranda as Piragüero and Christopher Jackson as the Mr. Softee Truck Driver in a scene from "In the Heights."
Lin-Manuel Miranda as Piragüero and Christopher Jackson as the Mister Softee truck driver in a scene from the film “In the Heights,” one of Endeavor Content’s major hits.
(Macall Polay / Warner Bros.)

CJ ENM, the South Korean entertainment company behind the Oscar-winning film “Parasite,” said Thursday that it is acquiring the scripted business of Endeavor Content.

The Seoul-based company said it is acquiring 80% of the scripted division of Endeavor Content, the production division of Endeavor, for $775 million. The sale marks CJ’s biggest Hollywood acquisition to date.

Beverly Hills-based Endeavor will retain 20% of the scripted business along with the nonscripted portion of Endeavor Content, certain documentary and film sales and financial consulting services. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter.

“We are confident that this deal will create synergy between both companies, globally acknowledged for their production capabilities and list of hit IP properties,” said Kang Ho-Sung, chief executive of CJ ENM.

WME and the WGA reached a deal Friday, ending a year-plus standoff that blocked writers from working with the agency over union concerns over packaging and Endeavor Content.

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The sale allows Endeavor to comply with an agreement it reached with the Writers Guild of America in February that required it to sell down its ownership stake in scripted production content to 20%. The move was sparked by the union’s concerns that agencies were putting their own economic interests ahead of their writer clients.

Launched in 2017, Endeavor Content has owned, financed or sold more than 125 films or TV series, including Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical movie “In the Heights,” and distributed popular series such as “Killing Eve.”

Endeavor Content is part of the larger company’s aggressive and controversial strategy to expand beyond traditional deal-making into owning content.

Endeavor Content’s co-CEOs Graham Taylor and Chris Rice will remain in their positions.

“We are thrilled for this next chapter as we seek to unlock even greater value for talent and our producer partners,” Taylor and Rice said in a statement. “With the addition of CJ ENM, our mission to empower creators and foster an inclusive environment that promotes diverse content on a global scale only grows stronger.”

Korean firm JTBC Studios is expanding its U.S. footprint, with plans to acquire a majority stake in Century City-based wiip, the production house behind shows like “Dickinson” on Apple TV+.

CJ ENM’s deal comes at a time when South Korean entertainment is thriving and companies are looking for ways to expand their reach, especially into markets such as the U.S.

This year, Creative Artists Agency also sold down the majority stake of its production company Wiip to South Korean production company JTBC Studios.

A subsidiary of South Korean entertainment company HYBE in April acquired Scooter Braun’s Ithaca Holdings for $1.05 billion.

Before its Endeavor Content deal, CJ ENM invested in studio Skydance last year as part of a $275-million strategic funding round with other investors. The company is also producing a TV adaptation of “Parasite” that will be released on HBO.

CJ Entertainment has invested in David Ellison’s Skydance Media, which stumbled recently with box office flops including ‘Gemini Man’ and ‘Terminator: Dark Fate.’

Endeavor, which went public this year, said in its most recent earnings call that Endeavor Content will continue to be a strong business for the company. Endeavor also owns talent agency WME and mixed martial arts league UFC.

“We’re very successful in that advisory business, nonscripted documentary space and will continue to be, and we see the demand from the streamers, from linear players, only increasing the mix,” Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel said on the earnings call.


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