Reese Witherspoon explains why now was the right time to sell Hello Sunshine
For Reese Witherspoon, selling her media company Hello Sunshine was just the next step in bringing more women-led film and television projects to the masses.
The actress, who founded the company in 2016, told CNBC’s Julia Boorstin on Tuesday at Tech Check that this cash injection will help the fledgling entertainment company grow exponentially.
“We’re just doubling our mission,” said Witherspoon. “Now we have the opportunity to tell more stories, hire more women filmmakers, and encourage even more authors.”
Hello Sunshine has been courting a number of offerings, including one from Apple. A majority stake is bought by a company that owns the Blackstone Group and is led by former Disney executives Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs. One person familiar with the deal said it was worth about $ 900 million.
“When we founded the company 4½ years ago, we had a very specific intention of how we wanted to build,” says CEO Sarah Harden. “We took a step back and asked ourselves how we are positioning ourselves for the next five to ten years of growth?”
Witherspoon and Harden will continue to oversee the day-to-day operations of Hello Sunshine and join the board of directors of the yet-to-be-named company.
Hello Sunshine began creating content for female voices and has produced shows such as “Big Little Lies” by HBO, “Little Fires Everywhere” by Hulus and “The Morning Show” by Apple.
With so many streaming options out there, there is a lot of catching up to do in terms of content. With Blackstone’s support, Hello Sunshine will be able to produce more shows and films, which makes it attractive to these platforms. Not to mention, it has a solid track record of making Emmy nominations.
The company was able to find out what its audience wanted through social media, Witherspoon said. The actress is actively involved with this community, especially those who are part of Reese’s Book Club. Witherspoon, an avid reader, has chosen a number of books for television series.
“Seven years ago we didn’t have such opportunities,” she said. “I made films in a vacuum. I never really knew who she was seeing, what her feelings were. Now I have this really great one-on-one relationship with people all over social media. … We can really get it out and tease exactly what the audience wants to see. “
In addition to a studio with a script, Hello Sunshine also produces shows without a script and founded a children’s animation department 18 months ago.
“I’m excited to expand our mission to animation so we can reach more young women with this idea that women can be the heroes of their own stories and do so authentically with real female creators,” said Witherspoon.
Disclosure: Comcast has an interest in Hulu and is the parent company of NBCUniversal and CNBC.