The independent digital programmer Machinima will no longer be independent.
Warner Bros. says it’s finalized an agreement that would give it controlling ownership of the popular online producer in a deal reportedly worth nearly $100 million.
But that doesn’t mean Machinima is going away. Instead, according to Variety, it will become a division of the new digital networks group at Warner Bros., which will focus on not just digital but also over-the-top (direct subscription streaming like HBO Now) offerings.
At the same time, it could help boost Warner’s work with DC Comics, opening the door for more digital collaborations.
Warner is no stranger to Machinima. The studio invested $18 million into the company in 2014, and added another $24 million early the next year. The buyout will help make other investors whole, including Google and Machinima founder Allen DeBevoise.
Chad Gutstein, the current chief executive at Machinima, hailed the full takeover in a statement as a chance to really work with all the offerings that are part of the Warner Bros. library.
“Since making their first investment in Machinima in 2014, Warner Bros. has been an active business partner in our transformation, so we already have proof points as to how the companies can work together to accelerate Machinima’s growth plans. We’ll now be able to take full advantage of Warner Bros.’ intellectual property, sales and distribution, while still creating content for social and premium digital platforms that gamers and geeks love.”
Although Machinima is one of YouTube’s biggest channels with some 150 million viewers each month, the company actually predates YouTube by five years. It was founded in 2000 as a company that stayed pretty true to its name – using real-time computer graphic engines to create a cinematic production.
One of Machinima’s latest projects is an effort to revive Knight Rider with Star Trek: Beyond director Justin Lin. In that deal, Machinima partnered with Lin’s production company YOMYOMF, as well as NBC Universal, with the hopes of having it on the air sometime next year.
Warner Bros.’ purchase is expected to close early next year.
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