NBCUniversal International has acquired a majority stake in local company Matchbox Pictures, providing a global distribution network for the Melbourne-based production company's content.
It is NBCUniversal’s first investment in a production company outside of the UK, where its assets including Carnival, Monkey Kingdom and Chocolate Media. It also runs a joint venture with Working Title Television and has strategic production deals with Lark Productions in Canada and Full Clip Productions in Los Angeles.
The acquisition price was not disclosed.
NBCUniversal International Television Production president, Michael Edelstein, said working with the best creative talent from around the world is integral to the company's growth strategy. "We are excited to work alongside Matchbox and give their content the global reach it deserves,” he said in a statement.
Matchbox, which was founded in 2008, will continue to be run by its founders: Tony Ayres, Helen Bowden, Penny Chapman, Michael McMahon and Helen Panckhurst. The company is currently producing high-profile ABC series The Slap.
Chapman said NBCUniversal shares the same vision as Matchbox Pictures – to produce great stories with Australia’s best creative talent.
"Working with NBCUniversal will give us the resources to produce quality shows on a larger scale and provide opportunities for the creative people we team up with in Australia, to have their work seen on an international stage,” she said in a statement.
NBCUniversal's senior vice president of international business development, Alfonso Marone, said the injection of capital will enable Matchbox to recruit additional Australian creative talent and strengthen its general business infrastructure.
In September 2009, Matchbox received $750,000 through Screen Australia's enterprise program, which was aimed at creating sustainable Australian production companies.
While the scheme is only open to Australian producers of "Australian owned, controlled and registered companies", according to the program's terms, Screen Australia chief operating officer Fiona Cameron said companies could still be eligible despite majority foreign ownership. The test is centred on who has creative control, she said.
Matchbox is in its final year to receive its last payment through the enterprise program.