SquareOne Acquires Telepool From Westbrook

German distributor-producer SquareOne Entertainment, part of rising European film studio Vuelta Group, has acquired German film and TV production, distribution and licensing company Telepool, which was owned by Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith’s Westbrook.

The news was announced Wednesday by Vuelta Group chairman Jerome Levy and CEO of SquareOne and Vuelta Group Germany Al Munteanu.

Munteanu will spearhead the newly combined entity under the SquareOne banner with Michael Heyd serving as CFO/COO.

The newly combined SquareOne entity will boast a library consisting of over 1,200 titles such as “Drive,” “Intouchables,” “The Olympus Has Fallen,” “The Hitman’s Bodyguard,” “Imitation Game,” “Lone Survivor,” “Book Club,” “Transporter 3,” “King Richard,” “Maurice the Tomcat” and the recently released “One Life” among others.

“For over 60 years, Telepool has been one of the leading global content houses and we are proud of the work we did with the company,” said Westbrook CEO Kosaku Yada. “We are grateful to [former Telepool CEO] Yoko Higuchi-Zitzmann for her leadership over the past two years. Her respect from the creative community has been instrumental in Telepool’s success.”

The new and expanded company will be active across distribution and production. Munteanu said, “The combined entity enables SquareOne to offer German-speaking audiences a strong and varied slate of theatrical releases going forward, across multiple genres – from ‘smarthouse,’ comedies, and actioners to high-end family entertainment: ‘The Last Breath,’ ‘Lords of War,’ ‘Hellboy,’ ‘Broker Homefront 2’ and ‘Bambi’ being the first out of the gate.”

Over the past year, SquareOne has focused its efforts on the expansion of its production’s activity under the SquareOne Productions banner with teams in Munich and London. The teams are active across local language as well as international television and theatrical films. The company boasts successes with the German, Italian, and French version of “Your Honor,” the Netflix and ORF co-production with Barry Films Totenfrau as well as SF Studios Coproduction for TV2/ZDF “Oxen,” now going into its second season.

Vuelta Group will collaborate further with Telepool’s international sales arm Global Screen, which distributes premium feature films and TV series to audiences around the world. Its credits include animation hits like “The Amazing Maurice” and “Luis and the Aliens,” dramas “The Collini Case,” “The Conference,” as well as “School of Magical Animals.” Current highlights include the WWII drama “Stella – A Life,” as well as the beloved canine adventure “Lassie – A New Adventure.”

As reported exclusively in Variety, Global Screen this week boarded horror-Western “The Trek.” This reflects a growing focus on genre content for Global Screen, best known for its expertise with animation, family entertainment and prestige drama.

Global Screen’s foray into elevated genre includes the Sandra Hüller led nightmare-thriller “Sleep,” a debut feature by Michael Venus in which the Oscar- and BAFTA-nominated Hüller plays a woman plagued by horrific dreams, which become a never-ending nightmare haunting an entire village community.

Recent genre titles handled also include “You’re Not Me” (Tú No Eres Yo) by Goya-nominated producers Marisa Crespo and Moisés Romera, a Spanish-language satirical thriller, which launched at Fantastic Fest in Austin, before having its international premiere at Imagine Film Festival Amsterdam.

Nicolas Brigaud Robert of Playtime said: “I am excited to see the unique positioning of Global Screen work hand in hand with the know-how of the Playtime sales group to cover a larger spectrum of projects in acquisitions and increase our collective impact on the market.”

Currently, Playtime and its subsidiaries have seven films premiering at the Cannes Film Festival with “The Seed of the Sacred Fig” by Mohammad Rasoulof (Films Boutique) in the Official Selection in Competition, both “The Marching Band” by Emmanuel Courcol and “Meeting with Pol Pot” by Rithy Panh in Cannes Premiere (Playtime), “Black Dog” by Guan Hu in Un Certain Regard (Playtime), “Apprendre” by Claire Simon in Special Screenings (Films Boutique), “Animale” by Emma Benestan in the Critics’ Week (Film Constellation) and “Eephus” by Carson Lund in the Directors’ Fortnight (Film Constellation).

Outside of Germany, the Vuelta Group is present in Scandinavia with Scanbox, with recent success such as “Past Lives,” “Civil War” and local romantic comedy “Rome”; in France with Playtime and Pan, which has just released “Un p’tit truc en plus,” the biggest opening in 2024 in France; in Italy with producer Indiana Productions with “Confidenza,” currently in theaters, and highly anticipated “Il Gatopardo” and Gianna Nannini biopic “Sei nell’Anima,” coming out on Netflix later this year.

Former Telepool CEO Yoko Higuchi-Zitzmann said, “I am proud of everything we achieved at Telepool. My sincere thanks go to my fantastic colleagues, our outstanding content partners and to Westbrook, with whom I have worked so productively. I wish the wonderful team of professionals and the new owners of the Vuelta Group Germany only the very best. I am convinced that Telepool will continue to be in the best hands.”

Westbrook’s EVP of corporate development, Ryan Ascencio, added: “We are happy to have found the right partner for Telepool with the Vuelta Group and wish them all the best as they continue their vision to expand their new and vibrant media powerhouse. We are eager to continue our collaboration on our projects going forward.”

Levy said: “This latest Vuelta Group acquisition is in line with our vision and strategy to create an integrated European studio, with the capacity to produce and distribute across multiple territories.”

Munteanu added: “The integration of Telepool will increase our presence in Germany as a major player across all aspects of distribution and production.”

Levy concluded: “Germany is an important territory where we will keep investing through co-productions and acquisitions.”

Lazard acted as exclusive financial advisor to Westbrook and Telepool.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.