Red Arrow Entertainment takes majority stake in 44 Blue

The Munich-based entertainment firm has acquired a 65% stake in the unscripted indie behind Wahlburgers and Lockup. (Pictured: 44 Blue co-founders Rasha Drachkovitch and Stephanie Noonan Drachkovitch)
July 20, 2016

Red Arrow Entertainment has acquired Los Angeles-based indie 44 Blue Productions.

The ProSiebenSat.1 Group-owned producer has taken a 65% stake in the Wahlburgers and Lockup shop, which was founded by Rasha Drachkovitch (pictured, left) and Stephanie Noonan Drachkovitch (right) in 1984.

The move brings the number of U.S. producers in the Munich-based company’s U.S. portfolio to nine.

Under the deal, Drachkovitch and Noonan Drachkovitch will continue to lead 44 Blue, while Red Arrow International will distribute its programs globally. Red Arrow will also have access to 44 Blue’s virtual reality studio Ovrture, which launched last year.

“We’re focused on the format space, but our desire to have a very good, broad slate of factual entertainment with both format value and tape value is a priority for us,” Red Arrow CEO Jan Frouman told realscreen. “That’s one of the things we saw as being a strength with 44 Blue.”

44 Blue has 10 series in production, including Wahlburgers and Nightwatch for A&E, Hollywood Medium with Tyler Henry for E!, Lockup for MSNBC, long-running Animal Planet series Pit Bulls & Parolees and the Whoopi Goldberg exec-produced Strut for Oxygen.

The company has a core staff of 35 that expands to between 200 and 300 depending on the production slate.

Frouman says he was drawn to the diversity in the company’s catalog, which ranges from celebreality, factual entertainment and docuseries to lifestyle, adventure and documentary. 44 Blue also has scripted and children’s animated projects in development.

“There’s an ability to broaden the creative focus,” he said. “It wouldn’t surprise me if we stay fluid and go into areas we’re not in today, but see an opportunity and have the right talent to put something together.”

Although Frouman did not disclose financial terms, he said the deal is in “a sweet spot” among the bolt-on acquisitions Red Arrow has done over the years with mid-size and boutique companies such as Half Yard Productions, Left/Right, Kinetic Content, Karga Seven Pictures and Dorsey Pictures (formerly Orion Entertainment).

The acquisition gives 44 Blue access to Red Arrow’s international network of format producers, as well as newly formed digital media producer Ripple Entertainment and multi-channel network Studio 71. Red Arrow’s recent format hits include the social experiment series Married at First Sight, which is about to enter season four on FYI in the U.S., as well as Undressed.

“What got us excited was the [chance] to create opportunities for formats that could launch overseas and come back to the U.S.,” explained Noonan Drachkovitch. “As well as access to Red Arrow’s incredible catalog in terms of titles they have that may not have yet been explored in the U.S.”

44 Blue is represented by William Morris Endeavor. Bryor Media Partners’ Ron Milkes and Bryan Bowles and Matt Thompson of Sidley Austin LLP advised 44 Blue on the transaction. Red Arrow was advised by Stella Capital Advisors and Milbank.

About The Author
Managing editor with realscreen publication, an international print and online magazine that covers the non-fiction film and television industries. Darah is an award-winning journalist who has spent over two decades covering a wide range of issues from real estate and urban development to immigration, politics and human rights, primarily with The Vancouver Sun. Prior to joining realscreen, she was editor of Stream Daily, realscreen's sister publication covering the dynamic global digital video industry. She also served a stint as a war reporter in Afghanistan for television and print, and was a national business blogger with Yahoo Canada.