M&A round-up: Candle acquires Exile; Hyperbole joins Leonine Studios

Candle Media, the recently formed media venture co-founded by entertainment execs Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs and backed by investment firm Blackstone, has added Spanish-language media company Exile Content Studio ...
May 25, 2022

Candle Media, the recently formed media venture co-founded by entertainment execs Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs and backed by investment firm Blackstone, has added Spanish-language media company Exile Content Studio to its growing portfolio, which already includes the social content firm ATTN: and a minority stake in Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith’s media company Westbrook Inc.

Based in L.A. and with offices in Mexico City, Madrid and Miami, Exile creates cross-genre content for a global audience of Spanish speakers across film, TV, audio and digital. Recent unscripted projects include the docuseries Un sueño Real for HBO, which chronicles how an independent regional football squad from a working-class neighborhood became the official Real Madrid women’s team; true-crime podcast Sacred Scandal, created in partnership with iHeartMedia; and the forthcoming Gente Sana, a six-part docuseries about mental health hosted by music superstar J Balvin, which will debut on Peacock this fall.

Under the terms of the Candle acquisition, Exile founder Isaac Lee — who formed the company in 2019 after serving as chief content officer for Univision and Televisa — will continue to oversee day-to-day operations, along with his pre-existing senior management team.

“Exile’s vision is to create content that not only resonates with Spanish speakers, but also with universal audiences,” said Lee in a statement. “We have spent the last three years building a network of creative talent and compelling IP, and partnering with Candle will allow us to accelerate our strategy.

“Kevin, Tom, and Blackstone have an inspiring vision for Candle, and their commitment to invest in properties that are highly dedicated to creator communities and audiences aligns perfectly with Exile’s mission,” Lee continued. “It is an honor to join the Candle family of storytellers who represent diverse cultures and communities.”

“Exile has established itself as an emerging leader in Spanish-language content, with deep relationships with exceptional artists and creators, broad cross-platform production, audience engagement and social commerce expertise,” added Candle co-founders Mayer and Staggs. “We’re excited to be a part of the tremendous growth they have ahead.”

In other M&A news, Munich’s Leonine Studios has announced that it is expanding its digital production portfolio with the acquisition of Berlin-based Hyperbole Medien GmbH, effective next Wednesday (June 1).

Known for its socially relevant content that targets Gen Y and Z audiences with a mix of politics and pop culture, Hyperbole is behind such productions as Germania, a cultural series that investigates what it means to be German, and the political entertainment format 13 Fragen (13 Questions), both for broadcaster ZDF; and the political YouTube channel Die da oben! for VOD service Funk, which offers breakdowns of current debates going on in the German Bundestag (Parliament).

Hyperbole joins the many other brands under the Leonine umbrella, which include i&u TV, SEO Entertainment, Odeon Fiction, W&B Television, Wiedemann & Berg Film, and the recently rebranded Madame Zheng Production. It will continue to operate as an independent company under the leadership of managing director Bastian Asdonk, with the addition of Leonine’s chief digital officer Christian Meinberger — who oversees digital format development for all Leonine brands — to its senior management team.

“Hyperbole’s development and formats have impressed us for some time now. The company is characterized by a clear profile, a feel for the zeitgeist, and a successful mix of innovative and journalistically high-quality formats,” said Leonine CEO Fred Kogel. “Together, we will complement our existing IPs with new formats and expand the cross-media reach of our content. In this way, we’re broadening the growth potential for our digital production area for the long term.”

Added Hyperbole MD Asdonk (pictured): “We could not have wished for a better partner for further development than Leonine Studios. Their excellent productions stand for quality on all platforms, and the overall set-up of the group is an innovative and far-sighted model. We are very much looking forward to working with outstanding creatives and a bold management.”

Photo © Hyperbole Medien / Leonine Studios

About The Author
Andrew Tracy joined Realscreen as associate editor in 2021, following 17 years as managing editor of the award-winning international film magazine Cinema Scope. From 2010 to 2020 he also held the position of senior editor at the Toronto International Film Festival, where he oversaw the flagship publication for the organization’s year-round Cinematheque programming and edited its first original monograph in a decade, Steve Gravestock’s A History of Icelandic Film. He was a scriptwriter and consultant on the first season of the Vice TV series The Vice Guide to Film, and his writing and reporting have been featured in such outlets as Cinema Scope, Reverse Shot, Sight & Sound, Cineaste, Film Comment, MUBI Notebook, POV, and Montage.