Penguin Random House's former in-house television and film development and production group, Random House Studio, has been bought by FremantleMedia North America (FMNA), a worldwide production and distribution company also owned by Bertelsmann.
As part of the new alignment, FMNA has entered into a partnership with China-based Meridian Entertainment to finance, produce and grow the studio's theatrical film projects, while FMNA will oversee all television adaptations.
Random House Studio was set up 11 years ago to produce film and TV based on works by PRH's authors to create larger potential audiences for their work. This original mission "remains unchanged", according to PRH.
Peter Gethers, executive vice president and general manager of Random House Studio, and his team, will retain their current offices in New York and Los Angeles.
Gethers will now report to FMNA co-c.e.o Craig Cegielski and work with Meridian’s founder and chairman Jennifer Dong on theatrical projects, and continues in his separate role as editor at large for Knopf Doubleday.
In a memo to staff, Nina von Moltke, e.v.p., director, publishing development and author platforms for PRH, called the move "a terrific opportunity for our former Random House Studio colleagues to get even closer to the production side of their business, and to broaden their longstanding relationship with Fremantle, with whom they already have an ongoing partnership agreement for television productions".
She added: "The original mission of Random House Studio, which began as Random House Films in 2005, remains unchanged: to create larger potential audiences for our authors’ works, and to involve them directly in the creative process of adapting their writing to the screen. The team will continue to identify appropriate content from across our publishing divisions, for which performance rights are available, with the goal to develop and produce adaptations of our titles for film, television, and online screens."
The already-established collaborative processes with publishers and editors will remain "business as usual", she said.
Gethers commented: “The Random House Studio team has been working with the current team at FMNA for two years now. Thanks to their creativity and support, it has been a perfect partnership. I am thrilled that we will now be a part of that team, allowing us to work even closer together and helping us grow."
Cegielski, co-c.e.o for FMNA, added: “Peter Gethers and the entire team at Random House Studio are literary visionaries, and the adroit Jennifer Dong and her team at Meridian have built a vibrant company that is well-positioned globally. Our collective ambitions enable us to further harness the voice of the authors, engaging them in all stages of their adaptation and bringing their vision to every media platform worldwide.”
Dong, Meridian’s founder and chairman, said its partnership with FremantleMedia and its Random House Studio marked "a breakthrough for Meridian’s global strategy" as "a milestone in our international expansion".
"Meridian has the determination, strength and ability to make full use of the rich and varied content that FremantleMedia and Random House Studio can provide and we will also explore the great potential of the vast Chinese market for our new partners," she said.
The studio has produced films including "One Day", based on the bestseller of the same name by David Nichols, directed by Lone Scherfig and starring Anne Hathaway, and "Lay the Favorite", based on the memoir of Beth Raymer, directed by Stephen Frears and starring Bruce Willis.
Ongoing projects in development and production at Random House Studio include "Loving Day", based on the book by Mat Johnson, sold as a half-hour series to Showtime, and feature film projects as "The Silent Land" with Focus Features based on the novel by Graham Joyce, and "Longbourn" with Studio Canal, based on the novel by Jo Baker.
The Random House Studio acquisition follows the recent expansion of FMNA’s scripted business with the upcoming release of "American Gods", an adaptation of the best-selling novel by Neil Gaiman.