Almost a billion dollars, that’s a sum that attracts attention even in Hollywood, where one is used to high sums. For this amount, the actress and producer Reese Witherspoon sold her production company Hello Sunshine. The new owner is an as-yet-unnamed media company owned by private equity firm Blackstone.
Witherspoon does not want to get out of the film business with the sale, but on the contrary to expand her power in Hollywood. She needs a lot of money for that, and that’s why she had been looking for a buyer for a long time. Apple was also briefly discussed. After the takeover, which has now been decided, she will continue to be a member of the board and responsible for day-to-day business. Her goal: to empower women in the American entertainment industry.
Witherspoon, born in New Orleans in 1976, gained fame as an actress in such films as “Ice Cold Angels” and “Naturally Blonde”. She has also been working as a producer for almost twenty years. In 2016 she founded Hello Sunshine. Her company produced the movies “Wild” and “Gone Girl”, among others. The series “Big Little Lies” was created for HBO, the miniseries “Little Fires Everywhere” for Amazon, and “The Morning Show” for Apple TV +. Witherspoon also plays with most of the projects in order to use their star power for financing and marketing.
Witherspoon understood what other Hollywood companies missed
But that alone would not be unusual in Hollywood. Many stars have their own companies. What makes Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine so special and also explains the high purchase price are two things. First, the 45-year-old recognized years ago what many other Hollywood companies have ignored for too long: that cinema and television alone are no longer enough to survive in the shark tank of the modern entertainment industry. Which is why it offers a kind of all-round carefree entertainment package. Hello Sunshine also produces podcasts and operates “Reese’s Book Club”. In other words, a digital version of the classic reading group, in which you can not only discuss literature with your neighbor in the district library, but also with a Hollywood star.
This book club also leads to the second approach with which Witherspoon’s company differs from other production forges. She doesn’t just talk about empowering women, she does it too. Hello Sunshine prefers to use novels by women as a template for films and series. Witherspoon has an almost uncanny knack for materials that can be filmed well, like Gillian Flynn’s thriller “Gone Girl” or “Little Fires Everywhere” by Celeste Ng. She also likes to hire women for the implementation, for example she brought in the British auteur filmmaker Andrea Arnold to direct the entire second season of “Big Little Lies”.
And because there are still comparatively few women directors, screenwriters and camerawomen in the American film industry, Witherspoon also promotes training. Hello Sunshine initiated a film class for 13 to 18 year old girls. The fact that this commitment not only sounds pretty, but also has a promising future in an industry in which only hard dollars count at the end of the day, is now proven by her sales coup for one billion dollars.