Severance and Normal People producer Fifth Season has sold a 25% stake in the business to Toho Company, the Japanese studio that is behind the Godzilla franchise.
Toho International is investing $225m in Fifth Season, in a deal that values the company at around $900 and which comes two years after South Korea’s CJ ENM acquired an 80% stake in the company formerly known as Endeavor Content.
Toho, which recently launched Godzilla Minus One in US cinemas, will work with Fifth Season to both produce global content and participate in content produced in Japan.
The company’s development and production executives will also team with Fifth Season execs on shows, which will then be sold by the CJ ENM-owned company’s sales division.
The investment will maintain CJ ENM’s majority stake in Fifth Season, alongside Endeavor Group Holdings and now Toho.
Fifth Season’s shifting gears
The investment, which is believed to have diluted pre-existing shareholdings, follows a turbulent year for Fifth Season as it navigated tha US writers and actors strikes.
The Omnivore producer trimmed more than 10% of its workforce earlier this year as it dealt with the effects of the US strikes, with those cuts coming six months after eight staff were laid off, including Shelby White, director of TV creative, and Danielle Gerber, VP of physical production. The company’s SVP of documentaries Kevin Iwashina also stepped down in April.
Fifth Season’s shows range from aforementioned Apple TV+ duo Severance and Omnivore to upcoming Chief of War and The Savant, as well as movies including Eileen.
Ffith Season co-CEOs Graham Taylor and Chris Rice described the deal as “an excellent and unique opportunity to build on [our] momentum and solidify our leadership in the global independent film and television space.”
They added: “Strategic partnerships are a core piece of our DNA, and we were deliberate in moving forward with a company as successful, storied, and aligned with our goals and values as Toho.”
Hiro Matsuoka, Toho president, added that the investment would be “a significant step towards challenging the global market, not only in the field of animation where Toho has excelled, but also in the realm of live-action content.”
“Crossing the ‘bridge’ between Japan and the world that will be built through this collaboration, we hope to see Japanese projects, intellectual properties, and content expand further into the global market.”
Koo Chang-gun, CEO of CJ ENM, added: “We are thrilled to have Toho, the biggest entertainment company in Japan, as our partner at this time when Fifth Season is making significant strides as a global major studio. CJ ENM will continue to strengthen its competitive advantage as a content producer and bolster its status as a global IP powerhouse.”