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Imagine Entertainment (formerly Imagine Films Entertainment and also known simply as Imagine) is an American film and television production company founded in November 1985 by director Ron Howard and producer Brian Grazer.

Background[]

Brian Grazer and Ron Howard met in 1982 on Night Shift, with Howard directing and Grazer co-producing. They followed it up by working on 1984's Splash.

History[]

Imagine Films Entertainment[]

The company was originally founded in November 1985, following the success of the motion picture Splash. The company went public the following year. At first, the company set a deal with Tri-Star Pictures to produce feature films and television shows. Imagine granted Tri-Star the right of first refusal to syndicate their off-network shows produced by Imagine. Its offering was sold to Allen & Co. for 1,667,000 units for common stock and warrant it to purchase additional one-third of its stock. The net proceeds were used for development and production of theatrical films, television series, mini-series and made for television movies, although "the company does not presently intend to develop game shows or daytime soap operas." Imagine however has its prospectus having negotiations with Paramount Television for a commitment with ABC for a half-hour pilot and five episodes based on the comedy film Gung Ho.

Later the same year, Imagine had a five-year deal with Showtime/The Movie Channel, Inc. and it was able to develop projects for the channels Showtime and The Movie Channel. The agreement will kick-off with 1989 pay television availabilities and include pay-per view exhibition rights to all Imagine-produced films and about 30 motion pictures and "an unspecified number of original products" are also covered by the agreement. "Long-form dramas" or series may be developed as part of the original material to be developed and aired exclusively on Showtime, adding that it may also acquire the syndication rights to these films and original products.

On July 29, 1987, Tri-Star Pictures and Imagine Films Entertainment announced the termination of obligations by Imagine to offer Tri-Star distribution rights for all of its television programming and feature films. Imagine, which has received more than $1.7 million from Tri-Star, will make a $1.3 million payment to Tri-Star, the companies said and advances from Tri-Star will be eliminated. The companies said they "intend to work together on a project-by-project basis" and that projects already in development won't be affected. Imagine said the modified agreement "provides it with the flexibility to pursue certain financing and distribution opportunities which were not anticipated when the companies entered the original agreement."

On December 1, 1987, the company sealed a production and distribution deal with Universal Pictures via a "long-term multiple picture agreement" that they distributed Imagine's films for three to five films a year and the agreement "contemplates the possibility" that Universal acquired a 20% share in Imagine and it will conclude through November 1992 for financing 50% of 30 films. Imagine had an IPO in 1986 at $8 for a package of one share and one warrant. Shares rose to $19.25 before falling in the stock market crash in 1987 to $2.25. In the summer of next year, Imagine struck a deal with MCA TV to handle distribution of its television material. MCA and Imagine will have a joint television venture which MCA has the exclusive network and home video distribution rights. Imagine retains domestic distribution rights for now and is banking on those rights becoming more valuable in the future as its theatrical and television programs gain exposure. Imagine's television division will focus on half-hour comedies, whereas MCA will focus one-hour programs for the networks.

In the September of 1988, Robert Harris who was employee of MCA, and president of Universal Television Group joined the company as president of motion pictures and television. Harris said the studio is also taking original feature cable projects with Showtime, HBO, TNT, USA and MTV Network (which includes Nickelodeon and VH-1, in addition to projects with on-air networks)

On May 29, 1989, Imagine and Central Independent Television signed a deal to make TV movies for the worldwide business. The new joint venture will produce between four to six TV movies and mini-series a year. MCA who owns about 20% of Imagine and has worldwide distribution rights to its TV series as well as to its long-form programs on a project-by-project basis will also have first consideration on international distribution rights to the joint venture's programs. Imagine and Central retain rights in the U.S. and UK, respectively. [The Imagine-Central joint venture is separate from MCA's own ongoing exploration of a joint venture with a European company for Europe-based long-form co-production. The company is in discussions with two or three potential partners, but a deal is not expected soon.] Its projects must have U.S. and UK presales to go forward, although the venture will seek U.S. buyers going beyond the three big commercial networks to include Fox, as well as cable networks TNT, USA Network, Showtime and HBO. The deal also allows for theatrical distribution, although such co-productions are not in the planning now.

Imagine and Second City signed a joint venture deal in May 1989. In the September of 1989, Imagine is entering syndication production business and signed a long-term co-production deal with Second City Entertainment, for a late night talk/comedy strip that was distributed by MCA TV. It will use the ready talent pool of Second City comedians. The result is My Talk Show, which aired in the 1990-91 season. As HA!: The Comedy Network is ready to air in 1990, they stuck deals with Imagine Films Entertainment, for series featuring the Second City Repertory Company, as well as MTM Enterprises.

In 1991, Imagine Films Entertainment shut down its original Imagine Television division, and terminating its exclusive production partnership with MCA, Inc., and it will lay off 30 of its 80 employees of its company. It came when the series My Talk Show, and Paernthood flopped. Andrew Suskind, Joyce Brotman, Todd Bergesen, Richard Pierson, Judy Ranam and Lisa Bloom left the company.

By May 1992, 48% of the stock was public traded and worth $9.375. The duo agreed to a new six picture deal with Universal while concurrently offering $9 a share to buy the company's public outstanding share to start a new company with its assets. If not, they planned to leave the company at their contract expiration in November to start the new company anyway. Universal was providing the cash for a buyout of an equity stake in the new company.

Imagine Entertainment[]

In early 1997, Imagine Entertainment reopened its television division, signed a deal with Walt Disney Television for the development of TV series, which would expire at the end of 2000. It's movie contract remained with Universal. It boosted up their access to Disney's TV production slate. Imagine was exclusive for development and production of TV projects, including half-hour comedy series, one-hour dramas, motion pictures for TV and miniseries. They hired Tony Krantz to be co-chairman of its television division, and it will share a stake in the television division with its founders Brian Grazer and Ron Howard, while overseeing the TV division's day-to-day operations.

In 2000, the partnership teamed up with 20th Century Fox for development of TV series, an agreement set to expire at the end of 2016. In 2011, the company had three weak box office performers with The Dilemma, Cowboys & Aliens and Tower Heist. Because of their weak financial pact renewal with Universal in January 2012, Imagine laid off 5 employees, including production executive Jeremy Steckler. This also moves Imagine from exclusive to a first-look deal. By 2013, Imagine was considering other funding methods for the company's films including crowdfunding for a Friday Night Lights movie.

In November 2013, Michael Rosenberg was promoted to co-chairman followed in December 2013, with Erica Huggins being promoted to his previous position as president. Industry insiders indicated in late January 2016 that a deal with Raine Group was in the works that would have Raine become a partner of the production company while contributing $100 million.

In 2017, Imagine had made a six-picture deal with Warner Bros. and Australian visual effects/animation studio Animal Logic to develop, finance, and produce six animated/live-action films.

In 2018, Imagine acquired a controlling stake in Jax Media.

In December 2019, Imagine Entertainment CEO Rich Battista left the company after only less than 4 months since being appointed in late August.

In June 2020, Imagine Entertainment made a substantial investment in Academy Award-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney's Jigsaw Productions. Gibney formed the New York-based Jigsaw in 2012, and directed and produced Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, Taxi to the Dark Side, Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley, We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks, and Citizen K.

Filmography[]

  • A Beautiful Mind
  • The Cat in the Hat
  • Cowboys and Aliens
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