Popular culture—and the way it is produced, distributed and consumed worldwide—is undergoing vast and rapid change. In a new age of entertainment deals, players and platforms, Manatt uses commercial savvy and legal experience to advance and protect our clients’ interests.
A new entertainment landscape
There’s no business like show business. The interplay between technology and consumer demand is transforming the marketplace. Content is king, and the challenge is finding the right platforms to deliver and monetize your film, TV, music or digital properties. With the globalization of financing, production, distribution and licensing, you need the right mix of business savvy and legal experience. That’s the value Manatt provides—to help you stay ahead in the rapidly changing market for entertainment.
Entertainment is in our bones. Manatt is recognized as a pioneer and leader in the industry, with our team receiving regular accolades in national and international trade and entertainment publications. Our practice covers music, film and TV, as well as digital media, sports, gaming, live events, fashion and branding, and other ventures.
Film and TV
Our film, TV and digital media practice provides both transactional and litigation services to studios, networks, telecommunications companies, production and distribution companies, banks, funds and other investors, actors, writers, directors, producers, and book authors.
From our Los Angeles and New York offices, our lawyers broker deals across America and in Asia, Europe and Latin America. And we’re shaping the future of digital media, providing crucial strategic support to major players in this space.
The team is practiced and pragmatic, excelling in financing, production, distribution, licensing, and mergers and acquisitions in all aspects of the entertainment industry.
Our music lawyers represent some of the world’s biggest artists as well as record companies, producers, concert promoters, publishers and distributors. We handle licensing and merchandising, corporate sponsorship, financing, copyright litigation, mergers and acquisitions, catalog sales, tax, real estate, privacy, Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issues, labor matters and more.
With decades of experience and long-lasting relationships, we understand how things work and know whom to talk to. We see things from both legal and commercial standpoints, advising clients on business decisions that create successful deals. We also have a sterling record in entertainment litigation.
More and more, traditional media players are realizing a strong digital media strategy is essential to surviving in the new industry landscape. Our transactional and litigation clients in the digital media and multimedia spaces include a mix of high-profile players seeking to finance, produce and distribute content in new formats, and emerging companies and platforms across film, television, music, podcasting, games/esports, XR and other emerging digital media. We leverage decades of institutional knowledge and a complex understanding of the industry to adapt and re-envision deal structures to meet evolving market opportunities, and with the added capabilities of our digital and technology consulting team, we can assist clients in scoping the market viability of new ventures.
Who we work with
Because we are the go-to firm for some of the biggest global players in entertainment, our clients know they can rely on us to deliver value and advance their business objectives. We work with:
- Film and television companies
- Record labels and music publishers
- Digital content producers and distributors in music, video, gaming, podcasting and other digital media ventures
- Telecommunications companies
- Financial institutions, funds and investors
- Book publishers
- Podcasting companies, including podcast networks
- International media companies entering the U.S. market
- Independent producers and distributors
- A broad spectrum of content creators—actors, writers, directors, producers, book authors, managers, musicians, promoters, influencers, and hosts of podcasts and other digital content productions
- Music artists, songwriters and composers
- Athletes (including esports athletes), professional sports and esports teams, sports and esports league associations and sports media companies
What we do
We cover the entire spectrum of entertainment and media law and consultancy. Our wide-ranging work includes:
- Entertainment financing, production, development and distribution
- Endorsement, licensing and sponsorship opportunities
- Employment and talent agreements
- Contractual aspects of worldwide tours
- Mergers and acquisitions
- Intellectual property protection
- Influencer and brand agreements
- Book publishing
- Privacy and data security
- Real estate
- Litigation and FTC defense
Recent experience include the firm's representation of:
- Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) in multiple film slate financings, including:
- A $200 million film slate co-finance agreement (Lone Star) with LSC Film Corporation. This deal has provided financing for SPE’s film slate since 2014.
- A $200 million film slate co-finance agreement with Hemisphere Capital Management to provide financing for four Sony tentpole films.
- An inter-party agreement among SPE, Jeff Robinov’s Studio 8, Fosun Capital of China and JP Morgan Chase, and a distribution agreement between SPE and Studio 8.
- First-ever co-finance agreement for virtual reality. This deal, with Gigi Pritzkers’ Reality One, will provide financing for 10 virtual reality experiences.
- Beijing-based Perfect World Pictures in a $500 million, five-year, 50-film slate co-finance agreement with Universal Pictures. The deal is the first-ever direct investment by a Chinese company in the film slate of one of the six “major” Hollywood studios.
- Huayi Brothers Media Corp., China’s largest privately-held film company, in an 18-film, three year co-finance and distribution agreement with STX, the new Hollywood studio formed by Bob Simonds. The deal was one of the first major Chinese investments in Hollywood films to be successfully closed.
- Tang Media Partners (TMP) in the creation of TV production entity IM Global Television, a TMP joint venture with China’s powerhouse media company Tencent and international media sales company IM Global. We also established the first-ever slate co-finance agreement in television, a China-sourced TV co-finance fund that will provide funding for a majority of the joint venture’s TV production costs.
- AT&T in the negotiation and documentation of affiliation agreements between AT&T/DIRECTV with NBCUniversal/Comcast, AMC Networks and Discovery Networks.
- IMAX Corporation in connection with a $50 million co-finance agreement for the production and distribution of 10 large-screen IMAX documentary films for exhibition in institutional theatres.
- Goldman Sachs in multiple deals, including:
- Its private equity division's sale of the entity owning international distribution rights to a 7,500-title film and television library.
- The structuring of its private equity division’s joint ownership with CBS of the CSI television franchise, and the transfer of international distribution rights and operations for this industry-leading TV franchise.
- Eton Park Capital Management, L.P., a $10 billion hedge fund, in the restructuring of its mezzanine debt position in The Film Department, a film production company. The restructuring included assessment of several private equity transactions, as well as the completion of a forbearance agreement and a buyout agreement.
- CBS Broadcasting, Inc., in a multiyear finance/production/distribution agreement for its late-night programming slate.
- Grosvenor Park Media in connection with agreements with Submarine Entertainment, the leading distributor of documentary feature films, to create a joint venture between the two entities.
- BMG Rights Management (BMG), the global music rights management company of German-based Bertelsmann AG, in transactions that have aggregated more than one million copyrights, including the music publishing assets of Primary Wave Music, the Famous Music and Virgin UK catalogs, R2M Music, Bug Music, Chrysalis, Evergreen, Stage Three Music and Cherry Lane Music Publishing.
- New Form Digital Studios in guild and union matters. New Form Digital develops, produces and distributes original scripted series content for created for an online audience.
- INgrooves, a global provider of digital distribution, marketing and promotion services to the audio, video and publishing communities via its ONE Digital platform, in the following:
- A Series B Preferred Stock financing by Shamrock Capital.
- INgrooves’ acquisition of Fontana Distribution from Universal Music Group. The new company, INgrooves Fontana, will combine INgrooves’ asset management, distribution platform and a decade of experience in the digital world with Fontana’s physical distribution and marketing capabilities.
- Isolation, the parent company of INgrooves, in the sale of 50.1% of the stock of INgrooves to Universal Music Group.
- THiS Music, the Nashville-based publishers of writers such as Ben Hayslip, Tim Nichols, Connie Harrington and others, in connection with the extension of its joint venture with Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.
- Concord Music Group, Inc., in numerous acquisitions that have contributed to its rich catalog of more than 10,000 master recordings and strengthened Concord’s status as one of the world’s most significant independent record companies, with a leadership position in multiple genres, including:
- Concord’s acquisition of certain assets and music rights from Rounder Records Corp. and affiliates.
- Concord’s acquisition of Telarc International.
- Concord’s acquisition of Fantasy, Inc.