STX Financing, LLC, doing business as STX Entertainment, is a mini-major American entertainment and media company that creates, produces, distributes, finances and markets film, television and digital media, which includes live events and virtual reality.
The company was founded in 2014 by film producer Robert Simonds and Bill McGlashan. Investors in the company include Hony Capital, Tencent, PCCW, TPG Growth, Liberty Global and individual investors including Gigi Pritzker, Beau Wrigley, and Dominic Ng.
In April 2020, STX announced that it would merge with the Indian studio Eros International plc. The merger was completed in July 2020.
HistoryIn 2012, Simonds and McGlashan began conceptualizing a media company based on the idea of producing medium-budget projects with a star attached, a method that had gone out of style with Hollywood studios. The conversation led to the launch of STX Entertainment in 2014 with the mission to finance, develop, produce, market, and self-distribute star-driven content around the world.
STX's Board of Directors is composed of investors and industry veterans including Simonds, McGlashan, David Bonderman, John Zhao, Gigi Pritzker, Janice Lee, Tracy Cui, Frank Biondi, Dominic Ng, Carmen Chang.
In September 2017, it was reported that STX was close to an initial public offering on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. While based in the US, the company has numerous corporate and business relationships with China, and it has been reported that a listing on the SEHK could make it easier for Chinese companies to invest in Hollywood films. STX was valued at $1.5 billion in 2016. In September 2017, the Wall Street Journal stated that the company could be valued at $3.5 billion, after raising an additional $500 million following the IPO. In April 2018, the company announced it had filed for an IPO on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
STX called off its IPO in September 2018, citing the China–U.S. trade war, and conditions having deteriorated in Hong Kong due to turbulence in the mainland Chinese equity market. An overall co-funding agreement with Chinese company Huayi Brothers Media lapsed at the end of 2018, and in April 2019, co-founder Bill McGlashan was fired due to his indictment in the college admissions bribery scandal after The Best of Enemies flopped at the box office. In May 2019, STX's chief operating officer Tom McGrath stepped down after UglyDolls was released in theaters and before Poms debuted in theaters. The company also faced several box office bombs in 2019, including Poms, its first animated feature, UglyDolls and the puppet comedy film The Happytime Murders, These events were cited as signs of financial instability at the studio. In July, the studio also lost Marry Me, an upcoming romantic comedy starring Jennifer Lopez, to Universal Pictures. In September 2019, another STX-distributed film starring Lopez, Hustlers, would achieve the company's largest opening weekend gross to date.
On April 16, 2020, STX announced that it would merge with the Indian film and television studio Eros International plc as Eros STX, in a transaction scheduled to be completed by June. Simonds stated that the merger would create "the first independent media company with the expertise and creative cultures of Hollywood and Bollywood, while also leveraging the important inroads both companies have made into the Chinese market." The combined company will be publicly-traded, inheriting Eros' listing on the New York Stock Exchange. The merger was closed on July 30, 2020, with plans to officially launch the Eros STX branding and listing in September.
Managementserves as chairman and CEO; former Viacom Entertainment Group chief operating officer Tom McGrath serves as COO; former chief executive officer of Crest Animation Noah Fogelson is general counsel and executive vice president of corporate strategy; former Discovery Communications chief financial officer Andrew Warren serves as CFO; and former brand communications head for Condé Nast and Paramount Pictures Patricia Röckenwagner serves as chief brand officer. In September 2014, former Universal Pictures chairman Adam Fogelson was hired as chairman of the Motion Picture division, STX Films. In April 2016, David Kosse announced he would be leaving as CEO of British production company Film4 to join STX as president of STX International. Also that month, Punk'd the creator Jason Goldberg signed on to run unscripted programming for STX Television.
DivisionsSTX Entertainment has multiple divisions: film, which includes animation and family content; television, which includes scripted and unscripted content; and digital media, along with an international partnership and distribution arm headquartered in London.
DistributionAt launch, the film division of STX focused its efforts on creating a new model. Rather than pursuing the traditional distribution process, the company secured direct distribution agreements with North American theater chains AMC, Regal, Cinemark, Goodrich, Marcus Theatres and Carmike Cinemas. In early 2015, the company signed a multiyear television output agreement to release films exclusively to Showtime Networks and its channels Showtime, The Movie Channel and Flix, during the premium television window. The deal covers STX Films theatrical releases through 2019. In April 2015, the company entered into a multiyear partnership with Universal Studios Home Entertainment for Universal to handle marketing, sales and distribution services for Blu-ray, DVD and VOD platforms for STX Films theatrical titles in North America. That same month, STX Films closed a three-year slate deal with Huayi Brothers, one of China's largest film studios, enabling the companies to co-produce and co-distribute 12 to 15 films annually. In January 2017, STX Films signed a three-year marketing and distribution agreement with Luc Besson's EuropaCorp Films USA to release their upcoming slate of films in the US. In February 2018, STX Films announced it will distribute Netflix and Martin Scorsese's mob drama The Irishman in China along with Media Asia Entertainment Group.
Film projectsIn line with its mission to make medium-budget, star-driven content, STX Films projects have included Bad Moms starring Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell and Christina Applegate; Molly's Game, written and directed by Aaron Sorkin and starring Jessica Chastain; The Gift, written, co-produced and directed by Joel Edgerton and starring Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall; The Edge of Seventeen starring Hailee Steinfeld; The Foreigner starring Jackie Chan and Pierce Brosnan; Secret in Their Eyes starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Nicole Kidman and Julia Roberts; The Boy starring Lauren Cohan; and Free State of Jones starring Matthew McConaughey. In 2015, STX Films acquired its first feature at the Toronto International Film Festival, purchasing the worldwide rights to the sci-fi, action adventure Hardcore Henry for US$10 million. In 2017, STX Films announced the following projects: I Feel Pretty with Amy Schumer; Gringo with Amazon Studios, starring Charlize Theron; The Happytime Murders with Melissa McCarthy; an untitled romantic comedy developed by and starring Anne Hathaway; and Second Act, a romantic comedy starring Jennifer Lopez and directed by Peter Segal.
In 2017, STX Films announced its expansion into animation and family content with a partnership with the Uglydoll brand, a line of plush characters created by David Horvath. The UglyDolls film is produced by Robert Rodriguez, director of the Spy Kids film franchise, and it features the voices of Pitbull, Kelly Clarkson, Nick Jonas, Blake Shelton, and Janelle Monáe. In 2018, Hasbro was named as the master toy licensee for the franchise. In January 2019, it was reported that STX would partner with Alibaba Pictures to expand the UglyDolls franchise globally, and that STX is planning an animated UglyDolls television series with Hulu, as well as digital and print publishing, mobile games, music and merchandise related to the franchise.
In January 2018, STX Films and Tencent Pictures announced a co-development deal with Jason Statham targeting the Chinese film market. Statham starred in Furious 7 and The Fate of the Furious, China's two highest-grossing imported films ever. In February 2018, STX Films signed a deal with Alibaba Pictures to co-develop and co-produce the action-sci-fi film Steel Soldiers, produced by Robert Zemeckis. Under the deal, STX Films will handle US and international distribution with Alibaba Pictures retaining rights in Greater China.
In 2018, the following STX Films projects were announced: Muscle, an action comedy starring Vin Diesel; 21 Bridges, an action thriller produced by the Russo Brothers and starring Chadwick Boseman; the action-comedy My Spy, directed by Peter Segal and starring Dave Bautista; an untitled biopic based on the life of Sheikh Zayed, founder and former president of the United Arab Emirates, to be directed by Shekhar Kapur; the live action-CGI hybrid Warriors, a co-production with Alibaba Pictures based on the young-adult book series by Erin Hunter; Den of Thieves 2, a sequel to STX's 2018 heist thriller, directed by Christian Gudegast and starring Gerard Butler; and , a sequel to STX's 2016 horror thriller, The Boy, directed by William Brent Bell and starring Katie Holmes.
In May 2018, it was reported that STX would distribute and oversee production on Tencent Pictures and Free Association's film adaptation of the digital comic book Zombie Brother, to be directed by David Sandberg. In July 2018, STX Films acquired domestic distribution rights to the civil rights drama The Best of Enemies, starring Taraji P. Henson and Sam Rockwell, directed by Robin Bissell, and scheduled to be released on April 5, 2019. In November 2018, the company acquired US distribution rights to Poms, a comedy starring Diane Keaton.
In January 2019, STX Films had their first number one box office opening with The Upside, which stars Kevin Hart and Bryan Cranston and earned $19.59 million in its opening weekend. STX earned praise for its efficient marketing of the film, and for trimming The Upside from an R to PG-13 rating to widen its audience. That month, it was reported that Hart is partnering with STX Films to produce and star in two comedies: a body switch comedy called Black Friday, and an untitled international romantic comedy.
Awards and recognitionIn 2016, STX Films became the fastest studio ever to hit $100 million at the domestic box office with the R-rated comedy Bad Moms. The film has earned more than US$180 million worldwide, was the first R-rated comedy since The Hangover to get an A on CinemaScore and was the most profitable film of the year. The film also earned a People's Choice Award for Best Comedy. The 2017 American crime drama Molly's Game was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay along with BAFTA, WGA, and Golden Globe nominations. The Edge of Seventeen was nominated for an MTV Movie Award for Movie of the Year, a Directors Guild Award for Outstanding Achievement in a First-Time Feature and a Golden Globe Award for Hailee Steinfeld. On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 95%.
Genre films have also received recognition. The psychological horror-thriller The Gift was nominated for a Directors Guild Award for Outstanding Achievement in a First-Time Feature and won a Sitges Film Festival and Fangoria Chainsaw Award. The Space Between Us starring Gary Oldman was nominated for Choice Sci-Fi Movie and Choice Sci-Fi Movie Actor at the 2017 Teen Choice Awards. The horror thriller The Bye Bye Man overperformed industry expectations with a US$13.5 million domestic opening weekend. The Foreigner, a co-production with Jackie Chan's Sparkle Roll Media, crossed $100 million in global box office revenue in October 2017. The film is one of the most successful U.S. and China co-productions, being classified as "a clear winner given that it cost just $35 million" and "a fine example of how a Chinese co-production can work."
STX Films strives for female diversity in front of and behind the camera. More than 20 films have starred or were directed by women.
STX TVThe television division's first project was the 2014 drama-thriller State of Affairs, starring Katherine Heigl and Alfre Woodard. The 13-episode series was developed by STX TV and sold to NBC. In 2015, STX TV produced the NBC pilot Problem Child, based on the 1990 film of the same name.
In April 2016, STX TV expanded into unscripted and reality content, hiring veteran TV producer Jason Goldberg. A few months later, the variety show Number One Surprise launched, which was the first TV series created by a US-based company specifically for broadcast in China. The series premiere in November 2016 on Hunan TV, a Chinese TV station, along with digital platforms Mango TV and PPTV, was viewed nearly 300 million times, and by January 2017 it was the #1 show in China with over 1 billion views.
In May 2017, STX TV announced it had acquired the first TV project from Kevin Kwan, author of Crazy Rich Asians. In August 2018, Amazon Studios gave a script-to-series order for the untitled project, a globe-hopping drama set in Hong Kong, about a powerful family and their business empire. In July 2017, E! greenlit the reality series The Platinum Life, to be produced by STX TV and Tower 2 Productions. In November 2017, STX TV announced its first scripted show Valley of the Boom, a six-part docudrama series about the 1990s tech boom from showrunner and director Matthew Carnahan and executive producer Arianna Huffington. The show airs on NatGeo, with STX distributing in China. It premiered on January 13, 2019, and The Hollywood Reporter called it "entertaining" and "informative." STX Television produced season 23 of True Life, which aired on MTV in 2017. The company also produced the docuseries A Little Too Farr, following American country singer-songwriter Tyler Farr, which premiered on Verizon's go90 streaming service. In February 2018, Fox and STX TV announced that it is developing an unscripted series based on its film Bad Moms. In April 2018, Mother Media Group, founded by former Endemol Shine and 20th Century Fox executives, signed a first-look deal with STX TV. Under the pact, the companies will collaborate to create, produce and distribute unscripted and hybrid series.
In 2018, it was reported that Netflix gave a six-episode series order to STX TV's hybrid docudrama miniseries Ottoman Rising, which tells the story of Mehmed the Conqueror; and that YouTube Red will produce a TV spinoff based on STX's 2016 film The Edge of Seventeen, with an entirely new cast.
In December 2018, it was reported that STX Alternative signed a first-look development and production deal with Tracey Edmonds, to co-produce and co-develop scripted and unscripted content for traditional and alternative platforms. The first project is Games Divas Play, based on the book by Angela Burt-Murray to air on BET in 2019.
STX DigitalThe digital division of STX Entertainment focuses on digital programming, partnerships and distribution, which includes live events and virtual reality. In August 2016, STX acquired the VR creator and distributor Surreal, renaming it STX Surreal. Founded in 2015, in its first year, Surreal produced over 70 immersive VR experiences featuring Gordon Ramsay, Snoop Dogg, Jon Hamm, Jimmy Kimmel, Wolfgang Puck and Wiz Khalifa, among others.
In 2017, STX Surreal was nominated for an interactive Daytime Emmy Award for the Nickelodeon short Nickelodeon's Ultimate Halloween Haunted House 360 Challenge and won a Shorty Award for Best Use of 360 Video for their 360° production of the 68th Emmy Awards, in collaboration with the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and Facebook. In June 2017, STX Surreal announced a partnership with media services agency Horizon Media to develop and produce VR and immersive content for the brand's new UNCVR unit. In 2018, STX Surreal announced a slate of original projects including New Tricks, directed and produced by Ed Helms; The Kiev Exchange, a spin-off of STX Films' Mile 22; Jay and Silent Bob VR, written, produced, and directed by Kevin Smith; and untitled projects from Dave Bautista and Derek Kolstad.
Robert Rodriguez's live-action short-form VR film The Limit, starring Michelle Rodriguez, was released by STX Surreal on major mobile headsets and on Android phones with cardboard viewers in November 2018. It is also going to be released on iOS, PlayStation VR, and Windows Mixed Reality. The Academy Award-winning visual effects studio DNEG worked on the film in post-production.
In December 2017, Dick Clark Productions sold Chinese distribution rights to the Golden Globe Awards and Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve to STX Digital. STX partnered with Tencent Video to be its distribution partner for both programs, including the production of a Chinese-language red carpet program for the Chinese feed of the Golden Globes.