eOne Closes U.K. Theatrical Distribution Business
Entertainment One (eOne) is shuttering its U.K. theatrical distribution business, as confirmed by its owner, Hasbro.
UK - The acquisition of eOne by Hasbro took place in 2019 for a hefty $3.8 billion, at a time when the theatrical business in the U.K. appeared strong, with successful titles like "The Aeronauts," "Sorry We Missed You," and "Official Secrets" performing well at the box office.
However, in early 2020, eOne's fortunes took a turn with the COVID-19 pandemic impacting the industry. Despite a notable box office triumph with Sam Mendes' acclaimed film "1917," which grossed over $57 million in the U.K., cost-cutting measures ensued, including laying off 10% of film and television staff. The company also sold its music division to The Blackstone Group for $385 million.
Amidst a challenging market and with Hasbro seeking to sell off its media assets, eOne found itself on the block in November 2022, attracting several potential suitors, with Lionsgate emerging as the latest contender. The uncertainty took a toll on eOne's business operations, and Hasbro further revealed layoffs affecting approximately 15% of its global workforce.
Even as the U.K. cinema industry struggled to recover from pandemic-related setbacks, eOne continued to operate its theatrical business. However, the box office numbers for June 2023 indicated a 28% decline compared to the same month in 2022, and year-to-date figures were down 7%.
In the midst of the challenging landscape, eOne managed only three film releases in 2023, including Steven Spielberg's "The Fabelmans," "Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves," and "The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry." While these films made some earnings, none of them managed to secure a spot in the U.K.'s box office top 10 for the year.
The decision to close the U.K. theatrical distribution business was a difficult choice but marks a significant change for eOne, which has since faced an uphill battle to sustain its operations amid industry turbulence.
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