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Ron Howard’s Imagine receives investment

Scripted-logo-460_2Empire-R9-01_kva1Empire coproducer Imagine Entertainment has received “a significant investment” from global merchant bank The Raine Group.

This will allow LA-based producer Imagine, which Ron Howard and Brain Grazer lead, to move into branded content and digital formats. The money may also be used to finance “organic growth opportunities” and “potential acquisitions”.

“With Raine’s investment, Imagine will further expand its creative footprint, working with content creators across the entertainment spectrum and exploring new ways to integrate storytelling and technology,” the company said in a statement.

Imagine is best known as a producer on network shows such as 24, 24: Live Another Day, Parenthood, Friday Night Lights and Shots Fired, Netflix’s Arrested Development, and HBO’s 1998 effort From Earth to the Moon; and for feature films such as A Beautiful Mind, Apollo 13, American Gangster, The Da Vinci Code and 8 Mile.

Raine Group, meanwhile, has established itself as a major investor in broadcast and film businesses after hiring former Viacom CEO Tom Freston as a senior advisor and completing fundraising on its secondequity growth fund in January last year.

“Imagine’s well-established reputation as a talent-friendly creative partner was incredibly important to us, and we look forward to helping them grow their business and continue to tell amazing stories and astonish and delight global audiences as they continue in this tradition,” said Raine co-founder Joe Ravitch.

He and Erik Hodge, who heads up Raine’s entertainment practice, will join Imagine’s board following the deal, financial terms of which were not revealed.

Jeff Sine and Ravitch launched Raine seven years ago in partnership with WME Entertainment, and have since then invested in Matt Stone and Trey Parkers’ production house Important Studios (South Park), youth-skewed multimedia brand Vice, YouTube network Tastemade and social TV platform Whipclip.

In 2014, Raine entered into a strategic partnership with Greek broadcaster Antenna Group, with the latter becoming the former’s European partner.

The US-based also brokered the launch of TV and film studio STX Entertainment, and has offices in New York, London, LA, San Francisco and Shanghai.