Bell Media and Cirque du Soleil have formally brought up the curtain on their new joint venture media partnership.
First announced in August, the new entity (majority owned by Cirque du Soleil) is called Cirque du Soleil Media. Its mandate is to create Quebec-based scripted and unscripted content for various platforms, including TV, film, digital and gaming. These products will be developed for sale and licensing in both Canada and international markets.
Bell and Cirque du Soleil also introduced Jacques Méthé as president of the new company. Méthé was previously executive producer and general manager of images, events and lifestyle for Cirque du Soleil.
The announcement comes just three days before the Dec. 21 premiere of the company’s first venture, a new 3D film entitled Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away.
Bell Media has created a TV special around the creation of the new business and the film, ETalk Presents: Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Apart, which will air this Friday on its CTV network, with a Dec. 27 rebroadcast on E!
The Montreal-based company will combine Cirque’s creative talent, consumer insight and infrastructure with Bell’s expertise in production, media platforms and content distribution, said the companies in a release. It will be governed by a board of directors comprised of representatives from both Bell Media and Cirque du Soleil.
The project was originally linked to Bell’s ill-fated deal for Astral Media, which was turned down by the CRTC in October. Bell had previously indicated that it would revisit the partnership if the Astral deal was rejected.
Bell is said to have committed as much as $15 million to the company (in a release it characterized its involvement as a “multi-million dollar investment”), which it called an extension of its strategy of investment in the development and distribution of Quebec content. Cirque du Soleil’s investment also includes its current slate of development projects.
In a release, Bell Media president Kevin Crull said the partnership was a way to deliver “more incredible content” to consumers, and suggested that there are numerous projects in the pipeline. “We’ve got so many ideas just waiting to be brought to life,” he said.
Speaking with Marketing in August, Ménthé said that Cirque du Soleil had been developing what he called “diversification” ideas for the past several years, and that content creation was a natural extension of the world-famous brand.
“We think our brand has the power and depth that we can use to create other kinds of entertainment,” he said at the time. “A couple of years into the process, we feel that we have explored enough and have the confidence that there is that kind of power within the brand.”