Helion advises Australian drama producer Werner Film Productions on its sale to BBC Studios

Helion is pleased to announce it has advised Australian drama producer Werner Film Productions on its sale to BBC Studios.

Melbourne based Werner Film Productions (WFP) is an award-winning production company founded by one of Australia’s most prominent drama producers, Joanna Werner, which is best known for the international hit drama series, The Newsreader.

The Newsreader, for the ABC & eOne has sold to over 80 territories, including to the BBC in the UK and to Roku in the United States. The series went on to win five 2021 AACTA awards, including Best Drama Series, then in 2022 collected Logies for Outstanding Drama Series. The highly anticipated second season aired in September of 2023 which secured 15 AACTA Award Nominations and five AACTA Awards, including Best Drama Series. Season 2 also has been successful internationally, earning a nomination for Best Returning Drama in the 2023 C21 Drama Awards. Season 3 is currently filming in Melbourne.

WFP also made an international splash with the Netflix teen series Surviving Summer. Season 1 premiered worldwide on Netflix in 2022 and was an instant hit, climbing into Netflix’s Top Ten in over 42 countries. Season 2 launched in September 2023, gathering a cult teenage following across the world with it reaching Netflix’s Top 10 in 49 Countries and 31.8 million hours viewed in the first month.

In 2023, Crazy Fun Park a tween horror-comedy premiered on the ABC to a fabulous reception, beating Australian children’s television giant, Bluey, at the 2023 Logie Awards to take the award for Most Outstanding Children’s Program. The series also sold internationally to CBBC and Hulu.

Prior to its recent successes, WFP was internationally recognised for three hugely successful seasons of the Emmy-nominated and Logie Award-winning Dance Academy and its follow up Feature Film, Dance Academy: The Movie. It also produced the AACTA award winning Telemovie Riot, adult six-part drama Secret City in association with Matchbox Pictures and Emmy nominated, Logie and AACTA Award winning tween drama Ready For This, a co-venture with Blackfella Films.

Werner will continue to be led by Joanna Werner and Managing Director Stuart Menzies. The newly acquired prodco will operate alongside BBC Studios’ Australian production arm as an independent label, with both companies producing their own projects.

 “We’re thrilled to be joining the global powerhouse BBC Studios and the brilliant team at BBC Studios Productions Australia. Helion have been pivotal in helping us negotiate the deal and ensuring our financial interests have been protected throughout the deal process. Their knowledge of the Australian production M&A market has been invaluable to us as we take this important next step.”

Joanna Werner, founder of WFP

“It’s great to have advised Jo and her team on their sale to BBC Studios.  The success of The Newsreader is globally renowned and they deserve every reward. This is our second transaction in the Australian drama production market in a little over a year and highlights the attractions of the market for global producer distributors as they seek to gain access to the most internationally successful English language dramas.”

Tom Manwaring, Helion Partners

Helion has closed 8 leading transactions in the past two years, including the sale of fellow Australian producer Lingo Pictures to ITV Studios, The Forge to Banijay and Element Pictures to Fremantle.

Helion Partners is a specialist M&A firm providing partner-led advice to leading companies and investors within the media, entertainment and marketing services sectors.

If you’re considering selling, buying, setting up a new company or coming to the end of your earn out, and want to discuss the options, please email Tom Manwaring at [email protected].