Fremantle Takes Stake in Graphic Novel Publisher AWA

Fremantle has deepened its relationship with Artists, Writers & Artisans, Inc. (AWA) by making a minority investment in the company.

Fremantle had struck a strategic development deal with AWA Studios, the film and television division of AWA, last year.

AWA is backed by James Murdoch’s Lupa Systems, SISTER, and Lightspeed Venture Partners. In 2021, the company established AWA Studios, helmed by Hollywood veteran Zach Studin as president. Marvel alum Axel Alonso serves as co-founder and chief creative officer overseeing editorial output. Matthew Anderson, co-chair and president and Jon Miller, co-founder and co-chair, lead AWA’s executive team.

The two companies have revealed that the first project on the joint development slate after Fremantle taking a stake in AWA is “Devil’s Highway,” a thriller based on the comic series by Benjamin Percy and Brent Schoonover in which a young woman seeks to unravel a sinister mystery hidden in the dark underbelly of the long-haul trucking industry.

Fremantle and Lupa Systems co-led the investment round alongside new capital from long-term backers of AWA and a number of strategic individual investors with expertise in production, finance, sports, human rights and technology.

The expanded partnership was spearheaded by Andrea Scrosati, Fremantle’s group COO and CEO continental Europe and Anderson.

Anderson said: “We admire how Fremantle has built on its long-standing strengths to become an international force in scripted drama and film. AWA’s success is built on collaborating with our creators to publish their stories in their purest form and then steering them to their fullest potential in film and TV. Andrea and the Fremantle team share this ethos and we are delighted for the unique opportunities this partnership will provide to our creators.”

Scrosati added: “The collaboration is a perfect strategic fit, giving AWA access to our global footprint, distribution infrastructure and production expertise and putting Fremantle at the very forefront of graphic fiction innovation. I also look forward working closely with Matthew and their world class leadership and creative teams to continue pushing boundaries and building a slate of ground-breaking projects together.”  

Projects in the works at AWA Studios include feature film adaptations of “Chariot” by Bryan Edward Hill and Priscilla Petraites, which Warner Bros. acquired in competitive bidding; “Marjorie Finnegan: Temporal Criminal” by Garth Ennis and Goran Sudzuka, which Ruben Fleischer will direct; and “Hotell” by John Lees and Dalibor Talajic, to be directed by Elle Callahan.

In December 2022, AWA formed a creative council including Reginald Hudlin, Gregg Hurwitz, Laeta Kalogridis, Joseph Kosinski, Al Madrigal and J. Michael Straczynski to help guide the company on creative matters and nurture ideas.

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