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Fremantle takes a majority stake in Normal People prodco Element Pictures

Andrew Lowe (L) and Ed Guiney

European production and distribution group Fremantle has acquired a majority stake in UK film and drama production company Element Pictures, the firm behind the BBC’s adaptations of Sally Rooney’s Normal People and Conversations with Friends.

Working across production, distribution and exhibition, Element Pictures is managed by co-founders Ed Guiney and Andrew Lowe, with offices in Dublin, London and Belfast.

The deal was spearheaded by Andrea Scrosati, Fremantle’s Group chief operating officer and Continental Europe CEO, and Lorenzo De Maio, of De Maio Entertainment.

Element’s forthcoming television productions include Conversations With Friends, based on Rooney’s debut novel. The 12-part series was developed and produced by Element Pictures, directed by Lenny Abrahamson and Leanne Welham, co-written by Alice Birch and will premiere on BBC and Hulu on May 15 before rolling out globally soon after.

This follows on from Element’s award-winning adaptation of Rooney’s best-selling novel Normal People, released in 2020.

Guiney and Lowe said in a statement: “We are huge fans of the people at Fremantle, their vision for the future and the extraordinary talent they are working with across film and television.”

Scrosati said: “Fremantle is proud to be investing and partnering with the very best creative minds in the business. Ed, Andrew and the amazing Element Pictures team certainly fall into this category. They have built an astonishing company, which has become one of Europe’s most exciting and innovative creative production companies.

“We look forward to working closely with their immensely talented creatives, helping to build on their slate of high-quality, sophisticated and powerful productions. Creative freedom will sit at the very heart of this partnership, and everyone at Fremantle is excited to be working with the Element Pictures team and supporting their growth internationally.”

Last August, Fremantle’s parent, RTL Group, announced its aim to increase the company’s full-year revenue to €3bn (US$3.2bn) by 2025.

Fremantle’s investment in Element Pictures follows a number of acquisitions over the past 12 months, including UK-based independent prodco Dancing Ledge (The Responder), scripted Italian production company Lux Vide (Devils, Leonardo), international development and production company Fabel (Bosch), US-Australian TV prodco Eureka Productions (Parental Guidance, Finding Magic Mike) and UK unscripted outfit Label1 (Hospital, Five Guys a Week, Soldier), plus 12 production labels in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark from Nordic Entertainment Group (This is Nice Group).

In addition to spearheading the deal, Fremantle-backed De Maio Entertainment will be a strategic advisor and partner across Element Pictures’ slate.

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