What If...? What If...?

Global kids and family outfit Wildbrain has closed a deal to acquire Toronto-based pre-production studio House of Cool.

By acquiring House of Cool, Wildbrain more than doubles its pre-production team of about 80 employees working out of the company’s Vancouver offices. Under the deal, House of Cool will continue to work under the same name out of its current offices in Toronto.

Acquisition details:

  • Wildbrain is acquiring complete ownership of House of Cool for CAD$15.5 million (USD$11.4 million). From that total, CAD$10.25 (USD$7.5 million) comes through the issuance of 4,479,406 Wildbrain shares, with the other CAD$5.25 million (USD$3.8 million) to be paid in cash – less any debt existing on closing and subject to customary working capital adjustments and holdbacks. There is also an earn-out of up to CAD$6 million (USD$4.4 million) dependent on the collection of tax credits earned before closing.
  • The transaction is expected to close during Wildbrain’s fiscal 2023 fourth quarter, subject to conditions to closing.
  • House of Cool executives and co-founders Wes Lui and Ricardo Curtis will join Wildbrain’s senior management team in the newly created roles of co-general managers of House of Cool. The duo will report to Wildbrain president Josh Scherba, who heads up the Company’s content and studio business.
  • House of Cool is unique in that it is one of the few studios dedicated to commissioned pre-production work for animated films and series. Among the company’s high-profile series credits are Marvel’s What If…?, Disney’s Gravity Falls, Netflix’s Maya and the Three, and Apple TV+’s Pretzel and the Puppies. The company has also worked on blockbuster features including Illumination’s Despicable Me, Sony Pictures Animation’s Angry Birds, 20th Century Fox’s The Peanuts Movie, and Blue Sky Studio’s Ice Age and Rio franchises.
Wes Lui, Josh Scherba, Ricardo Curtis
Wes Lui, Josh Scherba, and Ricardo Curtis

Wildbrain president Scherba said in a release:

This acquisition is an investment in creative excellence. House of Cool is recognized as one of the very best pre-production companies in the global animation industry. We’re delighted to welcome Wes, Ricardo, and their team on board at Wildbrain, a combination of talent that will immediately broaden and deepen our collective creative strengths. Their expertise is highly complementary to our existing business, expanding and enhancing our pre-production capabilities, not only for Wildbrain’s proprietary content but also for third-party projects. The acquisition also establishes a new entry point for IP owners to engage with Wildbrain’s 360-degree offering across production, distribution, and consumer products licensing.

Lui added:

House of Cool’s mission is simple: bring audiences together through the artful telling of unique stories. Wildbrain shares our enthusiasm for storytelling, and from the moment they first approached us, we were ecstatic about combining forces and leveraging their 360-degree approach and our expertise in story and preproduction to develop, produce and distribute premium content. We will also further be able to offer more top-level creative services for all our clients.

And Curtis said:

As a fiercely independent operator for the last two decades, it would require something special for House of Cool to join another studio. Wildbrain is that special. Wildbrain has industry-leading expertise in production, distribution, and licensing, and its reach on multiple platforms greatly expands our ability and scope to connect with audiences. Mixed with their deep catalog of properties—many I grew up with—hitching House of Cool’s wagon to Wildbrain allows us to collaborate in previously unavailable ways on the premium content we are known for.

Pictured at top: Marvel’s What If…?

Latest News from Cartoon Brew