The global brand development, marketing and entertainment platform Authentic Brands Group has today announced its expansion with the launch of Authentic Studios, a full-service production studio that will develop and produce film, TV and commercial content drawing on Authentic’s portfolio of more than 40 world-renowned brands.
The formation of Authentic Studios marks the next phase of growth of the Entertainment division at Authentic, which counts such entertainment and sports superstars as Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Muhammad Ali, Shaquille O’Neal and David Beckham amongst its portfolio, along with brands like Sports Illustrated, Reebok, Juicy Couture, Ted Baker, Brooks Brothers and Forever 21.
Authentic Studios will be based in Beverly Hills, where Authentic recently expanded with a new 15,000 square-foot West Coast headquarters, looking to maximize the value of the company’s owned brands while developing new IP.
Authentic Studios currently comprises four labels: Shaquille O’Neal’s Jersey Legends, David Beckham’s Studio 99, Sports Illustrated Studios and Authentic Productions. Each will create diversified content in all formats around Authentic’s key portfolio of brands and media properties, and Authentic Studios will simultaneously look for new material to develop and produce outside them, also participating in co-production and financing opportunities with third parties.
Both O’Neal’s Jersey Legends and Beckham’s Studio 99 additionally boast commercial divisions, providing in-house production services for commercial content and high-end creative development, which service a range of partners and clients. This provides turn-key solutions, allowing partners to operate against tighter production schedules, while creating stronger collaboration and more unified brand storytelling from concept to production.
Serving as President of Authentic Studios is Colin Smeeton, who joined Authentic more than seven years ago after being among the key executives who helped build O’Neal’s personal brand expansion, strategic partnerships and new business ventures. Smeeton has since been at the forefront of developing Authentic’s entertainment business, drawing on over 20 years of experience in film, television and documentaries. He most recently executive produced the Sports Emmy-nominated docuseries Shaq for HBO Max and has also produced multiple projects for Lionsgate, ABC, ESPN, TNT and Netflix.
UK media veteran Nicola Howson, who co-founded Studio 99 with Beckham and David Gardner, will continue to lead that business from Authentic’s London office. Jersey Legends co-founder Mike Parris will continue to run the label’s day-to-day business alongside Smeeton and serve as an exec producer for its content.
“Authentic Studios is unique in its ability to leverage Authentic’s in-house roster of brands and a deep catalog of IP to develop and produce content in all forms with 360-rights control,” said Smeeton. “Each of our four labels features a style of storytelling resulting in compelling content for all traditional and streaming mediums.”
O’Neal’s Jersey Legends most recently produced the aforementioned Shaq, chronicling the NBA star’s ascent to superstardom, and has multiple projects in various stages of development. The company is coming off a 2022 Best Documentary Short Oscar win for The Queen of Basketball, directed by Ben Proudfoot.
Studio 99’s production slate includes World War Shoe, a Disney+ documentary chronicling the sibling rivalry that spawned the global sneaker giants Puma and Adidas; a new biopic of world snooker legend Ronnie O’Sullivan; a Netflix docuseries charting the life and career of Beckham; and as-yet-unannounced series for Amazon and ESPN. Studio 99 has also recently delivered Save Our Squad for Disney+ and Fever Pitch, a history of the Premier League, for Paramount+.
Sports Illustrated Studios is set to produce an HBO documentary, based on the bombshell article from Sports Illustrated chronicling systemic sexual abuse within the Ohio State wrestling program, alongside George Clooney and Grant Heslov’s Smoke House Pictures and 101 Studios, with Oscar and Emmy winner Eva Orner directing. The studio is focused on developing and producing a range of scripted, alternative and documentary projects that originate from the media powerhouse’s vast library that features seven decades of storytelling, to be distributed across premium cable and streaming platforms.
Coming off of a banner year with the Golden Globe-winning and Academy Award-nominated Elvis and the critically acclaimed Netflix animated series Agent Elvis, Authentic Productions is in various stages of development on features, scripted series, docuseries, animation, musicals, new media and live events surrounding Presley, Ali and other Authentic brands.