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Springbok Productions, (stock ticker: SPBK (New York Stock Exchange, Nasdaq, Toronto Stock Exchange, London Stock Exchange, Euronext, Stock Exchange of India, Tokyo Stock Exchange, Hong Kong Stock Exchange, Australian Stock Exchange)), is a multi-armed entertainment conglomerate founded in July 1999 by Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, actress Charlize Theron, and film producer Jennifer Todd. Springbok Productions focuses on film and television production, animation, anime dubbing and adaptations, digital content, video games, staged musical theatre, amusement park attractions, book publishing, and a record label. It includes several divisions such as Denver and Delilah Animation, Enima Studios, Enima Games, Springbok Games, Autumn Deer Publishing, Dark Horse Entertainment and Exploitation Records.

Since 2010, the company's main corporate headquarters has been in Toronto, Canada, but its main operating center of business has always been the 1087-acre studio lot located in Playa Vista, Los Angeles, since it opened in 2001. Jennifer Todd has been CEO and Executive Chairperson of Springbok since its founding.

Since rocketing on the scene with its debut project of Ghost in the Shell in 2001, Springbok has enjoyed a massively successful run, and has a market valuation well over $105 billion. Film critic Richard Roeper has called Springbok "the biggest success story, not just in Hollywood, but in the entire world, in the 21st century. Springbok has completely changed the social order of the entertainment industry, and its influence will continue to be felt for generations to come."

History[]

Origins (1997-2001)[]

After Kurt Cobain and Charlize Theron began dating and eventually married, they discovered a love of anime and manga, and talked about the idea of helping bring these stories and series to the silver screen in a big way. Theron, for her part, also was looking forward to becoming more than an actor, and also expanding into forming a production company to produce her own projects.

To help bring the idea to life, they began researching production companies and studios in Hollywood, and itemizing news updates in publications such as Variety and The Hollywood Reporter. Looking to also have a source of funding beyond Cobain's Nirvana royalties and Theron's film salaries, they began investing in a variety of things, such as bank CDs, mutual funds and real estate investment trust companies such as Vornado Realty Trust and Mortimer Zuckerman's Boston Properties; becoming investing members of the restaurant chains Planet Hollywood and Miami Subs Pizza & Grill, helping to bring in a turnaround in their fortunes; and also becoming investors in the Robert Zemeckis films What Lies Beneath and Cast Away. Then they began turning to other outside investors to bring money to the table, starting with close friends and peers, such as Alice in Chains members Layne Staley and Jerry Cantrell, Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell, Stone Temple Pilots frontman Scott Weiland, REM frontman Michael Stipe, and actor Chris Farley. Then they secured additional funding from various wealthy figures as venture capitalists Tim Draper and Steve Jurvetson, Oracle founder Larry Ellison, Virgin Group founder Richard Branson, Miami Dolphins star quarterback Dan Marino, Starbucks CEO Howard Schwartz, General Electric CEO Jack Welch, CJ Group/CJ Entertainment heiress Miky Lee, former Kentucky governor and fast food franchisee John Y. Brown, Jr., successful music manager and mogul Irving Azoff (later to become a Springbok board member and Nirvana's manager), veteran film producer Jerry Weintraub (also to become a Springbok board member), Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, and some comic book industry veterans.

Having secured a sizable war chest of $3.6 billion dollars, Springbok was announced with a flourish in July 1999, starting with purchasing a previously planned, and now abandoned, 1087-acre site for a studio lot for DreamWorks Pictures in Playa Vista, California, to become Springbok's base of operations, for $750 million, and secured a deal with Columbia Pictures for its debut project, a live action adaptation of the popular manga and anime Ghost in the Shell, which would debut in 2001.

Rise to prominence (2001-2004)[]

In 2001, the release of Ghost in the Shell to critical acclaim and box office success officially gave the company a win and the ground to continue onward. Later that year, their first TV series, the animated series Aqua Teen Hunger Force, premiered on Cartoon Network's new Adult Swim programming block, as well as revivals of the PBS game shows Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? and Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego?, both of which still run to this day. The company began to ramp up the following year, especially after receiving further investments from the likes of Warren Buffett, Les Wexner, Michael Jordan, George Soros, Ted Turner and investment banks. 2002 would see the release of Noble Rot, Dragon's Lair, Workshop and the Broadway musical Dance of the Vampires, composed and co-written by Jim Steinman. The success of these projects helped further establish Springbok as a company. Exploitation Records also signed many notable artists to its roster, including Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Rush, Stone Temple Pilots, Kansas, Journey, Foreigner, Boston, Richard Marx, Ice-T, Nas, Billy Ray Cyrus, Elton John, Cyndi Lauper, Michael Jackson, Meat Loaf and Dolly Parton.

In 2003, Springbok released Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill: Volume 1 with Disney's Touchstone Pictures. It and its followup the next year established Tarantino as able to achieve success without Harvey Weinstein, and further established Springbok's rise. At the end of the year, Patty Jenkins' film Monster, starring Theron as convicted killer Aileen Wuornos, achieved incredible critical acclaim and won Theron the Best Actress Oscar for her performance. Also in 2003, Springbok experienced great success with Richard Linklater's The School of Rock, and its first flop, with James Cox's film Wonderland, which was a box office failure.

In 2004, Springbok and Warner Bros. Pictures released a film version of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical The Phantom of the Opera, directed by Joel Schumacher and starring Gerard Butler, Anne Hathaway, Patrick Wilson and Minnie Driver. The film received positive reviews and box office, and further burnished Springbok's reputation. Springbok also bought an equity stake of Six Flags New Orleans to help the theme park profitable. It also began working with Walt Disney Imagineering and Universal Creative to make theme park attractions for Disney and Universal theme parks, starting with the building of Disney's America in Walt Disney World.

Springbok became known for helping shoulder prints & advertising costs of its projects and taking a considerable hand in the marketing to maximize their value, in order to help lighten the burden on the distributors and better planning out the campaigns to tailor them to specific viewers.

Expansion (2006-2014)[]

In 2005, Springbok co-produced Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins, the first film of his Dark Knight trilogy, and established their success with massive tentpole pictures. At the same time, they co-produced the sci-fi heist film Diamond Dogs, starring Ray Liotta, which was a dud; and the Michael Jackson superhero film MidKnight, which did middlingly well. It also released their first followup stage musical production, Elton John and Bernie Taupin's Lestat. It bought the rights to the hit Fox TV series House M.D. from the remains of Bryan Singer's production company Bad Hat Harry Productions. It also started the anthology series The Devil's Advocate, an expansion of the 1997 film of the same name Theron had appeared in, and the successful late night talk show, The Chris Farley Show, a full version of the famous Saturday Night Live skit. Springbok used its stake in Six Flags New Orleans to help rebuild the park after Hurricane Katrina, managing to reopen it in time for the 2007 season.

During 2006, Springbok experienced incredible success with films such as The Departed, Borat, The Prestige and Apocalypto; the last of which came during a flurry of controversy after its director, Mel Gibson, was arrested on DUI charges on July 28, where he made a barrage of anti-Semitic remarks and badmouthed Springbok.

In 2007, Springbok achieved success with films such as No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood, and the hit series Burn Notice. Springbok's rise continued unabated, even after the Great Recession. It continued with many notable projects over the years, including War Horse, Lincoln, Django Unchained, 12 Years a Slave, Sailor Moon, Sailor Moon: Crystal Heart, American Horror Story, American Crime Story, BoJack Horseman, The Wolf of Wall Street and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

In 2010, Springbok established its corporate headquarters in Toronto, as well as letting its stock be publicly traded on various worldwide stock exchanges. It also bought various company libraries, either through the whole companies or just the library rights, including those of Witt/Thomas Productions, Rysher Entertainment, Revolution Studios, Cruise/Wagner Productions and Artisan Entertainment. Springbok also bought several lower-tier cinema chains to expand into the exhibition business, notably Cobb Theatres and Muvico Theatres in America, Vue Cinemas in Europe, and HOYTS Cinemas in Australia.

In 2010, Springbok also started several magazine ventures attached to Autumn Deer Publishing, notably revivals of the investigative magazine New West and the political/celebrity magazine George, purchasing the UK music magazine Vive Le Rock, and starting its own in-house animation magazine, Animation Domination.

In 2014, Springbok purchased Dark Horse Comics and Dark Horse Entertainment, with the intention to create a cinematic universe out of the various Dark Horse IPs.

Media Empire (2015-present)[]

In 2015, Springbok joined in the creation of Amblin Partners alongside Steven Spielberg, Participant Media, Reliance Entertainment and Entertainment One, to create a media company focused on using the DreamWorks Pictures, Amblin Entertainment and Participant Media brands for films and including Amblin Television for television projects. It also made a deal to create a second studio lot, a 100-acre property near Atlanta, for productions.

The creation of several different new gates at Walt Disney World helped establish a boom for Springbok, which had assisted Walt Disney Imagineering in helping bring them to fruition.

In 2019, Springbok sold half of its stake in Autumn Deer Publishing to HarperCollins, and also sold its stake in Six Flags New Orleans, adding billions to the company's value.

During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Springbok helped successfully lobby for comprehensive entertainment industry relief during the few months it was shut down, and also did negotiations to encourage a change in the so-called "theatrical window" for exhibition of new films in cinemas, including changing it to an industry standard of 42-60 days of exclusivity and setting comprehensive standards for P&A costs for films.


Divisions and Ventures[]

While the film, TV and staged musical theater branch simply known as Springbok Productions is considered the main division of the company, Springbok Productions have been involved in various other business endeavors.

Exploitation Records[]

Main article: Exploitation Records

Exploitation Records is the record label arm of Springbok Productions, for releasing albums, singles and concert videos by the various artists under its stable. Originally founded as a vanity label for Nirvana during a five-album deal with Atlantic Records, it became fully independent in 2001, and worked to sign dozens of other artists in addition to Nirvana, soon becoming one of the premiere record labels in the industry. It is also known for releasing cast recording albums of various Broadway stage productions Springbok has produced, most notably Dance of the Vampires, Hamilton (alongside Atlantic Records), and Ghost Brothers of Darkland County, among other musicals.

Denver and Delilah Animation[]

Main article: Denver and Delilah Animation

Denver and Delilah Animation is the division of Springbok focused on animated film and television projects. Among its notable works are Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Dragon's Lair, Space Ace, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Star vs. the Forces of Evil, Metalocalypse, Code Lyoko and BoJack Horseman.

Autumn Deer Press[]

Main article: Autumn Deer Press

Autumn Deer Press is the book publishing division of Springbok. It is known for publishing nonfiction and fiction titles in various genres. It owns and publishes the magazine imprints New West, George, Vive Le Rock and Animation Domination. It also includes Dark Horse Comics as an imprint since Springbok bought the company in 2014. Its first book was the 2001 autobiography of actress Anne Heche. Admittedly the slowest-growing division of the company, Springbok sold half of its stake in the company to HarperCollins in 2019.

Enima Studios[]

Main article: Enima Studios

Enima Studios is a division focused on creating English-language dubs of anime and foreign animation series, as well as live-action adaptations of anime and manga properties. It also does dubbing work on series not technically considered anime but inspired by it, such as Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir. Among its notable film adaptations include series like Death Note, Sailor Moon, Inuyasha and Black Butler.

Dark Horse Entertainment[]

Main article: Dark Horse Entertainment

Dark Horse Entertainment is the film and television division of Dark Horse Comics. Since the 1990s, it has done various projects in film and television, including The Mask and Timecop. Since 2014, Dark Horse Comics and Dark Horse Entertainment have been owned by Springbok, with the intention of creating a cinematic universe on par with the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the DC Extended Universe. Under Springbok's ownership, the division has made projects such as the Blockbuster Entertainment series The Umbrella Academy and the film Hellboy III: Silverlance.

Springbok Games[]

Main article: Springbok Games

Springbok Games is the video game division of Springbok, focused on turning out titles. Its first notable work was helping make the console port of Valve Software's Half-Life 2, and working on the three episodic sequels to that game. It first gained notable attention with its original RPG title Zophyre, as well as its sequel. Among its other notable titles include joining the Call of Duty and Deus Ex franchises, and the episodic puzzle adventure game Life Is Strange. Attached to it is Enima Games, which is also attached to Enima Studios, dedicated to making anime-based video games.

Springbok Ventures[]

Springbok Ventures is the venture capital investment division of Springbok, founded in 2013. It has a focus on young entrepreneurs and projects and companies centered on technological change, social justice and activism.

DADP Holdings[]

DADP Holdings is a project financing division of Springbok, dedicated to giving film, television and video game projects money that Springbok will not join in as a producer. Most of their work comes in financing films, television series and documentaries. This division informally began with Cobain and Theron's investing in What Lies Beneath and Cast Away. Among some of its most notable financing works includes the 2005 film of The Producers, Marie Antoinette, Life With Judy Garland: Me & My Shadows, Nip/Tuck, East of Havana, The Last Dance and A Wilderness of Error.

Filmography/Projects[]

Main article: List of Springbok Productions Projects

External links[]

Categories: Springbok | 1999 establishments in California | Companies based in Vancouver | Film production companies of the United States | Mass media companies established in 1999

This page was last edited on 26 February 2024, at 20:08 (UTC).

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