After acquiring an equity stake in Australian producer Matchbox Pictures in 2011, NBCUniversal International Television Production has now taken full ownership of the company via an undisclosed investment. This adds to NBCU’s stable of overseas production labels that also includes Carnival Films (Downton Abbey, Dracula), reality producer Monkey Kingdom and factual shingle Chocolate Media, all in the UK; as well as Lark Productions in Canada. Matchbox launched in 2008 and develops and produces drama, comedy, documentary and young adult television, and feature films. Earlier this month, NBC greenlighted The Slap, an eight-episode mini based on Matchbox’s 2011 complex family drama series. Universal Television and Matchbox are producing with Matchbox co-founder Tony Ayres as exec producer. Other recent Matchbox credits include the dramedy Camp which aired on NBC this summer and AACTA winning action adventure series Nowhere Boys, which Ayres created. Ayres, with co-founder Penny Chapman, will lead the creative team at Matchbox on the scripted side, and Kylie Washington will head up unscripted. The company will continue to operate as a distinct entity led by managing director Chris Oliver Taylor. NBCU provides a distribution network for Matchbox’s content outside of Australia and New Zealand.
As TV execs continue to hunt for the next big reality hit, NBCUniversal International Television Production is supercharging its unscripted business. The group has launched a dedicated unscripted development unit to be overseen by SVP of factual and entertainment, David Mortimer. The focus will be on creating big entertainment formats for the global market. The division will be made up of two complimentary teams, one focused on so-called “shiny floor entertainment shows,” and the other on returnable high-end factual entertainment formats. The in-house unit will exist alongside unscripted production companies Monkey Kingdom and Chocolate Media in the UK, Matchbox Pictures in Australia and Lark Productions in Canada. Mortimer, a former BBC exec who joined NBCUniversal in May, has a track record that includes Dragons’ Den, Great Britons, The Weakest Link and The Office.