CAA companion Constellation Immersive receives “substantial” funding from 30West – Frist
EXCLUSIVE: One year after it was founded, the CAA subsidiary Constellation Immersive, an adventure entertainment subsidiary, received a “substantial” stake from 30West, a leading finance and consulting firm.
A backer to companies like Neon and streaming series and feature films, 30West joins founding partners Crossroads Live, a theater entertainment company, and Baroda Ventures, a Los Angeles-based venture capital firm.
Former co-head of CAA Film Finance and Sales Group, Micah Green, joined Dan Friedkin from Texas at 30West in 2018.
Constellation Immersive was founded in 2020 by Marty LaSalle and Thao Nguyen from CAA. It was designed as a way to offer options to customers and partners during the coronavirus pandemic when personal options did not yet exist. In the year since Covid-19 restrictions were eased in many parts of the world and vaccines that allow for freer movement, the outfit has “a lot of catching up to do,” Nguyen Deadline said in an interview. As sales models, protocols and even the urban population change dramatically at the beginning of the 2020s, the company at CAA has become a “think tank or brain trust for our colleagues” that operates in a challenging environment.
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So far, two projects have emerged from this. The most recent was DiscOasis, a music and roller skating mashup overseen by famed record producer Nile Rodgers at a site-specific ice rink at the South Coast Botanic Garden in Palos Verdes, California. It was opened to the public in July.
A more family-oriented experience was The Elf on the Shelf’s Magical Holiday Journey. It featured an original story from Chanda A. Bell, co-founder and co-CEO of The Lumistella Company, home of the brand, which recently established a streaming relationship with Netflix. The set was designed by David Korins, best known for the original Broadway production of Hamilton and the 2019 Academy Awards, among other things. The show sold out in 2020 and will return to LA this holiday season and expand into Dallas.
In terms of business models, experiential entertainment is a mix of several, and the outlines are still emerging. Ticket sales and merchandise are potential sources, but also live streams, non-fungible tokens, licenses or other activities related to the experiences.
The next project in the Constellation pipeline is slated to start in the first half of 2022 and has significant talent retention, Nguyen and LaSalle said, though they refused to provide details.
For CAA, whose core business has changed dramatically with changing release windows and strategies, experiential entertainment should be a piece of ground, with a view far beyond the pandemic.
“The in-depth interest we’ve received includes intellectual property, writers, musicians, storytellers – it’s really pervasive,” said LaSalle. “There really aren’t many companies out there that would deliver on such a creative level.”
With a positive press and fan reaction to DiscOasis over the course of the summer and a renewed commitment to Elf on the Shelf, Nguyen said: “What we do has been socialized in the company. We receive a lot of incoming inquiries from across the agency. People are just very interested in finding creative ways to reach the audience. “