Wilbur Smith IP Rights up for sale – ACF hired to handle the sale process
The market is buzzing with excitement over this once in a lifetime opportunity to acquire, Wilbur Smith’s IP Rights, one of the world’s bestselling authors in the adventure and historical fiction genre known for his action-packed storylines and vivid depictions of Africa and its history. He has published over 50 novels, has sold 140 million copies (more than Ian Fleming) and generated sales in excess of £1.6bn worldwide.
Wilbur Smith’s latest novel, NEMESIS, is enjoying its fourth week in The Sunday Times (UK) Top Ten list. A brand-new historical epic from the Master of Adventure, in which three strands of the Courtney family converge in a bloodthirsty bid for revenge. This is an ideal opportunity for a long running TV series.
The Wilbur Smith Estate (Leopard Rock Studios) has hired ACF Investment Bank (“ACF”) the global media and entertainment investment bank, and brokers of The Saul Zaentz company in the sale of “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” Intellectual Property to Embracer Group, to handle the sale process which kick-started this week. They have already started contacting the logical international buyers and expect a strong response to this huge library of IP.
Wilbur Smith’s multiple books are a great source of IP content and has significant financial potential to be adapted into multiple Hollywood blockbuster movies, long running TV shows, and popular children’s animations. Wilbur Smith’s early foray from page to screen in the 1990’s demonstrates the viewer appetite. Films included Wild Justice, Shout at the Devil, Gold, and award-winning Dark of the Sun. These compare with other authors of the same genre for example, Ian Fleming’s OO7, Roald Dahl’s Matilda, James Paterson’s Alex Cross, Robert Ludlum’s Jason Bourne, and JK Rowling’s Harry Potter.
Future Revenue and Titles
Prior to Wilbur Smith’s passing he set up a ‘writers’ room’ to continue to develop, adapt, replenish, and modernize his works. Twelve novels are scheduled for publication from 2023 through 2027, with an additional six completed novels and 10 outlines in a story vault, overseen by Wilbur before he passed.
What’s for sale? All non-literary Media Rights including Television, Film, Theme Parks, Theatrical, Gaming, and Merchandise.
Who should acquire this IP? This rich treasure trove of IP is an ideal opportunity for any of the big international studios, production groups, or streamers with creative horsepower, that want to reimagine and exploit proprietary content and maximise the diversity of the IP through multiple scripted television series, feature films, video games, merchandising, immersive experiences, and advertising revenue.
IP for exploitation
The Courtney Series – this is the longest running family saga frontier, neo western in publishing history and is based during the period 17th to 20th century (akin to the Dutton Family in Yellowstone).
The Ballantyne Series – A Scottish family saga at the end of the slave trade (1840s) and the competing American and Portuguese interests on the Zambezi River, all the way through the creation of modern Zimbabwe.
Ancient Egypt Series – this includes a book series titled River God (akin to Game of Thrones). It is one of the bestselling series in publishing history, and comprises eight novels, with a further four to be published.
Modern Spy Series – this includes a three novel series titled Hector Cross (akin to the Jason Bourne film series)
Children Adventure Series – this includes Prey Zone (akin to Alex Rider or The Maze Runner) and a Jack Courtney series which is in development and is being produced by Keith Chapman, creator of Bob the Builder and Paw Patrol.
“Best Historical Novelist? I say Wilbur Smith, with his swashbuckling novels of Africa. The bodices rip and the blood flows. You can get lost in Wilbur Smith and misplace all of August.”
Stephen King, author of The Shining (Stephen King’s summer book awards in Entertainment Weekly)
“Wilbur Smith is a classic example of a prime library of rich IP that has a massive global following (over 1 million books a year). This could position an ambitious buyer with two decades of developed storytelling and Intellectual Property.”
Thomas Dey, Chief Executive Officer, ACF Investment Bank