At first glance, Tribeca Enterprises, the company behind The Tribeca Film Festival, and The Madison Square Garden Company, whose holdings include The New York Knicks and The Radio City Christmas Spectacular, among many other media, sports and entertainment brands, don't seem like they would be natural partners.
But now that MSG has purchased a 50 percent interest in Tribeca Enterprises in an unprecedented deal between a festival and a media conglomerate, the two iconic entertainment brands will partner to grow the Tribeca Film Festival. The deal values Tribeca at $45 million.
"Bob De Niro and I have built a brand that supports community, artists, filmmakers and storytellers, we are thrilled to be a member of MSG’s family of iconic entertainment brands," said Jane Rosenthal, Tribeca Enterprises CEO and co-founder, in a statement. "Our partnership will allow us to grow the Festival and enhance the experience for our audience and provide more opportunities for the creative and filmmaking community nationally and internationally."
Since Rosenthal co-founded the TFF with DeNiro and Craig Hatkoff in 2002, the festival has expanded from its initial mission of revitalizing downtown Manhattan after the attacks on 9/11.
Given MSG's real estate holdings, which include Radio City Music Hall, Madison Square Garden, The Beacon Theater and other properties, the Tribeca Film Festival will expand beyond downtown to other sites around New York and around the country. MSG also owns The Chicago Theatre, The Forum in Inglewood, California and the Wang Theatre in Boston.
"We're looking at how MSG's reach into L.A. and Boston and Chicago can help us to continue to think creatively and openly about creating platforms in New York, outside of New York and year-round," Jon Patricof, president and COO, Tribeca Enterprises, told Indiewire.
While Patricof said that Tribeca's "commitment to lower Manhattan has been steadfast," he acknowledged that one of the biggest challenges in running a festival in New York City is finding venues. The relationship with MSG could certainly alleviate that problem. "They have The Beacon, Radio City Music Hall, The Theater at Madison Square Garden, which could all work well for special events," said Patricof.
New York’s Beacon Theater will host the film festival's opening night event in April and for the first time ever, Tribeca will sell tickets to the usually invitation-only event.
The partnership will allow both companies to explore joint sponsorship opportunities, while providing TFF with access to MSG's marketing and promotion expertise and platforms. MSG will have the opportunity to increase its stake in Tribeca Enterprises over time, but Patricof said that for the moment, the creative team will stay in place.
"The reason MSG is so excited about this partnership and opportunity, it's about the festival and what's been created and also the people involved. The creative team here will continue to drive the festival," he said.
While there are currently no plans to feature Tribeca content on MSG's broadcast properties, it hasn't been ruled out.
The main question is: why is MSG getting into the film festival business?
In a statement, Tad Smith, MSG president and CEO said: "This partnership with Tribeca Enterprises and the Tribeca Film Festival – one of the top film festivals in the world – strengthens MSG's position in the entertainment industry and is another example of our continued focus on pursuing attractive growth opportunities that make strategic sense for the company."