ImpactAlpha, Feb. 19 – The former Hollywood super agent spotted a disconnect. Those green-lighting movies and TV didn’t represent the diverse audiences consuming them. “There was such a tremendous void of opportunity,” Charles King said recently on Variety’s Strictly Business podcast.
The producer and entrepreneur founded the film finance and production company Macro in 2015 to put voices and perspectives of persons of color in front of mass audiences. Macro’s latest film, Judas and the Black Messiah, depicts the betrayal of Fred Hampton, the leader of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party in the late 1960s.
Macro has achieved critical success with movies like Fences, Just Mercy, and Mudbound. Macro’s first two TV offerings, Raising Dion, one of the 10 most popular Netflix series of 2019, and Gentefied, have both been renewed. The slate is also financially outperforming. King says Macro has recouped or made a return on 80% of its projects – a rare feat in the media business.
To change the industry, and the culture, King says he tapped investors who “saw the impact side, but most importantly, they saw the business opportunity” (see, Investing in the impact of powerful new voices in film and video games”).
He raised $150 million from Emerson Collective and the Ford, Kellogg and Libra foundations to produce a slate of films and TV shows (Emerson led the investment in Macro’s holding company as well).
Getting authentic, high-impact stories seen by as many people as possible has meant working with superstars like Denzel Washington and Michael B. Jordan, as well as rising talent like Daniel Kaluuya and Lakeith Stanfield. For Judas, he teamed up with Black Panther producer Ryan Coogler to amplify the story of new writer and director Shaka King. He has co-financed films with Participant Media to drive impact, and with Warner Brothers for global distribution.
That reach, including deals with HBO Max, Disney Plus, Amazon and Apple, as well as Netflix, is invaluable, he says. “To be able to do that in this environment, in six years, to become a go-to company for this space, authentically, you couldn’t put money on that.”