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‘Chernobyl’ Producing Studio Moves Into Music Space With Investment in Iconic London Venue Koko

The Hollywood Reporter
The Hollywood Reporter
 2021-10-20
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Sister , the fast-rising studio founded by the powerhouse trio of Jane Featherstone, Stacey Snider and Elisabeth Murdoch and which was behind HBO/Sky’s smash-hit miniseries Chernobyl , is making a significant move into the music space.

The production company, which has major upcoming projects including BBC/AMC drama This is Going to Hurt , starring Ben Whishaw, and the Olivia Colman-led miniseries Landscapers for HBO/Sky, has taken a stake in renowned London venue Koko, currently undergoing a major three-year £70 million ($96.8 million) restoration and due to reopen in Spring 2022.

Dating back to 1900, the near-legendary venue played host to the likes of Charlie Chaplin in its early days as a theater, later evolving into a BBC broadcasting center and famously used to transmit productions such as Monty Python’s Flying Circus and where the Rolling Stone recorded Live At Camden Theatre in 1964. Morphing into a music hall in the 1970s, it hosted much of the growing punk movement — including The Jam and The Clash — and later the New Romantic scene. More recently, following a restoration and relaunch in 2004, it has seen performances from the likes of Kanye West, Amy Winehouse, Madonna, Coldplay, Oasis and Lady Gaga.

Although financial details weren’t revealed, The Hollywood Reporter understands that Sister is becoming a minority shareholder in Koko with a 40 percent stake, the rest owned by CEO/founder Olly Bengough, who bought the venue in 2004. Sister also funded less than 50 percent of the restoration costs.

The new-look Koko — which has expanded to incorporate two neighboring buildings (including a pub favored by Charles Dickens) — will be a live music venue spanning 50,000 square feet, with numerous performance spaces and studios fitted, and with high-spec streaming capabilities throughout.

“It’s never been more important to support the next generation of artists and storytellers to collaborate, innovate and share their work. Although we’ve all been eager for the return of live music we’ve also been discovering new ways to engage with the artists we love through their creative endeavors in the digital space, keeping us united as a global community,” said Murdoch.

“It’s this connective power of music and the arts that Olly and his team are harnessing as they develop Koko into London’s first next generation global entertainment experience. At Sister we’re really excited to partner with Koko and to use our collective expertise, networks and shared independence to forge creative collaborations and empower artists and audiences around the world.”

Koko marks the latest in series of investments by Sister, which began life when Featherstone launched Sister Productions in 2014 and became Sister in 2019 with the addition of Snider and Murdoch. Backed by Murdoch’s considerable financial muscle, it has taken stakes in South of the River Pictures, the production company launched by Ed Sinclair and Olivia Colman, plus Molly Stern’s publishing venture Zando, podcast studio Campside Media and comic book and digital media published AWA Studios.

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