Cirque du Soleil Adds to Show-Biz Empire With Illusionists Deal

(Bloomberg) -- Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group is acquiring a troupe of magicians called the Illusionists, building on a global live-performance empire that already includes the Blue Man Group and theatrical shows.

The company is paying about $40 million for Works Entertainment, which owns the Illusionists franchise, according to a person familiar with the terms, which aren’t public. Cirque du Soleil is drawing on a $120 million credit line to finance the transaction.

The purchase is the third recent deal by the circus-show giant, which aims to leverage its global operations to help popularize newer acts. The Illusionists is a revue show that has featured a range of magicians, including “America’s Got Talent” champion Shin Lim.

Cirque du Soleil Adds to Show-Biz Empire With Illusionists Deal

“The Works productions have natural affinities with our own, in that they are high-quality universal live experiences that appeal to different audiences from different cultures around the world without having to adapt the show to each market,” Cirque du Soleil Chief Executive Officer Daniel Lamarre said.

Cirque du Soleil also is preparing to unveil a new show in October that will target a younger demographic, Lamarre said. As yet unnamed, it is inspired by Hollywood movies and live-action stunts and is designed to attract an audience that’s accustomed to immersive video games and films.

“It’s a good way to relaunch the brand,” Lamarre said in an interview.

Cirque du Soleil Adds to Show-Biz Empire With Illusionists Deal

Billion-Dollar Mark

The Montreal-based circus group should exceed $1 billion in sales this year, setting a new record, he said.

Expanding globally has had some hitches. In December, Cirque du Soleil ended negotiations to be featured in China’s “Spring Festival Gala,” one of the world’s most-watched TV shows.

The company plans to use the balance of its credit line -- made available by Fonds de Solidarite and the Caisse de Depot et Placement du Quebec -- for future dealmaking. It acquired Blue Man Group in 2017 and VStar Entertainment Group in 2018. The latter company is known for its kid-oriented performances, such as “Paw Patrol Live!”

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