Bell and Cirque du Soleil pact on entertainment content in Quebec

The tie-up for make-and-sell film, TV, digital and gaming content comes as the phone giant faces mounting industry opposition to its takeover of Montreal-based Astral Media.

BCE Inc. and Cirque du Soleil have formed a joint venture to develop Québec-based media content for TV, film, digital, and gaming platforms.

The new business will leverage the Cirque’s creative bench strength and the company’s Bell Media division’s production expertise and platforms to create content for sale and licensing around the world.

The deal comes ahead of the takeover of Astral Media, and Bell Canada facing opposition from rival Quebec media groups over concerns for market concentration in that province.

In the wake of that opposition and pursuing regulatory approval for the takeover, Bell Canada has proposed spending $80 million on new content for Quebec.

“Bell’s multi-million dollar investment with Cirque du Soleil represents two great Montréal companies coming together to further develop Québec’s world-renowned creative industry,” George Cope, president and CEO of Bell and BCE, said in a statement Tuesday.

“Working closely with Cirque du Soleil aligns perfectly with Bell’s commitment to make Québec’s best content available to as wide an audience as possible,” he added.

The Cirque has been the subject of varied film and TV projects by Canadian and foreign producers over the years.

The latest includes the Cirque’s 3D feature film Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away being distributed by Paramount Pictures in December.