JJ Abrams inks 5-year production agreement with WarnerMedia


On September 12, The Hollywood Reporter revealed “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” helmer J.J. Abrams signed a new five-year production deal with WarnerMedia. The site noted the studio locked down the famous writer/director/producer to generate new content for its subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) platform HBO Max, which launches in spring 2020.

Production Deal Details

The publication reported Abrams new agreement would see his Bad Robot production company create content for Warner’s through 2024. As per the deal, the studio will finance the filmmaker’s movie, television, and video game concepts. The outlet didn’t say how much the contract is worth, but sources pegged it at $250 million.

In its 21 year history, Bad Robot has established itself as one of Hollywood’s most distinctive and successful production companies. The firm is responsible for bringing the “Cloverfield” franchise, the “Star Trek” reboot films, and the last three “Mission: Impossible” movies to the big screen. The company also produced acclaimed and popular TV shows like “Alias,” “Lost,” and “Person of Interest.”

Notably, the director’s new deal with WarnerMedia will not impact the projects he’s currently working on. As such, he will continue to produce HBO’s “Westworld,” Hulu’s “Castle Rock,” and Apple TV+’s “Lisey’s Story,” “Little Voice,” and “My Glory Was I Had Such Friends.”

Abrams has reportedly sought a new production deal since June. During that time, Bad Robot met with representatives from Apple, Disney, Netflix, and Warner’s in search of an agreement. Aware of the new media landscape, the company’s pitch promised a certain number of projects produced per year. WarnerMedia made striking an agreement with Abrams’ firm a priority because it wants premium content for its SVOD service.

Streaming Wars’ Biggest Production Contracts

With Apple, Disney, Netflix, and WarnerMedia engaged in a streaming content war, several Hollywood luminaries have landed huge production deals.

Last year, Netflix locked “American Horror Story” and “Glee” maker Ryan Murphy down with a $300 million production deal. Similarly, the streaming service lured “Greys Anatomy” and “Scandal” creator Shonda Rhimes away from ABC with a $100 million contract in 2017.

To counter its rivals, WarnerMedia has been on something of a spending spree recently. The firm signed “Arrowverse” and “Riverdale” architect Greg Berlanti to a $400 million agreement that runs through 2024 in June. Last November, the studio made a production pact with Academy Award-nominated “Selma” director Ava DuVernay. Plus, in February, the conglomerate’s television division inked a reported eight-figure deal with actress/writer/producer Mindy Kaling.

Now, the question is which platform will produce the next big SVOD hit. Netflix proved streaming services could compete with the networks with “House of Cards” and “Orange Is the New Black.” But those shows stood out in part because the digital TV space was far less crowded in the early 2000s than it is today.

In the now fragmented landscape, streaming services will need to produce new hits to survive.

Currently, Disney+ aims to win the streaming wars by outspending its rivals. Netflix is still trying to be the everything to everyone SVOD, though it’s rapidly losing legacy content. Apple is looking to attract audiences with the blandest programming slate in American mass media. And Warner’s wants to win over viewers with a limited number of high-quality movies and TV shows.

Though Netflix rules the roost now, it’ll be interesting to see which platform reigns supreme in a year.