WarnerMedia has finalized its massive film and TV deal with J.J. Abrams and his Bad Robot production company.
The deal gives the media powerhouse exclusive rights to any film, TV show, video game and streaming content from Abrams’ Bad Robot outfit.
The wide-ranging agreement begins immediately — meaning that Abrams will exit his film deal with Paramount — and runs through at least 2024. Bad Robot will fulfill any existing obligations with Paramount, including the seventh “Mission Impossible” film and a potential fourth “Star Trek” film. Abrams is also directing and producing Disney’s upcoming “Star Wars” film, “The Rise of Skywalker.”
“WarnerMedia and AT&T are delighted to launch a long-term collaboration with our world-class partners and colleagues J.J. Abrams and Katie McGrath. We are extremely excited about the potential to deliver remarkable and memorable stories and characters across multiple platforms to audiences around the world. J.J., Katie and all of Bad Robot bring extraordinary vision, exquisite filmmaking, and exemplary industry leadership to this endeavor and our company,” said WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey. “Across all forms of content, we are uniquely positioned to offer our creative partners a multitude of platforms to realize their artistic goals and ambitions, and to ensure that their stories have the best possible opportunity to connect with the right audience.”
The deal gives WarnerMedia a major producer in its stead while it preps the launch of its streaming service, HBO Max, which will be out next spring. WarnerMedia will give more details about the upcoming service at its investor day on Oct. 29. Bad Robot, run by Abrams and his wife, Katie McGrath, had been at the center of a bidding war that also included Apple and NBCUniversal.
On the TV side, Abrams and Bad Robot have been set up with Warner Bros. TV since 2006; that deal most-recently renewed in 2015. Bad Robot’s series will continue to be produced in association with Warner Bros. Television, Warner Horizon Scripted Television or WBTVG’s digital studio Blue Ribbon Content, with Warner Bros. International Television Distribution distributing the shows around the globe.
Current TV series under Bad Robot include Hulu’s “Castle Rock” and HBO’s “Westworld.” Bad Robot has two more series in the works for the pay cable network: “Demimonde” (which Abrams created) and Jordan Peele’s “Lovecraft Country.” Abrams’ company is also developing a trio of series for Apple’s upcoming streaming service, Apple TV+ with “Lisey’s Story,” “Little Voice” and “My Glory Was I Had Such Friends,” which will reunite Abrams with his “Alias” star Jennifer Garner.
The deal also boosts the early tenure of new Warner Bros. CEO Ann Sarnoff, who took over this summer, after Kevin Tsujihara stepped down in March. The Warner Bros. Pictures Group, includes Warner Bros. Pictures and New Line Cinema.
In 2018, Bad Robot formed a video game development division Bad Robot Games, in association with Tencent and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, and the companies will continue to work together on the creation of new large and indie consumer games for mobile, PC and console.
“It is a thrill for Katie, Brian (Weinstein) and me and the rest of our team at Bad Robot to call WarnerMedia our company’s new home. John Stankey has a powerful vision for the future of WarnerMedia and is committed to storytelling that connects people around the world. We are excited and gratified to be a part of this new chapter under his and Ann Sarnoff’s thoughtful leadership,” Abrams said. “I could go on for hours, and probably will, about the extraordinary Peter Roth and the entire Warner’s television group, with whom we’ve worked for over a decade, and I’ve wanted to collaborate with Toby Emmerich and his team for as long as I can remember. I am grateful for the chance to write, produce and direct work for this incredible company, and to help create films and series with a diverse and vast collection of inspiring storytellers. We can’t wait to get started.”
Though terms of the deal were not disclosed by WarnerMedia, Abrams is expected to make in the $500 million range. THR first reported that figure.