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J.J. Abrams and his production company Bad Robot Productions have signed a deal with AT&T-owned WarnerMedia, the company announced today. The deal is reportedly worth $250 million, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The partnership means that Bad Robot will produce original series and films for WarnerMedia and its various divisions, including HBO and Warner Bros. Pictures. It also marks the first time that Bad Robot’s video games and digital divisions will also operate under one roof.
It’s unclear if the deal limits Abrams to only directing and producing films and series for WarnerMedia properties, but his ongoing projects at Paramount Pictures (Bad Robot’s former feature home) and his Star Wars work are still continuing. Bad Robot will still be able to sell projects to third-party suppliers, the deal stipulates, but it’s likely these will be series or films that WarnerMedia passes on. Abrams’ Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the final film in the current Star Wars trilogy, is due out on December 20th.
While Abrams being a part of the WarnerMedia family means that people might see more directorial projects from him at Warner Bros., it’s also a big win on the streaming front. WarnerMedia is gearing up to launch its streaming competitor to Netflix and Hulu, called HBO Max. It’s reportedly going to rely heavily on prestige series from HBO (Abrams’ Bad Robot is currently one of the production companies behind Westworld), licensed series like Friends, and a slate of new originals.
Having Bad Robot and Abrams attached to new shows and streaming-exclusive films is critical to securing new subscribers and staying competitive as the streaming wars heat up. The Abrams deal is similar to Netflix signing overall deals with creators like Game of Thrones’ David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, American Horror Story’s Ryan Murphy, and Grey’s Anatomy’s Shonda Rhimes. Amazon, too, has signed expensive deals with showrunners, including Westworld’s Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy.
Both Abrams and Bad Robot have been among the most sought after names in Hollywood. Abrams was reportedly courting deals from Amazon, Apple, and Netflix alongside WarnerMedia just a few months ago, according to THR. Rumors suggested Abrams’ deal with WarnerMedia was going to come with a $500 million price tag attached. Although the new reported deal is about 50 percent less, it’s unclear if Abrams will secure additional revenue through his upcoming producing, writing, and directorial deals.
“[WarnerMedia CEO] John Stankey has a powerful vision for the future of WarnerMedia and is committed to storytelling that connects people around the world,” Abrams said in a press release. “We are excited and gratified to be a part of this new chapter under his and [Warner Bros. Pictures CEO] Ann Sarnoff’s thoughtful leadership.”
WarnerMedia and Bad Robot have been in business together to some degree since 2006, when Bad Robot first inked an overall TV deal with Warner Bros. The deal was renewed in 2012 and 2015. This new deal runs through 2024, at which point the race to secure Abrams may just pick up again.