WarnerMedia is in “final negotiations” to win a partnership with Star Wars director J.J. Abrams’ production company Bad Robot as part of a deal estimated to be worth $500 million, The Hollywood Reporter revealed Monday.
The overall deal is not yet finalized but will see Bad Robot, run by Abrams with wife and co-CEO Katie McGrath, create and develop new projects for WarnerMedia and supervise other producers across film, TV and digital platforms, including Warner Bros.’ coming SVOD service.
It is not yet known how many years the contract is worth, but sources tell THR Bad Robot is already in the process of shifting its feature film deal over from Viacom’s Paramount Pictures, where Bad Robot produced Cloverfield, Star Trek and its two sequels, and the past three Mission: Impossible installments.
For television, Bad Robot backed the Abrams-created Alias, ABC hit Lost, and Warner Bros. Television’s Fringe. Bad Robot also developed HBO’s Westworld and Hulu’s Castle Rock for WBTV.
Reported competitors included Universal Pictures owners Comcast, Sony Entertainment, Netflix, Amazon and Apple. Citing sources, THR reports WarnerMedia emerged as a frontrunner to strike a pact at least one month ago when it became apparent Bad Robot prioritized its future as part of a larger company that already offers film and television distribution.
WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey was determined to keep Abrams in-house and McGrath, a founding member of the Time’s Up movement, is said to have told Stankey the presence of former Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsuijihara was a “values” issue during a negotiations period that involved meetings around town. Tsujihara stepped down from that position in March after it was learned Tsujihara allegedly participated in a “pay for play” sexual relationship with actress Charlotte Kirk.
Abrams is said to have participated in repeat meetings with Stankey and WBTV Group president Peter Roth as high-profile showrunners and producers are in more demand than ever with Warners, Disney and Comcast all soon to launch their own streaming services in competition with Netflix, Amazon and Apple within the growing digital landscape.
In addition to already backing Sara Bareilles’ Little Voice and Contraband, Bad Robot has the forthcoming Lovecraft Country (with Jordan Peele’s Monkeypaw Productions), the Stephen King-inspired Lisey’s Story, James Corden’s The Wrong Mans, and Jennifer Garner’s My Glory Was I Had Such Friends — all for WBTV.
Abrams is now in the editing process on Disney’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker for Disney, out December 20.