It’s official: J.J. Abrams is setting up shop at WarnerMedia. Abrams kicked off a firestorm of suitors this year as his long-running production deal with Paramount Pictures was up for renegotiation, and every studio in town wanted to lock down a big agreement with the Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker filmmaker and his Bad Robot production company. We learned in June that Bad Robot was close to landing its deal at WarnerMedia, and confirmation came down today that Abrams will indeed be setting up shop at the Warner Bros. studio for a reported $250 million or so.
WarnerMedia beat out competitors like Netflix, Apple, and Sony Pictures to sign Bad Robot to a strategic relationship to create original projects for television, theatrical motion pictures, gaming, and digital platforms that runs through 2024. The announcement was made by Abrams, Bad Robot co-CEO Katie McGrath, and AT&T President & Chief Operating Officer and CEO of Warner Media John Stankey.
“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. 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.”
Abrams began his relationship with Warner Bros. in 2006 when Bad Robot entered into an exclusive television agreement with Warner Bros. Television Group, and he currently has three new series already in the works at HBO including Demimonde, the first TV show he’s created whole cloth in a long while.
As part of the collaboration, Bad Robot will continue to develop and produce new television projects — including dramas and comedies, longform/event series, digital content and more — for all platforms, including premium/pay and basic cable networks, on-demand/streaming services, and the broadcast networks. These include WarnerMedia-affiliated networks and platforms such as HBO, HBO Max and more, as well as external outlets. 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. Under terms of the new agreement, Abrams and Bad Robot will now also develop original theatrical films for the divisions of the Warner Bros. Pictures Group, including Warner Bros. Pictures and New Line Cinema.
This isn’t an exclusive arrangement so Abrams is still free to make movies elsewhere (and the press release notes he’ll honor existing agreements with Paramount), but this coveted deal means Abrams will call WarnerMedia home. When Bad Robot was on the hunt for a new agreement, the rumors were that Abrams wanted something akin to Steven Spielberg’s deals in years past—including the opportunity to expand his projects into areas like theme parks. WarnerMedia makes a good fit, as Warner Bros. struck a lucrative agreement with Universal Studios theme parks for the wildly successful Wizarding World of Harry Potter attractions in both Hollywood and Orlando.
Abrams has never directed a movie for Warner Bros. before, so it’ll be interesting to see what kind of project they tackle together. No doubt WB would love to score Abrams’ first-ever superhero movie with their extensive DC Comics library, but would Abrams be so quick to make a comic book film after making two massive Star Wars movies in a row? His producorial efforts are far more diverse, and to date Super 8 is the only original movie he’s directed, so I’m really interested to see what becomes of this partnership.
Currently, however, Abrams is deep in post-production on Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker for Walt Disney Studios, which opens in December.