J.J. Abrams Officially Closes Sizable WarnerMedia Film, TV Partnership

Bad Robot, the production company he runs with his wife and co-CEO, Katie McGrath, will now have all of its divisions — including games and digital — under the same roof for the first time.

9/12/2019 7:50:00 PM

The WarnerMedia agreement, which multiple sources say is worth more in the line of $250 million as opposed to the previously reported $500 million estimate, marks the first time that J.J. Abrams has had both his film and TV deals under the same roof

Bad Robot, the production company he runs with his wife and co-CEO, Katie McGrath, will now have all of its divisions — including games and digital — under the same roof for the first time.

Abrams and his wife and Bad Robot co-CEO, Katie McGrath, have inked a new five-year, all-encompassing overall deal with WarnerMedia. The agreement — which multiple sources say is worth more in the line of $250 million as opposed to the previously reported $500 million estimate — marks the first time that Abrams has had both his film and TV deals under the same roof. The new pact, which runs through 2024 and is described as "exclusive," also for the first time includes video games and digital content. Abrams is expected to create original feature films for WarnerMedia.

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The formal announcement comes more than three months afterThe Hollywood Reporterbroke the newsthat WarnerMedia had won the sweepstakes for Abrams and Bad Robot's services following a nearly yearlong courting process that was shrouded in secrecy during which multiple suitors pursued the prolific producer.

Still to be determined is if Abrams will have the opportunity to pursue feature film directing jobs for studios other than Warner Bros. Pictures, though sources stress Abrams will honor pre-existing commitments to his former feature home Paramount and previously announced deals covering

Star Wars. Also unclear is if WarnerMedia landed an investment stake in Bad Robot, though multiple sources say that's a distinct possibility. Bad Robot's deal keeps Abrams at the studio he has called home since 2006. With the new contract, Abrams and company will continue to create and develop new projects for WarnerMedia and supervise other producers across film, TV and digital platforms. The deal will also continue to let Bad Robot sell to third-party suppliers — a detail said to be of the utmost importance to Abrams.

The months-long process of moving Bad Robot's feature film deal over from Viacom-owned Paramount Pictures began in June and was recently completed, which prompted the official announcement from the media behemoth. "It’s bittersweet to be leaving our longtime moviemaking home, Paramount Pictures," Abrams said in a statement to

THR. "It’s been an unforgettable ride. We are incredibly grateful to the studio team — past and present — especially the incomparable Jim Gianopulos and the super talented Liz Raposo. We still have a number of great stories to tell together, and for that, I feel exceedingly lucky.”

Sources say WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey made courting Bad Robot his top priority. In its decision to stay, Bad Robot turned down more lucrative offers from tech companies and were impressed with Stankey and his ability to deliver such a wide-ranging deal. The courting process saw Bad Robot pitch itself to companies such as Disney, Netflix and Apple as a larger consumer brand and seek, with traditional studios, a guaranteed number of releases per year. 

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"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," Stankey said. "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. I'd also like to recognize the leadership of Warner Bros. Television Group president and chief content officer Peter Roth, who has known J.J. and Katie for many years and developed opportunities that turned into a longstanding, mutually beneficial partnership, which will now flourish for many years into the future across the entire WarnerMedia and AT&T family."

Abrams and Bad Robot's pact officially has the prolific producer in the same financial vicinity as Greg Berlanti ($400 million from Warners), Ryan Murphy ($300 million from Netflix) and Shonda Rhimes ($100 million from Netflix). The biggest difference separating the Bad Robot deal from Berlanti's and Murphy's is the lack of a library backend to buy out. Warners, for example, bought out Berlanti's backend points on shows such as 

Arrow and The Flash. Still, while sources say the deal is valued at $250 million, it could reach the billions should Abrams successfully create an original feature film franchise. Similar to TV backend points, the WarnerMedia content agreement includes sizable financial incentives in Abrams-created feature films. That is said to have been a key point in the deal-making process.   

Abrams and Bad Robot were considered the biggest fish in the insanely competitive overall-deal waters. Multiple studios and streamers at least kicked the tires or engaged in a hypercompetitive effort to woo Abrams and McGrath on a possible rich pact for the company behind hits that include HBO's 

Read more: Hollywood Reporter »

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