Jerry Bruckheimer Television is ending its 15-year relationship with Warner Bros. Television. The company’s overall deal at the studio was up at the end of May and was not renewed.
“They were very gracious, we have a great relationship and will continue to have a great relationship with Warner Bros. TV hopefully for a long, long time as we have a lot of projects together, but this gives us more freedom, that’s all,” Bruckheimer told Deadline.
What will JBTV do next? “We are looking at every option, we are talking to a lot of people, only time will tell,” Bruckheimer said. JBTV is exploring going the indie route, holding conversations with potential investors. But it is also possible that JBTV would end up under an overall deal at another studio. “We are not excluding anything right now,” Bruckheimer said, noting that the company’s TV plan will be formulated in the next 2-3 months. The entire executive team of JBTV, led by president Jonathan Littman, is staying put during the transition, Bruckheimer said.
He and his team began contemplating the company’s future 5-6 months ago. Becoming independent would give the company flexibility. “There are so many buyers looking for quality content,” Bruckheimer said. But in the era of increased push for program ownership by the networks, it is not easy for indie companies, which have to be prepared to give up half of their shows in order to sell a project or get a series on the air. That is something WBTV, an independent studio, encountered this season with the JBTV-produced Training Day. The pilot went to series for midseason at CBS, which took about a 50% stake in it.
Training Day is one of two series JBTV has with WBTV, along with Lucifer at Fox. The two companies also have a number of projects in development together. Going forward, their relationship will be on a non-exclusive basis.
Bruckheimer did not sound worried about the challenges faced by independent production companies these days, noting the big opportunities of international distribution and production. The indies usually are able to retain international rights that are becoming increasingly lucrative. “The international market now is strong, there are a lot of ways to produce content for a lot of different people,” he said.
The news of JBTV’s exit from WBTV, first reported by Variety, is surprising because the company is doing it without a plan in place. Fellow top producer Mark Gordon set up his 50-50 venture with Entertainment One a few months before his last overall deal at ABC Studios was to expire.
JBTV had one of the richest deals in television, and it was unlikely that the pact would’ve be renewed at the same terms, so the company may have opted to seek opportunities elsewhere.
“We had discussions” with WBTV about extending the deal, Bruckheimer said, indicating that there was an effort to do another pact. Ultimately, “there were so many other opportunities,” he said.