One of the most popular standup comedians of the last two decades, Chris Rock, is returning to the stage for two new comedy specials at a new TV home. In an extremely competitive situation, the specials have landed at Netflix in a deal that sources peg to be in the neighborhood of $40 million, a record for comedy specials.
Rock is coming off a 20-year relationship with HBO where he has done five standup specials, from the 1994 Big Ass Jokes to the 2008 Kill the Messenger. I hear HBO made a substantial play for Rock’s new specials, bidding along all major streaming platforms, Netflix, Amazon and Hulu. Standup comedy has become a big draw on SVOD platforms over the last few years, explaining the big appetite, aggressive bidding and huge price tag for new material from one of the superstars in the genre. Still, the size of the winning bid for the specials is staggering.
By aggressively buying projects, the streaming networks have been quickly gaining ground in the standup special field, taking market share away from the once-dominant players, HBO, Comedy Central and Showtime.
In his return to stand-up after an eight-year absence, Rock will tape two new specials that will debut on Netflix around the world. The first show will tape in 2017, following a new world tour being planned now.
“Chris Rock is a beloved actor and director, and his remarkable stand-up makes him comic royalty. There is no one like him, and Netflix offers the global platform and creative freedom that will serve as a perfect home for someone with his incredible talent,” said Ted Sarandos, Netflix Chief Content Officer.
Added Lisa Nishimura, Netflix’s VP of Original Documentary and Comedy, “Increasingly, Netflix is becoming the preeminent destination for stand-up comedy, partnering with top-tier talent across a wide variety of styles and humor, enabling them to bring their fresh, distinctive and hilarious voices to our members in 190 countries around the world. Coming on the heels of our first Emmy win in the category (Patton Oswalt: Talking for Clapping), now is the perfect time to take things to the next level with Chris Rock.”
Netflix rapidly growing stand-up comedy specials portfolio includes the 2016 Emmy-nominated shows from John Mulaney and Patton Oswalt, and recent specials from Cedric the Entertainer, Iliza Shlesinger, Jeff Foxworthy and Larry the Cable Guy, Russell Peters, Ali Wong, Mike Epps, Aziz Ansari, Anjelah Johnson, Bill Burr, Chris Tucker, Demetri Martin, Chelsea Handler, Bo Burnham, Jim Jefferies, David Cross and upcoming specials from Joe Rogan, Dana Carvey, Michael Che, Gabriel Iglesias, Reggie Watts and Colin Quinn (directed by Jerry Seinfeld).
“I’m very excited to be working with Ted and Lisa and all the good people at Netflix. I can’t wait to get back on stage” said Rock.
Rock has won four Emmy Awards for his HBO standup specials and his Chris Rock Show on the pay cable network.
In the past year, Rock hosted the 88th Annual Academy Awards, directed HBO’s comedy special Amy Schumer: Live at the Apollo, guest-starred on the hit Fox series Empire and made an appearance in the Netflix holiday special “A Very Murray Christmas,” starring Bill Murray. He received two Emmy nominations this year, for Outstanding Director for a Variety Special for Amy Schumer: Live at the Apollo, and Outstanding Special Class Program for the 88th Annual Academy Awards.
Rock is repped by ICM Partners and Morris Yorn.