“We don’t want to produce, that’s not our goal,” says Chris Rice, co-president of Endeavor Content. The content division of talent agency WME-IMG does, however, want to disrupt the mechanics behind production as well as find business where it historically does not exist.
Rice oversees the company’s global TV and film team with co-president Graham Taylor. It is on the small screen that Endeavor Content has been making the most recent headlines, with a number of high-profile deals for series including Tom Hiddleston and Hugh Laurie’s The Night Manager and Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Sandra Oh-fronted Killing Eve.
“Our entire business is built around providing infrastructure and services—whether that’s support, sales, financing or business affairs—to some of the world’s most fantastic producers, to offer them whatever they need to operate their business in the most effective way,” says Rice. “But we are not producers.”
Endeavor Content does this in a number of different ways. For instance, the company acts as a North American sales partner for a number of high-end British drama businesses, helping to sell big-budget series such as Neal Street Productions and Vertigo Films’ epic fantasy thriller Britannia to Amazon in the U.S. and Jane Campion’s Elisabeth Moss-fronted Top of the Lake to SundanceTV. It is currently working on a deal for Bad Wolf’s His Dark Materials adaptation, which is thought to have interested Apple.
It also acts as a traditional international TV distribution business, largely based on its own IMG distribution operation with 400 sales executives based in 25 countries selling to linear and digital broadcasters around the world. So far they’ve notched shows such as Beau Willimon’s Hulu/Channel 4 space drama The First, which was reportedly budgeted at around $8 million per episode, and The Ink Factory’s next John le Carré adaptation The Little Drummer Girl, directed by Park Chan-wook and starring Florence Pugh and Alexander Skarsgård.
“We want to apply a little bit of an agent’s mindset to the business of sales and financing, which was traditionally a studio or distributor-based business.”
Finally, it provides basic business infrastructure and support to companies such as Chernin Entertainment, producers of Apple’s forthcoming futuristic Steven Knight drama See and others. Rice said that signing a slew of new clients, with names such as Friday Night Lights creator Peter Berg and former HBO programming chief Michael Lombardo’s new venture, is a key goal.
Endeavor Content and its rivals, including CAA, have faced claims of conflicts of interest as a result of their aggressive moves into the programming world. Rice is aware of this and hopes that a transparent and clear approach, as well as working with external parties if conflict arises, will benefit rather than hurt its clients.
“We’re always leaning towards projects that are talent-driven, whether that’s the creator, the director, an actor or all of those,” he says. “The overarching goal of Endeavor Content on the TV side has been to try and connect these artists, creators, producers, IP owners with audiences in the most effective way.”