Judd Apatow has hammered a multi-year production film and TV pact across NBCUniversal including Universal Pictures and Universal Studio Group. The parties’ working relationship began with 2005’s $177 million-plus grossing comedy blockbuster The 40-Year-Old Virgin. Apatow’s movies have grossed close to $3 billion around the world, the studio’s most successful original comedies.
Apatow is currently in post-production on the Billy Eichner-starring, Nick Stoller-directed Bros, which he produced. The movie is the first major studio film to feature an all LGBTQ+ principal cast. The movie hits theaters on September 30.
On the TV side, the new deal will cover Apatow’s work for both internal and external networks, including NBCUniversal’s streaming service Peacock. Multiple projects are in development including Dystrophia, a co-production between UTV and A24, starring comedian Steve Way (Ramy) and co-written with Jonathan Braylock and Ramy Youssef. Youssef is also producing with Apatow through his Cairo Cowboy production company. The half-hour series, loosely inspired by Way’s life with muscular dystrophy, follows an irreverent young man navigating family, romance and the bureaucratic health-care system. The series plans to showcase disabled comedic talent in supporting roles, honoring Way’s work as an inclusivity advocate.
Apatow’s movies have launched burgeoning comedic talent into marquee stars, i.e., Steve Carell with 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up with Seth Rogen, and his productions Bridesmaids with Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy and Rose Byrne; and Superbad with Jonah Hill. Bridesmaids alone grossed $288.3M worldwide and earned two Oscar nominations for McCarthy as Best Supporting Actress and for Wiig and Annie Mumolo’s original screenplay.
The Apatow-directed movie The King of Staten Island starring Pete Davidson received critical acclaim and debuted on PVOD during the 2020 pandemic, becoming a cash cow for the studio. On the TV side, Apatow’s canon includes The Larry Sanders Show, the Emmy-winning The Ben Stiller Show, the cult hit Freaks and Geeks and the critically acclaimed Crashing and Love. Apatow won his most recent Emmy for the HBO Films documentary The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling, which he directed and produced.
“Judd has championed the industry’s most groundbreaking comedic voices for the past two decades and has inspired and guided an entire generation of filmmakers and creators,” said Chairman of Universal Filmed Entertainment Group, Donna Langley. “His unerring eye for talent and his mastery as a writer and filmmaker continue to command the attention of audiences worldwide, even as the entertainment landscape has undergone seismic changes over the course of his career. We are thrilled to continue our relationship with Judd with this new pact and can’t wait to share what he and his team create with our global audience.”
“We are eager to expand Judd’s longtime relationship with NBCUniversal by making his television home here at Universal Studio Group,” said Chairman of Universal Studio Group, Pearlena Igbokwe. “We, like most audiences, are fans of his unconventional characters and unparalleled brand of comedy. We look forward to giving him a creative environment to do what he does best – make us laugh.”
“For 18 years Universal Pictures has been an incredibly creative and supportive partner in my film career,” said Apatow. “It only took me 18 years to realize I should probably try to do that with the television studio, too. I am so excited to get started.”
Apatow’s next feature is the Netflix comedy The Bubble, which he directed, produced, and co-wrote with Pam Brady. The cast includes Karen Gillan, Keegan-Michael Key, Maria Bakalova, Leslie Mann, Iris Apatow, Pedro Pascal and David Duchovny. Pic follows a group of actors and actresses stuck inside a pandemic bubble at a hotel attempting to film a movie. Apatow is also co-directing with Michael Bonfiglio and producing the HBO Documentary Films two-part documentary George Carlin’s American Dream.
Apatow was represented in the deal by UTA, Mosaic and Ziffren Brittenham.
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