Deepening the investment of Hollywood agencies in content production, United Talent Agency has teamed with Valence Media and its Media Rights Capital subsidiary on a joint venture to be called Civic Center Media.
The new entity, in which UTA will hold an undisclosed minority stake, will develop, produce and finance premium TV series. Financial terms were not revealed, and the announcement of the venture said a search is under way for an executive to lead it.
The announcement of Civic Center noted that UTA is opting not to create an in-house production operation but rather partnering with an established outside company with 15 years of experience in TV and film. (Modi Wiczyk, co-CEO of Valence, knows agency turf well, having been a partner at Endeavor prior to founding MRC.)
Valence Media and MRC’s credits include House of Cards, Ozark, Counterpart, Ted and Baby Driver. Its co-financed major studio films include Peter Rabbit, Furious 7, 22 Jump Street and the second and third Hotel Transylvania installments. Its films have grossed $4.8 billion at the global box office, netting 11 Oscar nominations. TV projects distributed by HBO, Apple, Starz, Hulu, Amazon, Netflix and a range of broadcast and cable networks have earned 59 Emmy nominations.
Civic Center will not be exclusive to Valence, MRC and UTA but will work with clients of all agencies, and the partners will do likewise in their respective businesses, the announcement emphasized.
“As we looked at the landscape of potential partners and content models, our priority was to work with a studio that puts artists and creators first,” said UTA CEO Jeremy Zimmer. “MRC shares our ‘artist first’ mentality and our belief that the time has come for a new business model that offers more creative control and ownership opportunities to artists. They have one of the best track records in our industry and will bring superb infrastructure and resources to the projects we create. As new distribution platforms fundamentally change the economics of our business and tilt the balance of power towards creators, there is no better partner for us and our clients.”
Wiczyk and Asif Satchu, co-CEOs of Valence Media, pointed to a fruitful UTA relationship of a decade and a half. “UTA sees the opportunities both within and beyond the traditional studio system and prioritizes new business models that protect and advance artists,” they said in the announcement. “Even more, they have always had deep passion and an uncanny eye for identifying gifted talent and groundbreaking creators.”
The joint venture will offer the agency’s clients access to significant resources for development and production. Through more streamlined overhead and processes, Civic Center Media will be able to offer more attractive terms — both financially and creatively — to partners who bring their content projects to the studio. In particular, clients will benefit on the back end, where they stand to make the most money if their content is well-received by audiences.