EXCLUSIVE: Netflix has made a multi-year first-look feature film deal with Sugar23, the company founded by Oscar-winning Spotlight producer and manager Michael Sugar. He and Sugar23’s Head of Production Ashley Zalta will make Netflix their creative home, with the streamer getting first crack at any feature film the company generates. Sugar separately has a first-look TV deal with Steve Golin’s Anonymous Content, where Sugar was a partner for many years.
The Netflix deal comes on the heels of finalizing a deal for the service to finance and release The Laundromat, the Steven Soderbergh-directed drama about the Panama Papers scandal that will star Gary Oldman, Meryl Streep, Antonio Banderas and David Schwimmer anchoring an ensemble cast. The Scott Z. Burns-script tells the sprawling tale of how the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca created hundreds of thousands of shell companies to help the wealthy avoid paying taxes, creating havoc in its deceptive wake. The scam was exposed by a consortium of journalists sent by an anonymous whistle blower the largest leak of data — 11 million records — in corporate and government history. It toppled top politicians and embarrassed many others. Sugar is producing with Lawrence Grey, Gregory Jacobs, Michael Sugar, Burns and Topic Studios. Douglas Urbanski is exec producer.
The Laundromat becomes the first film in the newly created first look deal from Netflix. Sugar previously worked with Netflix on the just-unveiled Cary Fukunaga-directed series Maniac that stars Jonah Hill, Emma Stone and Justin Theroux, The OA and 13 Reasons Why. Other film projects Sugar has percolating at Netflix include Tell Me Everything, and Hummingbird Salamander.
“Michael makes smart, bold choices and Netflix has already benefited from that on the series side,” said Scott Stuber, head of Netflix’s film group in confirming the deal for Deadline. “His depth of relationships and eye for talent are unparalleled. We couldn’t be more excited to be working together as we expand our film slate.”
Sugar called Netflix “the perfect partner for Sugar23 because they have demonstrated a willingness to take chances, and our company places tremendous value on creating bold content. Ashley and I have had an extremely fulfilling experience with Netflix in the past, and I am confident that the sky is the limit for what we can accomplish with this new partnership. I could not be more excited to make daring, thought-provoking, zeitgeist-defining films with them.”
Netflix has been aggressive in lining up feature talent in strategic overall deals. That includes tent pole producer Ian Bryce, War for the Planet of the Apes and the next Batman director Matt Reeves and his 6th & Idaho banner, and Screen Arcade partners Eric Newman and Bryan Unkeless, who produced Bright and the upcoming sequel.
Sugar started his new venture with a combination of projects, and a management roster that includes Soderbergh, Richard Linklater, Fukunaga, Marc Webb, Patty Jenkins, George Stroumboulopoulos and Robin Wright. On the project side, production has just begun on the David Gordon Green-directed Apple series Dickinson, which stars Hailee Steinfeld and Jane Krakowski, and production wrapped on the Jenkins-directed TNT series One Day She’ll Darken, with Chris Pine starring. Sugar was exec producer on Soderbergh’s Cinemax drama series The Knick.
Sugar23’s deal was brokered by attorney David Fox.