EXCLUSIVE: MGM has made an inventive deal with AGBO Films partners Joe & Anthony Russo that will see the Avengers: Endgame helmers essentially become the spiritual creative architects of some of the iconic properties in the MGM library. They’ve made a multi-film non-exclusive creative partnership to co-develop, co-produce and co-finance a slate of projects.
The deal can extend to projects originated by AGBO, but the driving force behind this is that they will creatively steer the refurbishment of the classic library titles. The first film projects to be produced through the partnership includes a re-imagining of The Thomas Crown Affair, which long has had Michael B. Jordan attached to star and produce through his Outlier Society banner. That one could end up directed by the brothers, who love the Steve McQueen-Faye Dunaway original. The next crack at the script will be taken by Matthew Michael Carnahan, the writer whose credits include Deepwater Horizon, World War Z and The Kingdom. He just wrote and directed Mosul for AGBO aboard to take the next crack at the screenplay.
AGBO will also develop James Madigan’s hybrid live action/animation version of The Rats Of Nimh, based on the Newbery Medal-winning series by author Robert C. O’Brien; there is also the original film Hacienda, first scripted by Aaron Berg (Section 6), and then Krysty Wilson-Cairns (1917, Last Night In Soho).
As part of the deal, MGM and AGBO have created a joint development fund for new film projects.
I had heard this arrangement was coming, and that it was fueled by the allure of potential remakes of many MGM titles that with the right creative vision, there is branded IP ripe for the picking.
Led by the Russos, AGBO is run by Todd Makurath, Mike Larocca and Co-Presidents of Story, Christopher Markus and Steven McFeely. Latter duo scripted the last four films directed by the Russos. Those were the Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame, and the last two Captain America installments The Winter Soldier and Civil War.
Essentially, MGM now has the directors and writers of films that even before the Avengers: Endgame sequel have done $4 billion in global gross, Markus & McFeely will lead development and work directly with MGM’s Motion Pictures Group president Jonathan Glickman.
“MGM is focused on partnering with Hollywood’s premiere talent to bring amazing stories to life. Our partnership with AGBO demonstrates MGM’s focus on creating alliances with today’s most innovative and premiere storytellers,” said Chris Brearton, MGM’s Chief Operating Officer. “Joe and Anthony’s track record speaks for itself and we look forward to working with their team to bring new and exciting projects to life on the big and small screens.”
Said Joe Russo: “This deal reflects the fundamental tenets upon which AGBO was built: a storytelling driven studio designed to develop and produce a complex array of narrative in an ever-evolving landscape. Artist ownership is primary to our agenda, and we’ll be serving as partners on every film. It’s also an amazing opportunity for AGBO to work with MGM, which owns one of the greatest libraries in the world.”
AGBO is currently in post-production on the mystery thriller 21 Bridges, which stars Chadwick Boseman, Sienna Miller, and Taylor Kitsch; also in post is Carnahan’s Mosul, which brings to life Luke Mogelson’s series of stories in the New Yorker about an elite police unit who fight to save Iraq’s second largest city from thousands of ISIS militants. There is also the Chris Hemsworth-starrer kidnap drama Dhaka, an action film produced with Netflix, with Hemsworth tasked with liberating a kidnapped Indian boy who is being hidden in Dhaka; and the horror film Relic, which stars Emily Mortimer, Robyn Nevin & Bella Heathcote. AGBO also produced Larry Charles’ Dangerous World of Comedy, which recently debuted on Netflix in February, and Deadly Class, which premiered in January on SyFy.
The Russos will follow The Avengers: Endgame by directing Cherry, an adaptation of the Nico Walker novel based on his life of being a PTSD-suffering opioid-addicted former soldier who becomes a bank robber in Cleveland. AGBO won an auction last year and paid $1 million for the screen rights to the book published by Knopf. Tom Holland will star.