It doesn’t seem that any suitor is out of the game yet but there has been persistent chatter over the past few weeks that WarnerMedia and Apple may have emerged as frontrunners to land J.J. Abrams and his Bad Robot production company.
Over the past couple of months, Abrams and his team had engaged with the two companies, as well as Comcast/NBCUniversal and Sony, with talks slowing down after Abrams, along with 7,000 other WGA members, in April fired his agents at CAA in all areas except directing.
While the situation remains fluid and reps for Abrams denied comment, word is that WarnerMedia on the traditional media side and Apple on the tech side have emerged as strong possibilities, with some indications that WarnerMedia may have the edge over the Silicon Valley giant. However, as far as we know, none of four studios vying for Abrams’ services has been informed that they are no longer in contention.
Abrams, of course, has the history at WarnerMedia as Bad Robot had been based at Warner Bros. TV for many years, delivering a string of series. Of the company’s current shows, three are at WarnerMedia’s HBO, Westworld, Lovecraft and Demimonde, the first series Abrams has solely created since Alias, with the premium network also developing Bad Robot’s They Both Die At the End. The company also has three series at Apple, which also has been aggressively pursuing the multi-hyphenated: the Stephen King adaptation Lisey’s Story, starring Julianne Moore; Sara Bareilles’ Little Voice; and My Glory Was I Had Such Friends, toplined by Jennifer Garner.
Besides having the advantage of a long-time home, WarnerMedia has been flexing muscles as the company is getting a cash infusion from the AT&T acquisition to be able to accommodate Abrams’ ask, that could potentially reach $500 million. The media conglom also has grand plans for its upcoming streaming platform which it hopes would factor in Abrams and his output.
Meanwhile, Apple reflects Abrams’ love of technology as he has been striving to expand the horizons and push the boundaries of entertainment content. Sony also had been playing up that element in its pitch, being a technology-first company with its vast electronics operations.
Abrams is the marquee talent on the overall deal market right now, joined recently by the Game Of Thrones creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss.