EXCLUSIVE: Netflix has invested in Black Mirror creators Charlie Brooker and Annabel Jones’ new production outfit Broke And Bones in a first-of-its-kind deal for the streamer in the UK, which could ultimately see it take full control of the company for around $100M, Deadline can reveal.
Sources said the agreement with five-time Emmy winners Brooker and Jones’ new venture has been 12 months in the making due to its unusual structure, and is a massive statement of intent about Netflix’s commitment to working with British creators. The UK is second only to the U.S. in feeding original content to Netflix’s 190M subscribers.
Quietly signed a number of weeks ago, Deadline understands that Netflix has the right to acquire Broke And Bones in chunks over a five-year period, giving the streamer exclusivity over the Brits’ new series and interactive projects. Although the deal could ultimately rise to nine figures, Netflix’s initial commitment is much lower.
The first indication that the long-rumored agreement had been finalized came last week when Netflix helped Broke And Bones announce the appointment of its new comedy chief Jon Petrie. Broke And Bones is understood to have made a number of other hires in recent weeks, including Bandersnatch producer Russell McLean, who will have a focus on creating interactive projects akin to the innovative 2018 choose-your-own-adventure drama.
Broke And Bones’ first project is in the works for Netflix and will be unveiled soon. It is unlikely to be new episodes of Black Mirror, however. Brooker and Jones created the franchise while they worked at Endemol Shine and the Banijay-backed production group still owns the rights to the anthology series. Three sources said that Netflix and Endemol Shine have held talks about transferring the brand, but an agreement is still thought to be some way off. In the meantime, there is nothing stopping Brooker and Jones bringing their distinctive style to other dystopian dramas, but they just won’t be badged as Black Mirror.
Netflix has signed overall deals with British creative talent before, like the agreement it struck with Peter Morgan last year for further series of The Crown, but Broke And Bones is its first UK investment. Deals similar in structure have been signed in the U.S., with notable Netflix acquisitions including book publishing house Millarworld in 2017, studio facility ABQ Studios in 2018, and children’s media brand StoryBots last year.
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has been extremely complimentary about the strength of the British industry and Netflix’s commitment to the market. “The UK has had such a long and strong storytelling expertise… there’s such a powerful and strong infrastructure that it’s the biggest place that Netflix develops content outside of the U.S,” he told a Royal Television Society event last year.
Deadlined revealed in January that Brooker and Jones had left their Endemol Shine company House Of Tomorrow, while we were also the first to report that they had set up Broke And Bones. As well as Petrie and McLean, the company has recruited Endemol Shine production executives Jo Kay and Holly Sait, who will serve as head of production for drama and comedy, and head of production for formatted comedy respectively. Sait’s hire is a sign that Brooker and Jones are intent on getting into unscripted content for Netflix.
They have made three seasons of Black Mirror for Netflix, as well as the 2018 special Bandersnatch, but the show started life on Channel 4 in 2011. Other shows created under their watch include Sky’s detective spoof series A Touch of Cloth and Brooker’s Wipe satire franchise for the BBC, which was revisited earlier this year for a coronavirus special, titled Charlie Brooker’s Antiviral Wipe. The one-off was Broke And Bones’ first commission. Other shows penned by Brooker include Big Brother zombie drama Dead Set, while he also co-created cult British comedy Nathan Barley with Four Lions director Chris Morris.