Yesterday, news broke that JJ Abrams and his production company, Bad Robot, signed a massive nine-figure deal with WarnerMedia for exclusive rights to release films, TV series, video games, and other media through the studio. At the time, the deal was said to be worth more than $500 million. However, today brings news that the actual number might be lower than that, but it also appears that Abrams wasn’t just looking for the highest bidder, which is why he didn’t end up with Apple.
According to THR, the deal with WarnerMedia is said to bring Abrams and Bad Robot a base rate of around $250 million over five years, with performance bonuses that could see that number multiply. So, yeah, still a ton of money. But the report says that Abrams was actually offered well above that number by Apple, but the filmmaker ended up turning down the tech company due to a couple of major issues.
Apparently, Apple approached Abrams with a deal that is said to be in the ballpark of $750 million and $1 billion (yes, with a ‘B’) over that time if he’d sign exclusively with Apple. Unfortunately, there were two major sticking points with this deal. The report says that one of the hurdles is that the deal would have been exclusive and that Abrams would only have the option to release films, TV series, and other projects through Apple, meaning he wouldn’t have the opportunity to jump on a “Star Wars” film or a superhero project unless it was released by the tech company.
The second reason, and what actually might be the biggest, is that Apple doesn’t own any real IP. If you look at Abrams’ filmography, and how Bad Robot makes most of its money, there are a lot of films based on well-known IP, such as “Star Wars,” “Star Trek,” and “Mission: Impossible,” to name a few. That means, Abrams would need an exclusive partner with a deep library of IP, which ain’t Apple.
The report says that what attracted Abrams to WarnerMedia had a lot to do with the deep bend of IP that is at the studio’s disposal. This means that Bad Robot can stay exclusive to the studio but also have the option of churning out some major blockbuster films based on recognizable franchises, if it so pleases. And let’s be real, Abrams needs that.
Now, when you mention WarnerMedia and franchises, there are going to be people that jump to conclusions and assume this means DC superheroes. If you see headlines about “rumors” of Abrams taking on the new “Man of Steel” or “Green Lantern,” consider it wishful thinking. We all know how comic book film “rumors” begin — as hearsay and speculation, mostly. Until you hear it from Abrams or WarnerMedia, take it with a grain of salt.
So, for those thinking that Abrams chose the major payday for WarnerMedia and that’s why he didn’t end up with Disney, for example, it appears that the money was just one of the deciding factors, and the other issues seem to point at Apple having a major IP deficiency. We’ll have to see how the tech company moves ahead knowing that it can’t just throw $1 billion out there and expect to attract everyone.