Apple offered J.J. Abrams far more than WarnerMedia, but he said no

Sources say Apple was willing to pay more than $500 million for Abrams’ Bad Robot production company, which wound up taking less money to stay with WarnerMedia.

Lesley Goldberg for The Hollywood Reporter:

After a nearly year-long courting process that saw J.J. Abrams and his wife and Bad Robot partner Katie McGrath take meetings with tech giants and traditional studios, the duo ultimately opted to take less money than they could have earned to stay with WarnerMedia.

According to sources familiar with the deal, Bad Robot’s five-year pact announced Thursday is worth at least $250 million and possibly much more thanks to various financial incentives. It will see Abrams and company develop and produce new film, TV, video game and digital projects for WarnerMedia’s various divisions, which include Warner Bros., HBO and the upcoming HBO Max streaming service.

According to sources, the ability to sell product to other outlets — i.e. setting up Lisey’s Story, one of his three shows at Apple via Warner Bros. TV — was paramount to Bad Robot signing anywhere. It also is among the reasons why Bad Robot left millions of dollars on the table and walked away from what could have been a record-setting blockbuster deal with Apple.

MacDailyNews Take: Apple wanted exclusivity. Abrams wanted freedom. Abrams is betting on himself here and it’s a good bet he’ll make more with the way his Warner deal is constructed than a set figure, even $1 billion, to be only-Apple for several years.


  1. I’ve lost faith in JJA after what he did (or allowed to happen) to Star Wars. And, also to the Star Trek movie franchise (after 2009 reboot). His luster seems to be fading. I think Apple was lucky NOT to spend $500 million to get him. Spend it on 10 other rising talents instead.

    1. I was dragged to the first Star Wars reboot (the previous six didn’t do much for me, i.e., got off the train with Jar Jar, and never really jumped back on, so call me jaded), and after I saw how the reboot was just new names for the same old tropes could barely pay attention.

      OTOH, the the Trek reboots have been pretty lively within the overall rubric of the Trekverse IMO. What am I missing?

      1. The recent Star Trek movies were fine, and I really liked 2009 (first JJ). After that revival, the franchise was managed poorly; the 3rd “JJ timeline” movie lost money. And there is no planned 4th movie, just some rumors. That’s bringing an inactive franchise back to life, and then throwing it away.

  2. J.J. knew Apple would expect results and also didn’t want to make uplifting mostly G-rated fare (what filmmaker wants to limit his options?). Having said that he is decidedly a hack and has yet to deliver anything remotely akin to a masterpiece in the cinema and yet he is treated as a wunderkind. Apple dodged the mediocre Bad Robot bullet.

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