AT&T's WarnerMedia has reached a production deal with superstar director J.J. Abrams, locking in one of Hollywood's hottest filmmakers as it prepares to do battle with streaming services from Netflix and Walt Disney.
Abrams, whose film credits include recent versions of Star Wars and Star Trek, will create original TV shows, movies and games for the studio until the end of 2024, according to a statement Thursday. Financial terms weren't revealed.
The signing highlights the increasingly fierce competition for talent among Hollywood's biggest media companies, including newer players like Netflix and Amazon.com Inc. Last year, WarnerMedia signed Greg Berlanti, producer of shows like Riverdale and The Flash, with a contract topping US$300 million (NZ$468m).
The New York Times said in June that Abrams was likely to get a US$500m (NZ$781m) deal. But the contract was ultimately worth closer to US$250m (NZ$390m), the Hollywood Reporter said on Thursday.
The WarnerMedia pact builds on a TV relationship with Warner Bros. that began in 2006. But Abrams's production company, Bad Robot, will honour its existing obligations to Paramount Pictures.
Over the past couple years, Netflix has managed to cinch deals with top TV producers including Ryan Murphy and Shonda Rhimes. That's given leverage to big-name filmmakers and showrunners, especially as studios need more content than ever.
Hollywood's legacy companies are pushing into streaming to survive in an age when traditional pay-TV customers are cancelling service for cheaper online alternatives. WarnerMedia, Disney and Comcast Corp.'s NBCUniversal all offer or plan to offer paid streaming services. WarnerMedia revealed details about its upcoming service, HBO Max, in July.
Abrams has directed some of Hollywood's highest-profile films, including Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which took in US$2.07 billion (NZ$3.23bn) in worldwide ticket sales. His next Star Wars movie, The Rise of Skywalker, is due in New Zealand theatres on December 19.