According to sources, Abrams and his wife Katie McGrath wanted to be able to sell Bad Robot’s content to other outlets. Of course, Apple wanted the company to exclusively produce shows and movies that would only be made available on Apple TV+ and nowhere else. Ultimately, Abrams decided to stick with WarnerMedia, which offered far less than Apple.
Sources familiar with the deal say it is less about money and more about the larger opportunities that come with an established media giant like WarnerMedia. Abrams is said to have wanted a set number of guaranteed slots on Warner Bros.’ feature film release calendar, though it’s unclear if that was included in the new agreement. With Warners, Abrams has the ability to create new features that could see his new deal reach the billions if he’s able to create a successful franchise.
Now that Bad Robot remains under WarnerMedia, the company is able to create shows like “Lisey’s Story” and sell it out to other brands, including Apple. Abrams hopes to turn Bad Robot into a “consumer brand” in this way and get its content in front of as many people as possible, which would have been more difficult if it were locked behind the Apple TV+ exclusivity barrier.
Apple’s exclusivity deal (valued in the $500 million range), also would have restricted Abrams’ ability to work on outside projects under the Bad Robot umbrella for other studios, like his work on Star Trek for Paramount. Additionally, Bad Robot was concerned about Apple’s lack of a clear theatrical distribution model, which the company as of yet has not needed to dabble in.
There are a multitude of other reasons that appear to have ultimately convinced Abrams to remain at WarnerMedia. These include Apple’s lack of IP for him to adapt, his alleged disappointment in Apple’s March media event where it introduced Apple TV+, and a disagreement on the exact valuation of Bad Robot.
J.J. Abrams is still producing many shows on Apple TV+, including “Little Voice,” “My Glory Was I Had Such Friends,” and the adaptation of the Stephen King novel “Lisey’s Story.”