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Russo brothers gain creative control of MGM film library - developing The Rats of Nimh, potential for Poltergeist

By Brian Silliman
Joe and Anthony Russo (Credit: Gabe Ginsberg/WireImage)

Joe and Anthony Russo, the directors who made half of the heroes in the MCU blow away in the wind with a single snap, are now in creative control of one of the biggest film libraries there is.

Deadline reports that the Avengers: Endgame directors have made what they call "an inventive deal" through their AGBO Films banner, which makes them the "spiritual creative architects of iconic properties in the MGM library." The deal is non-exclusive, and would include the brothers co-developing, co-producing, and co-financing all kinds of upcoming films.

One of the biggest parts of this deal is that the brothers will "creatively steer the refurbishment of the classic library titles," according to Deadline. These titles include a remake of The Thomas Crown Affair (with Michael B. Jordan attached to star), which may be directed by the Russos personally. Writer Michael Carnahan (World War Z) has been tapped to work on the latest draft of the screenplay.

Why should genre fans be excited? A live-action/animation hybrid film based on The Rats of NIMH is in the works, for one. Based on the classic series of books by Robert C. O'Brien (and his daughter, Leslie Conly), this tale of intelligent rats (thanks to scientific experimentation) was adapted into animated form by Don Bluth for 1982's The Secret of NIMH. The new adaptation will be directed by James Madigan, with AGBO overseeing things.

Also exciting are the other films the MGM catalog includes, first and foremost being the horror classic Poltergeist. Deadline speculates about this title specifically, noting that the deal is "fueled by the allure" of its potential remake, along with other classics like The Pink Panther and It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World. Though nothing has been announced (or talked about officially) in any way, the point is that the Russos now have the potential to do something with the Poltergeist property if they so desire, be it directing, producing, or just shepherding it along.

AGBO Films, it should be noted, is led by the Brothers Russo, but has other members: Todd Makurath and Mike Larocca run the company, with longtime MCU scribes Christopher Markus and Steven McFeely (Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame, Captain America: Civil War, Captain America: The Winter Soldier) serving as co-presidents of story.

Chris Brearton, MGM's chief operating officer, said in a statement, "MGM is focused on partnering with Hollywood’s premiere talent to bring amazing stories to life. Our partnership with AGBO demonstrates MGM’s focus on creating alliances with today’s most innovative and premiere storytellers." He went on to praise the Russos, saying, "Joe and Anthony’s track record speaks for itself and we look forward to working with their team to bring new and exciting projects to life on the big and small screens.”

“This deal reflects the fundamental tenets upon which AGBO was built: a storytelling-driven studio designed to develop and produce a complex array of narrative in an ever-evolving landscape," said Joe Russo, adding, "Artist ownership is primary to our agenda, and we’ll be serving as partners on every film. It’s also an amazing opportunity for AGBO to work with MGM, which owns one of the greatest libraries in the world.”

Before all of that, however, we'll have to see how the Russos get out of one of the greatest "how the hell do they get out of this one" corners in cinema history. That will be when Avengers: Endgame dusts its way into cinemas on April 26.