Over the last decade or so, J.J. Abrams has become a key player in the world of entertainment, achieving the Tinseltown trifecta: writing, producing, and directing. And while Abrams is no small fish by any means, a new deal would turn him into an all-powerful industry deity in league with the man himself, the great Steven Spielberg.
Per Variety, Abrams (co-founder of the Bad Robot production company) is being courted by all of the major studios in what would essentially be "a lucrative megadeal" that would include the whole enchilada: movies, TV, theme parks, music, video games, etc. Early estimates place the eventual deal at half-a-billion dollars; that could buy a lot of lens flares.
Among those vying for his John Hancock on a contract are Disney, Warner Bros., Paramount, and Universal (Universal Pictures and SYFY WIRE are both owned by NBCUniversal). Variety even seems to indicate that digital studios like Netflix or Apple could throw their own hats into the heated ring.
One of the pre-requisites that Abrams is after is “put pictures,” a fancy entertainment industry phrase for a guaranteed number of films on a studio's schedule of upcoming releases. This kind of treatment for titans like Spielberg, whom Abrams worked for as a kid and now knows well. The former even served as a producer on the latter's Super 8, a passion project and love letter to Spielberg's '80s-era movies.
Indeed, Universal Pictures has an advantage due to its longtime collaboration with Spielberg, whose Amblin Entertainment offices are located on the studio's lot. The rationale is that Abrams would be swayed to Universal if it meant more collaboration with his childhood hero and mentor.
That being said, Abrams has deep ties to Disney and Paramount, too, thanks to his successful reboots of the Star Wars and Star Trek franchises. Paramount's also had him on their Misison: Impossible series since the third entry. Hell, even Warner can lay a bit of claim to him, as he produces Westworld on HBO and Castle Rock on Hulu, both of which are Warner Bros. produced or distributed properties.
What sets him apart from other moguls, however, is that he hasn’t birthed an evergreen franchise like Indiana Jones, Avatar, Terminator, and Star Wars.
Whomever scoops Abrams up in the end, one thing is for sure: the dude is a hot commodity. He's currently directing Star Wars: Episode IX, which is allegedly meant to get Lucasfilm back on track after the box office disappointment that was Solo.
He's also got the supernatural/war/horror/action thriller, Overlord, hitting theaters next weekend. Throw in adaptations of Portal and Half-Life, as well as an original TV show that he created (Demimonde) and a pinch of Cloverfield sequels, and Abrams shows no signs of slowing down and this "megadeal" will only increase his proficiency, influence, and power in Hollywood.
In short, are we witnessing the birth of a new Spielberg?