WarnerMedia Expands Relationship with Steven Soderbergh With 3-Year Overall Deal for HBO Max and HBO

Deal Builds Upon Previously Announced HBO Max Original Soderbergh Film ‘Let Them All Talk’

Announced today from the stage at the WarnerMedia Television Critics Association (TCA) Day, legendary filmmaker Steven Soderbergh has signed a three-year deal to develop content for both HBO Max and HBO, which shall be exclusive in all forms of television and a first-look for features. Soderbergh’s first project with HBO Max is the previously announced feature Let Them All Talk starring Meryl Streep, Candice Bergen, Dianne Wiest, Lucas Hedges, and Gemma Chan, which tells the story of a celebrated author who takes a journey with some old friends to have some fun and heal old wounds. The film will launch on HBO Max in 2020. Soderbergh has been making films with Warner Bros. Pictures since 2001 and remains a long-time collaborator with HBO.

“This arrangement grew out of talks Michael Sugar and I were having with Sarah Aubrey during the negotiations for Let Them All Talk, and there were four things tractor-beaming me toward this deal: One, I have a history with both HBO and Warner Bros.; two, my definition of a good product, a good process, and a good working culture is shared by the WarnerMedia family; three, the wide range of potential outlets aligns with my range of interests, and four: I get to witness and participate in the building of something new at a very large scale. Oh, and there is a financial aspect, so that’s probably five,” said Steven Soderbergh.

“Steven is a groundbreaking filmmaker who not only tells unique, irresistible stories, but is also a master of so many genres,” said Sarah Aubrey, head of original content, HBO Max. “In many ways, he is the anti-algorithm constantly surprising, never predictable and his career is living proof that one gifted filmmaker can impact our culture again and again. I can’t wait for the projects that we’re working on together to premiere on HBO Max.”

From Behind the Candelabra, to The Knick and Mosaic, we know first-hand that Steven Soderbergh’s creative genius knows no bounds,” said Casey Bloys, President, HBO Programming.  “An indefatigable innovator, we couldn’t be more excited to continue our relationship with Steven and provide a home for his future projects.”

The deal was brokered by Michael Sugar of Sugar 23 and Jamie Feldman of LGNAFC (Lichter, Grossman, Nichols, Adler, Feldman & Clark).

Founder and General Manager of Funimation Entertainment Changes His Role to Board Chairman

For twenty-five years Gen Fukunaga has served as the president and general manager of Funimation Entertainment, the popular anime video streaming service he founded in 1994. It was announced on Friday, February 1st he will resign from the leadership role and will move over to serve in the new position as chairman of the company’s board of directors. In a publicly released statement, he wrote the following memo to the company’s employees:

Funimation Team,

As I announced at our All Hands today, I will be stepping into the position of Chairman of the Board at Funimation and transitioning my GM role within the next six months. We’ve initiated the search for a new GM, and once we have selected the new leader, I’ll work closely with them to ensure a smooth transition.
In the Chairman role, I will continue to have oversight of the business and will focus on managing relationships with our content partners – making sure we continue to have the right partnerships in place. I will also provide advisory services to the team, as needed.

This change has been on the horizon since Sony took a majority interest in the company in 2017. And now is the right time to begin the transition, when Funimation is truly hitting its stride. We’ve grown into a $130M+ business with a robust offering available in the US, Australia, New Zealand, the UK and Ireland, with plans to expand to more territories. FunimationNow is adding revenue streams and deepening our fan base, as well as exploring opportunities in original production. And, we’re seeing a major win with the exceptional box office performance of our feature film Dragon Ball Super: Broly. That said, we’re in great shape to continue building on our solid foundation and momentum.

As we work through this transition, I want to thank you for maintaining your focus in bringing extraordinary entertainment to our anime fans everywhere. I started Funimation with a vision to make anime as accessible as possible to fans across the world. Because of your passion, dedication and hard work, I believe the company is better equipped than ever to deliver on that vision, and I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve built together. I am grateful to all of you and look forward to our next chapter together.

— Gen [Fukunaga]

Late in 2018 the company had signed a business deal with Hulu to be the only other video streaming service within the United States to have priority access to stream newly released anime programming created, produced, and streamed by Funimation. The signed agreement goes into affect at the start of the new year.

Sony Pictures Television acquired a 95% share of Funimation in the summer of 2017, leaving Fukunaga with the remaining 5% ownership share. The transaction was agreed upon for $143 million, which proceeded with the termination of a partnership between Funimation and Crunchyroll, which is their most prominent competition in the United States for video streaming subscription services exclusively for anime content.

The company headquarters is located in Flower Mound, a city located between the Dallas and Fort Worth metro regions in north Texas.

Source: Variety (Feb. 1st, 2019 and July 31, 2017), Funimation Blog


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“The Twilight Zone” reboot set to premiere on CBS All Access starting April 1st

Actor and director Jordan Peele is going to introduce a new generation of viewers to the classic television anthology program The Twilight Zone with his reboot set to premiere with two brand new episodes on April 1st exclusively on CBS All Access. Peele will serve as the episodic host and executive producer of the new series. He will succeed taking over the dual role that was once fulfilled by the program’s original creator, Rod Serling, during the program’s original television run from 1959 to 1964 on CBS.

Celebrity actors who have already signed up to appear in the weekly episodes include: John Cho, Taissa Farmiga, Greg Kinnear, Kumail Nanjiani, Adam Scott, Steven Yeun, and numerous others.

After the first two episodes are released on April 1st, there will be one new episode released through the streaming service every Thursday beginning on April 11th.

As of January 30th, the original series can be streamed on Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video (limited amount of seasons available), CBS All Access (paywall), and quite frequently over the holiday weekends throughout the year on the SyFy channel in marathon / binge-watching form.

Sources: CBS News, Twitter, YouTube, and DailyMotion.


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