J.J. Abrams may have originated the idea of the complex, red-herring filled mystery box, but there’s nothing puzzling about the writer/director/producer’s latest story: the man is trying to get paid. Variety reports that Abrams is currently on the hunt for a highly ambitious, astronomically prolific overall deal, with several studios currently courting the filmmaker. The deal would reportedly not only guarantee a number of slots on a studio’s movie slate, but also cover areas like TV series, music, digital content and theme parks.
According to the report, Abrams could be hoping to net as high as half a billion dollars overall.
There’s a few bugaboos involved in the meetings—which have apparently been going on since late summer—most of them favorable to Abrams. Current media overlord Disney is apparently at the top of the list, thanks to the director’s success bringing STAR WARS back into the pop culture consciousness with 2015’s THE FORCE AWAKENS; Abrams is currently filming the still-untitled trilogy-capper EPISODE IX for the studio. But Universal has just as much a personal tie to the director thanks to its relationship with Steven Spielberg—the studio owns a minority stake in Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment—a mentor and friend of Abrams. The deal has reportedly come down to these two media mega-giants—both of which have the mega bucks and theme park properties that Abrams wants—unless a streaming service like Netflix swoops in with several dump trucks filled with money driven by the ‘Stranger Things’ kids like it did with Ryan Murphy and Shonda Rhimes.
Abrams is certainly an interesting case, arguably one of the most recognizable and successful faces in Hollywood to never create a tentpole franchise of his own. (unless you count Cloverfield, which JJ Abrams is working on making a film-per-year franchise). His small-screen ventures have led to buzzy series back when TV wasn’t the place to be (‘Alias’), iconic tentpole mystery series (‘LOST’), and modern-day twisty-turvy watercooler mysteries (‘Westworld’). But up on the big-screen Abrams is more adept at retooling franchises by tiptoeing the line between modernity and nostalgia, as he did with STAR WARS and the Chris Pine-scented STAR TREK films.