Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff & Dan Weiss have signed an exclusive, long-term deal with Netflix.
The deal sees Netflix prising the pair away from their decade-long association with HBO, where they have produced all eight seasons of Game of Thrones. In the process, the move cements, if it were needed, the streamer place at the very top table of TV production.
In fact, fellow streamer Amazon can reasonably join them at that table too. While numerous studios and broadcasters, including HBO, have been courting the pair for their services since their Game of Thrones contract ended, by the final round of negotiations only Netflix, Amazon and Disney were left in the running.
Netflix hasn't released details on the deal, but given that the pair have just completed probably the most successful TV series in history, and similar recent deals between Netflix and showrunners like Grey's Anatomy's Shonda Rhimes and Glee's Ryan Murphy have been in the $100 million (Dh367m) range, that seems like a likely starting point.
Netflix's payment structure has been causing some controversy among industry figures of late. Like with actors and directors, the up front payments they've been making to producers and showrunners dwarf those usually made by traditional broadcasters and studios, who give a smaller advance and a share of profits. Netflix, which isn't reliant on box office, viewing figures or advertising income, instead offers huge one-off upfront payments, making them tough competition when it comes to bidding wars, but also leaving them open to paying huge sums for a dud.
Netflix's Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos commented: “We are thrilled to welcome master storytellers David Benioff and Dan Weiss to Netflix. They are a creative force and have delighted audiences worldwide with their epic storytelling. We can’t wait to see what their imaginations will bring to our members.”
Benioff and Weiss added in a statement: “We’ve had a beautiful run with HBO for more than a decade and we’re grateful to everyone there for always making us feel at home. Over the past few months we’ve spent many hours talking to Ted Sarandos. We remember the same shots from the same ‘80s movies; we love the same books; we’re excited about the same storytelling possibilities. Netflix has built something astounding and unprecedented, and we’re honoured they invited us to join them.”
Understandably, with the ink barely dry on the contract, there's no hint yet of what we might expect to see first from the pair, though it's a safe bet it won't be their planned alternative history Confederate.
The story, in which the South had won the US civil war, attracted criticism when it was mooted at HBO over the idea of two white men making a show with a slavery narrative. The Netflix deal seems to leave that idea free to slowly be forgotten at HBO.
The pair will still carry out a number of projects they had already signed up to since Game of Thrones ended, including creating, writing and producing one of the next Star Wars trilogies and adapting the prison break tale Dirty White Boys for Fox/Disney.