Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment has signed a first-look feature deal with Warner Bros., which will distribute its films worldwide. The move comes at the tail-end of the company’s previous three-year deal with Annapurna Pictures.
Variety reported that Plan B’s deal with Warners represents a doubling-down of the company’s vision to produce substantive, theatrical films from top filmmakers. But producing films for Warner Bros.’ corporate sibling HBO Max might not be out of the question.
Though it’s best known for awards films released by traditional distributors like the Best Picture winning “12 Years a Slave,” the company has produced several movies for Netflix, including Bong Joon Ho’s “Okja” and its most recently released film, David Michôd’s “The King,” which got a limited release in the fall before it dropped on the service in November.
When striking its first overall TV deal in January, Plan B choose a streamer, Amazon. Barry Jenkins’ “The Underground Railroad,” and graphic novel adaptation “Paper Girls” are among the series in the pipeline for Prime Video.
Representatives for Plan B and Warner Bros. didn’t immediately offer answers to questions about whether Plan B would produce movies for HBO Max. But the streamer’s strategy includes offering both library theatrical titles as well as films produced just for the service.
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The deal comes as WarnerMedia got a new boss this month in CEO Jason Kilar, the founding CEO of Hulu and an Amazon veteran. His deep experience in the streaming space shows just how crucial HBO Max is to the company. And as segment-leader Netflix has shown, prestige titles, just like those produced by Plan B, are a key factor in building a winning streaming service.
WarnerMedia has already created a unified Warner Bros.-HBO Max label, Warner Max, which is set to produce eight to 10 films annually for the streamer, with the company describing its place in the world this way: creating “a new pipeline for filmmakers looking to make a particular type of film or connect with a specific audience that would be best reached in the streaming environment.”
The deal brings Plan B back to the studio where it launched in 2002. Among the projects that came out of that relationship was the 2007 Best Picture winner “The Departed.” From 2005 to 2013, it had a deal with Paramount, which distributed Ava DuVernay’s “Selma.”
In 2017 it inked a deal with Annapurna, which handled marketing and distribution of such films as “If Beale Street Could Talk” and “Vice,” released the following year. It was by far the highest-profile deal for Megan Ellison’s company, which last year resolved more than $200 million in debt amid financial turmoil. The pair most recently co-produced Miranda July’s “Kajillionaire,” which was acquired by Universal’s Focus Features after its Sundance premiere.
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