Netflix secures Game of Thrones creators in talent arms race

Weiss and Benioff’s €179m deal could take years to pay off for streaming service

David Benioff and DB Weiss attend the ‘Game Of Thrones’ season 8 premiere in New York City. Imagine what they could have earned if they wrote a decent final season. Photograph: Mike Coppola/FilmMagic

David Benioff and DB Weiss attend the ‘Game Of Thrones’ season 8 premiere in New York City. Imagine what they could have earned if they wrote a decent final season. Photograph: Mike Coppola/FilmMagic

 

Joining a roster already home to star name writer-producers Shonda Rhimes, Ryan Murphy and Jenji Kohan, Game of Thrones creators DB Weiss and David Benioff have signed an exclusive talent deal with Netflix. With Amazon and Disney also in the race for their services, their multi-year agreement with the streamer is reported to be worth $200 million (€179 million).

Imagine what that figure could have soared to had they written a decent final season to the fantasy series that made their name.

“Netflix has built something astounding and unprecedented, and we’re honoured they invited us to join them,” the duo said in a statement. The subscription video-on-demand company didn’t reveal any details about what exactly these “master storytellers” will be making for its platform, and indeed subscribers could be waiting some time, as Weiss and Benioff are already contracted to Disney’s Lucasfilm to develop a new Star Wars trilogy.

Media coverage of the deal this week duly focused as a result on what the pair would not be making – their controversial Confederate series about an America where slavery still exists has been wisely axed by HBO before making it to air.

The tie-up is evidence that Netflix is showing no sign of easing up on the creative talent splurges that have helped propagate an arms’ race for some of Hollywood’s top names. Grey’s Anatomy showrunner Rhimes was one of the first of the elite to sign to Netflix, defecting from Disney two years ago for an estimated $100 million.

Bridgerton, a Regency period London drama starring Julie Andrews (with Irish actor Nicola Coughlan among the cast), is the first Rhimes series for Netflix and will premiere in 2020, when it is expected to provide a fillip to Netflix’s subscriber growth rate.

The long lead times for high-end productions such as these are normal, but also not without risk. A lot can happen in the space of a few years, over which period Netflix’s financial commitments may weigh just that little bit heavier. By the time Weiss and Benioff reach their opening credits, there may have been a few twists in the streaming tale.

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