JJ Abrams Reportedly Turned Down $500 Million Deal With Apple Because Apple Can’t Share

Director, producer and writer J.J. Abrams attends the premiere of Walt Disney Pictures and Lucasfilm’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” at the Dolby Theatre on December 14, 2015 in Hollywood, California.Photo: Ethan Miller (Getty)

Well, well, well, isn’t this Apple rumor just delicious.

This week, it was announced that J.J. Abrams had, with his wife and business partner Katie McGrath, inked a multi-year agreement with WarnerMedia to develop exclusive content, games, and other media through their production company Bad Robot in a deal that is believed to be worth around $250 million. But the Hollywood Reporter reported Friday that numerous companies had a horse in this race, including Apple.


According to the report, Abrams and McGrath met with Apple executives about a potential partnership and were offered a deal in the ballpark of $500 million. But that handsome bid reportedly fell through over exclusivity restrictions, namely that Apple wanted to keep the visionary director all to itself. Imagine, for a moment, telling Abrams that he could no longer do Star Wars. Put another way, Apple didn’t want to share its toys.

But evidently, the concerns didn’t stop there. Unlike WarnerMedia, which baited Bad Robot with opportunities that include television, games, theatrical releases, and other digital media, Apple couldn’t offer the same assurances about theatrical distribution. The Hollywood Reporter also cited speculative rumors that Bad Robot was unimpressed with Apple’s March event at which it teased out its new services—including Apple TV+ and Arcade—though the report said sources close to both parties “categorically deny that his decision to sign with WarnerMedia had anything to do with that presentation.”


Apple didn’t immediately return a request for comment about the report.

Bad Robot’s newly signed deal with WarnerMedia builds on a yearslong existing relationship the company has with Abrams. In a statement this week, Abrams said he was “grateful for the chance to write, produce and direct work for this incredible company, and to help create films and series with a diverse and vast collection of inspiring storytellers. We can’t wait to get started.”


Apple, meanwhile, is selling us… well, whatever this turns out to be.

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