12:00pm PT by Bryn Sandberg
'Stranger Things' Producer Inks Massive Overall Deal With Netflix
After inking lucrative overall deals with Shonda Rhimes and Jenji Kohan in recent months, Netflix is entering into another exclusive pact with one of its creators.
The streaming giant has signed Stranger Things director-producer Shawn Levy and his production company 21 Laps Entertainment to what sources say is a four-year, seven-figure deal. Levy is said to have fielded multiple offers from various film and TV outfits before opting to focus on TV at the streamer.
Netflix and Levy’s production shingle first joined forces on the breakout sci-fi drama from the Duffer Brothers, which was recently renewed for a third season after earning 18 Emmy nominations and five wins. Levy was instrumental in bringing the series to the streaming service, and served as an executive producer on it alongside Iain Paterson and 21 Laps’ Dan Cohen. Earlier this year, the trio won the 2017 Norman Felton Award for outstanding producer of episodic television for a drama at the Producers Guild Awards.
While Levy, whose films have grossed more than $3 billion worldwide, is best known for directing comedies and family tentpoles, 21 Laps has put forth a varied slate of film and TV projects in recent years. Previous films include The Spectacular Now, Why Him, Fist Fight and last year's Oscar-nominated Arrival, while TV projects include Tim Allen's long-running ABC comedy Last Man Standing.
As a director, Levy has helmed all three installments of the Night at the Museum franchise, as well as Date Night, Real Steel, Cheaper by the Dozen, This Is Where I Leave You and The Pink Panther. He also is attached to direct Uncharted, Sony's live-action feature starring Tom Holland based on the PlayStation video game. Other upcoming 2018 releases from 21 Laps include Fox's Darkest Minds from director Jennifer Yuh Nelson; Netflix's Kodachrome starring Ed Harris, Elizabeth Olsen and Jason Sudeikis; and Lionsgate's Kin, starring James Franco, Zoe Kravitz, Jack Reynor and Dennis Quaid.
"I don’t know any other company that would have taken a chance on a show about kids and inter-dimensional monsters, created by young unknown twin brothers and produced by a movie director’s production company. Netflix did, and they bet big, and it’s been truly thrilling to take this wild ride with such exceptional partners," Levy said Wednesday in a statement. "My aspiration for 21 Laps has always been to create content that is eclectic, bold, humanist and surprising. As such, Netflix is the perfect home for us and our collaborators. My partners Dan Levine and Dan Cohen, along with president of television Josh Barry and the rest of our 21 Laps colleagues and I, can’t wait to craft and usher more singular shows into the world with this empowering platform and partner."
"Shawn and 21 Laps are courageous and adept storytellers who lean into risk both narratively and by nurturing great young talent," said Cindy Holland, Netflix vp original content. "They have an admirable track record for telling ambitious stories that have incredible heart and which resonate with audiences all over the world."
Additionally, Levy has tapped veteran TV producer Barry as president of 21 Laps Television. Until he left earlier this year, Barry spent six years as the head of television and a partner at The Firm, where he oversaw development and production across all major networks and studios. Between 2016 and 2017, he executive produced WGN America's Salem, Netflix's Haters Back Off and ABC's Notorious.
Barry previously worked within ABC Entertainment Group for 10 years as a creative executive in various capacities. He was the head of drama development and current programming at ABC Studios. Prior to that, he worked at ABC Network and Touchstone Television. During his time at ABC, Barry worked on such shows as Desperate Housewives, Grey’s Anatomy, Lost, Alias, Pushing Daisies, Ugly Betty and Brothers & Sisters.
While Levy isn't the first creator to sign an overall deal with Netflix — the streamer inked its massive pact (estimated to be around $100 million) with Grey's Anatomy and Scandal creator Shonda Rhimes in August and made its deal with Orange Is the New Black and GLOW producer Kohan in November — he is the first producer of a show fully owned by Netflix to make such a pact. The move signals that the streaming giant may similarly reward its top producers for breakout hits in the future.
Additional reporting by Lesley Goldberg.