Phil Lord, Chris Miller Developing Marvel TV Universe With Nine-Figure Sony Overall Deal

Chris Miller and Phil Lord  attend the Nespresso British Academy Film Awards - Getty-H 2019
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Phil Lord and Chris Miller are moving their overall deal from 20th Century Fox TV to Sony Pictures TV.

Hot on the heels of the animated feature Oscar win for Spider-Man: Into the Spider Verse and in a competitive situation with multiple outlets bidding, the writing, producing and directing duo have inked a five-year agreement that sources value in the nine-figure range.

Under the pact, Lord and Miller will create and develop their own comedy and drama projects for broadcast, cable and streaming as well as supervise other writers' projects. Additionally, the pair will also be involved in developing a suite of television series based on Sony's universe of Marvel characters. Those include Spider-Man (and all his villains, like Green Goblin); Venom (a sequel with Tim Hardy is in the works); Morbius (which has a live-action feature in the works starring Jared Leto); and Black Cat and Silver Sable (both in development on the feature side). Select TV projects related to Sony's Marvel characters will be produced in partnership with former Sony Pictures Entertainment co-chairman Amy Pascal. Also possibly on the table: all the characters from Into the Spider-Verse. It's unclear which Marvel characters Lord and Miller will take on.

"This is a significant milestone for our television business, having the opportunity to work with two of the most creative forces in the industry in both our film and television businesses,” SPT chairman Mike Hopkins said Monday in a statement. “Building on our strong IP and creating new franchises has been a key focus for SPE, and the best way to do that is to invest in remarkable storytellers like Phil and Chris. We are thrilled to welcome them to the SPT family, and I want to thank [SPT co-presidents] Jeff [Frost], Chris [Parnell] and Jason [Clodfelter] for all their hard work in pulling this deal together."

The pact expands Lord and Miller's relationship with Sony Entertainment, for whom they collaborated on the film studio's Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, 21 and 22 Jump Street and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. The pair have multiple projects in the works with the feature studio, including The Last Human.

On the TV side, all of Lord and Miller's projects will be produced via their Lord Miller Productions banner, which is overseen by Aubrey Lee, who will also make the move to Sony and continue as vp TV development and production. Lord and Miller had been based at 20th TV since 2013, having produced series including The Last Man on Earth and the short-lived animation/live-action hybrid comedy Son of Zorn. The duo next executive produce Fox's Bless the Harts animated series from showrunner Emily Spivey for 20th TV.  

"We are so grateful to everyone at Sony Pictures Television for choosing to partner with us and expand our enduring relationship with the studio," Lord and Miller said in a joint statement. "Together we aim to make groundbreaking work of the highest quality and integrity, and to place that work in convenient proximity to your eyeballs and earholes, wherever you may be."

The pact should be considered a big win for Sony TV, which had struggled to land and keep talent as an indie studio in an era in which broadcast, cable and streaming outlets alike have increasingly focused on owning their own content. The studio last week also incked Homeland duo Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa to an overall deal after the pair departed their longtime home at the now Disney-owned 20th Century Fox TV. The deals for both Gordon and Gansa and Lord and Miller arrive after prolific producers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg departed their longtime home at Sony TV for a lucrative film and TV pact with Lionsgate.

"Phil and Chris have reimagined every medium and genre they have touched,” said Sony Pictures Television president Frost. "Whether it’s television, features or animation, they have created their own unique brand and style. We are so excited to be working with these brilliant creators and showrunners and are looking forward to collaborating with them in every aspect of television — comedy, drama, animation and beyond."

Lord and Miller's deal, which was completed before the WGA/ATA franchise agreement expired, was brokered by UTA and Ziffren Brittenham.

Lord and Miller become the latest producers to cash in on a new overall deal as streamers like Netflix have created a war for top talent. The market for experienced producers continues to escalate as media behemoths Apple, WarnerMedia, Disney and Comcast plan streaming services of their own to better compete with established tech giants including Netflix and Amazon. Universal TV earlier this month re-signed The Good Place creator Michael Schur to a five-year, nine-figure pact after losing Mindy Kaling to Warner Bros. TV, where she signed a six-year, eight-figure overall deal. Fresh Off the Boat showrunner Nahnatchka Khan also moved her overall deal from 20th TV to Universal TV in February.

In terms of Marvel, Sony's potential suite of TV series could rival the long list of Disney-produced shows from Marvel Television. Those include multiple live-action scripted TV spinoffs from the MCU, including characters from Avengers: Endgame, for Disney+ and produced via the film division as well as Marvel TV veterans like ABC's Agents of SHIELD, Freeform's Cloak and Dagger and Hulu's The Runaways. Hulu also has a deal for a four-show animated Marvel universe in the works.