At 3:08 a.m. last Friday, Hollywood crowned its newest golden boy. And by the looks of things, it was a pricey coronation.
J.J. Abrams, the creator of Lost and the director of Tom Cruise's latest big-screen spectacle, Mission: Impossible III, signed new TV and film production deals with Warner Bros. and Paramount, respectively, with the pair of contracts reportedly worth an estimated $60 million.
(Variety pegs the deal at nearly $58 million, the Los Angeles Times claims it's closer to $68 million, and the Hollywood Reporter goes for the somewhat happy medium estimation of $60 million.)
And while that may not quite rival Hurley's fortune, it's a sizeable haul nonetheless.
The deals, hashed out in the wee hours of Friday, ended intense courting over the past months by several studios vying for the chance to put Abrams' name on their marquees and came after a surprising last-minute bid from Warners.
For seven years, the Emmy-winning writer-director-producer had based his Bad Robot TV production company at the Walt Disney-owned Touchstone Television studio, where he created Felicity, Lost, Alias, What About Brian? and the upcoming Six Degrees.
However, when the time came to renegotiate Abrams' contract, Touchstone balked at a proposed deal that would have required the company to up Abrams' take of the profits from his shows. And that's when Warners swooped in.
"An opportunity presented itself, and we went for it," Peter Roth, president of Warner Bros. Television told the Los Angeles Times. "J.J. is such a unique and extraordinary talent, someone whom I've admired for years."
Thanks to that big new check, we're guessing the feeling's mutual.
Abrams' six-year deal with Warners puts him on the same lot--and Hollywood status--as fellow prolific producers Jerry Bruckheimer and John Wells.
While both Abrams and the studio have stayed mum on the exact terms of the deal, its reported that the multihyphenate talent will take home $4 million-$6 million a year guaranteed, along with the studio shelling out $2 million a year for Bad Robot's overhead.
And that sticking point with Touchstone? Warner Bros. reportedly acquiesced to Abrams' request for a higher cut of the profits, granting him an impressive 35 percent share of his productions' backend, including DVD sales, syndication deals and Internet downloads.
The deal, which goes through June 2012, cost Warner Bros. an estimated $35 million, though it?s a price tag the studio was happy to pay.
"What I know in my head and my gut is that it's always a good idea to own great content," Bruce Rosenblum, president of WB TV group, told the Times. "And J.J. Abrams makes great content."
It's unknown whether Abrams and his team will immediately take to developing new projects or continue to focus on their existing three projects at ABC: Lost, which kicks off its third season this fall, What About Brian?, now heading into its second season, and Six Degrees, which has yet to premiere.
As for the big-screen deal, while it lacked the plot-twisting drama of his TV negotiations, the movie agreement more than made up for it with sheer, well, cash.
Abrams' new contract with Paramount Pictures reportedly guarantees him $22.5 million a year over five years; the breakdown includes $2 million a year for his troubles, $2 million for Bad Robot and a $500,000 discretionary fund.
In addition, he'll receive $5 million for the first movie he directs for Paramount and an undisclosed backend percentage if the film is a box-office success. While it has yet to move into the development stage, Abrams is considering the making the 11th installment of Paramount's Star Trek franchise his next movie.
"We think J.J. is the next Steven Spielberg," Paramount chairman Brad Grey told the Times. "He's a triple threat: a great writer, producer and now, a first-class movie director."
Abrams' deal also includes him producing, though not necessarily directing, smaller-budget films.
"I'm particularly excited about this aspect of our partnership," he told Variety. "I have nothing against larger-budget films, but as someone who's worked in television, I know that some pretty powerful stories can be told for somewhere under $200 million."
As for fears that Abrams' split focus may result in poorer quality in either his film or TV productions, neither studio seems concerned.
"I'm well aware of all he's doing. I'm not afraid of it," Warners' Peter Roth told Variety. "Not everybody has the ability to do all that J.J. does."
Paramount president Gail Berman agreed, telling the Hollywood Reporter that Abrams "is someone who is extremely prolific and multitasks better than anyone I've ever seen."