The Atlantic and Anonymous Content have signed a first-look agreement, Variety has learned. Under the pact, Anonymous, the producer of movies and shows such as “Spotlight” and “True Detective,” will have the initial crack at developing and making scripted and unscripted content from the Atlantic’s past and present articles and content.
Both companies share a common investor. Emerson Collective, the limited liability company founded by Laurene Powell Jobs, is the majority owner of the Atlantic, as well as a minority stakeholder in Anonymous Content.
“It helped us find common cause,” the Atlantic’s president Bob Cohn said in an interview. “Although we knew of Anonymous Content’s great work and they knew of ours.”
“We’re cut from the same cloth in terms of our commitment to high-quality storytelling,” he added.
The deal between the companies encompasses projects across multiple platforms and mediums including feature films, documentaries, television shows, and podcasts. It’s the first such pact for the Atlantic, but it comes as other media companies are forging similar alliances with entertainment ventures. The Guardian has a partnership with Vice, NBC and BuzzFeed teamed up to produce TV content, and Paramount TV and Anonymous Content previously signed a first-look deal with Condé Nast Entertainment to to develop and produce scripted series.
The Atlantic covers a range of topics, extending from culture to politics to healthcare. Recent cover stories have included a Yoni Applebaum essay that argued for impeaching President Donald Trump, David Frum’s look at immigration in America, and James Carroll’s call to abolish the priesthood.
Cohn said the Atlantic is routinely approached by producers who are interested in turning the magazine’s stories into shows or movies. It is represented by UTA and the talent agency has already been working with the Atlantic’s staff to find articles that could inspire programming or movies. Cohn estimates that roughly a dozen potential projects have been identified. The first-look deal with Anonymous Content will help the company be more proactive, he argued.
“Having that day-to-day working relationship with another partner will expedite and accelerate the process,” said Cohn.
Editorial production and video licensing will be overseen by Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg, executive producer of Atlantic Studios. The Atlantic said it will hire an executive to help develop the material that is optioned.
“The Atlantic is one of the most original voices in the media landscape,” the partners at Anonymous Content said in a statement. “As a trailblazer in media, they continually produce compelling pieces on some of the most critical issues of our time and we look forward to working with them to help extend their incredible storytelling capabilities.”
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