Ava DuVernay Signs $100M Deal To Bring More ‘Untraditional Energy’, Content To TV

Written by Dana Sanchez

Emmy-winning and Oscar-nominated writer, producer, director and entrepreneur Ava DuVernay has signed a multi-year creative partnership with Warner Bros. TV Group — her first overall deal with any studio.

Warner Bros. declined to say what the deal is worth, but Deadline writer Dominic Patten said he knows. “The deal is in the $100 million range, I’ve learned,” Patten wrote.

The multi-year overall development and production deal is exclusive for DuVernay and her production company, Forward Movement, Warner Bros. said in a press release.

DuVernay will develop new TV projects including drama and comedy series, longform/event series, documentaries, digital content and more for all platforms, including broadcast, premium/pay, basic cable channels and streaming/on-demand platforms.

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DuVernay worked with Warner Bros. on “Queen Sugar” and “The Red Line,” an upcoming series for CBS about the devastating effects felt by three families when an innocent African-American doctor is shot by a white police officer in Chicago.

“Ava DuVernay is one of the leading lights in our industry, a brilliantly talented writer, producer, director and entrepreneur whose ability to inspire with her art is exceeded only by her ability to entertain,” said Peter Roth, president and chief content officer of Warner Bros. TV Group. “We are extremely excited about the new stories she has to tell.”


DuVernay said she loves working with Roth and Warner Bros.  “They love and support artists in wonderful and nourishing ways. They work within a traditional studio headed by Kevin Tsujihara that is stirring with untraditional energy and fresh protocols for intentional, inclusive image-making. Warner Bros. is a terrific partner about matters of visibility and belonging for all kinds and cultures of people, which is our mission at Forward Movement. I couldn’t be happier to call Warner Bros. TV my production home.”

DuVernay’s move to a traditional studio may have come as a surprise to some Hollywood insiders. Shonda Rhimes‘ $150 million Netflix deal in 2017 added to the growing threat Hollywood faces from streaming services.

“Many might have considered (DuVernay) a more natural fit at Netflix, where her Oscar-nominated documentary ’13th’ was launched,” Patten wrote in Deadline. “She also has the just-wrapped four-part drama ‘Central Park Five’ coming next year from the streaming service as well as a Prince documentary with exclusive access to the Purple One’s archives.”


The difference is the Warner Bros. deal offers DuVernay the chance to sell her shows to everyone as opposed to being locked into one outlet, Deadline reported. It also allows her to direct for the big screen. Her adaptation of “The New Gods” for Warner Bros will be the second such film for DuVernay. She was the first woman of color to direct a $100 million-plus live-action film with Disney’s “A Wrinkle In Time” earlier this year.

Outside of her association with Warner Bros., DuVernay is producing, writing and directing the Netflix miniseries “Central Park Five.” Her company, Forward Movement, is also working with pro football player and social activist Colin Kaepernick to develop a comedy series based on his life during high school. Her documentary “13th” was nominated for three Emmy Awards, winning two, and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. She directed “Selma,” which was nominated for two Oscars and won one. Her prior film credits include “I Will Follow” and “Middle of Nowhere,” which won Best Director Award at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. She was the first Black woman to win that award.

Ava DuVernay
Ava DuVernay attends the Black Girls Rock! Awards at New Jersey Performing Arts Center on Sunday, Aug. 26, 2018, in Newark, N.J. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)