Jordan Peele Lands Major Deal with Universal Pictures

Oscar-winning director Jordan Peele has signed a five-year exclusive first-look deal with Universal Pictures. Universal, which partnered with Peele on Get Out (2017) and Us (2019), will release his next two films.

The deal was announced on October 1 by Universal Filmed Entertainment Group Chairman Donna Langley, Variety reported. CAA, Principato-Young, and Jared Levine brokered the deal on behalf of Peele and his production company, Monkeypaw Productions.

“Jordan has established himself as a premier voice and original storyteller with global appeal. He is leading a new generation of filmmakers that have found a way to tip into the cultural zeitgeist with groundbreaking content that resonates with audiences of all backgrounds,” Langley said in a statement.

Langley continued: “We also share an important goal with Monkeypaw when it comes to increasing representation onscreen in the characters that are portrayed, the stories that are told, and the people who tell them.”

Under the new deal, Peele will direct, write, and produce his next two films for Universal. The director and Monkeypaw Productions, led by president Win Rosenfeld, will also produce original films from other filmmakers, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

“It would not have been possible to make Get Out and Us without the endless trust and support we received from Donna Langley and the team at Universal. Their willingness to take risks and their commitment to original content makes them the perfect collaborative partner for Monkeypaw. I couldn’t be more excited for what lies ahead,” Peele said in a statement.

Insiders familiar with the negotiations told Variety that the deal is valued similarly to the nine-figure overall deals inked between stars and streaming giants such as Netflix and Amazon. However, Peele’s pact with Universal is structured to follow the linear model in which traditional studio’s operate.

The deal includes upfront compensation, operational costs for Peele and Rosenfeld, and new backend box office percentages, Variety reported. Peele previously signed a two-year overall deal with Universal in May 2017.

In 2018, the production company produced Spike Lee’s feature BlacKkKlansman, which went on to receive six Oscar nominations, according to Deadline.

Monkeypaw’s current project is a retelling of the horror film Candyman, written by Peele and Rosenfeld and directed by Nia DaCosta. The film will be released by Universal globally, with its North American release date set for June 12, 2020.

According to Forbes, Monkeypaw Productions also has a first-look TV deal with Amazon Studios. News of the 2018 deal came after Peele and Monkeypaw established two projects with the streaming giant: “The Hunt,” a drama series about a team of Nazi hunters and a documentary series called “Lorenaabout the case of Lorena Bobbitt. The production company is behind “The Twilight Zonereboot on CBS All Access as well.

“Jordan, Win Rosenfeld, and the Monkeypaw team represent the ideal creative collaboration as we continue to ramp up original, culturally relevant and riveting television,” Jennifer Salke, head of Amazon Studios, said at the time of the deal, according to Variety. “Our Lorena Bobbitt documentary and series order for “The Hunt” represent just the start of what will be a prolific and exciting relationship with Monkeypaw.”

Peele also celebrated the deal, calling Amazon Studios a “fantastic partner” to Monkeypaw because “they’re committed to the same kind of fun and culturally relevant television we are.”

Peele made his directorial debut in 2017 with Get Out after leaving the hit Comedy Central series “Key & Peele,” which he co-created and starred in with Keegan-Michael Key. The Emmy-winning series generated more than 1 billion online hits, won 2 Emmys and was nominated 18 times, won a Peabody Award, and an American Comedy Award.

Get Out scored more than $255 million worldwide on a $5 million budget, with an estimated profit after all ancillaries of nearly $125 million, according to Deadline. The film earned four Oscar nominations, including for best picture, best director, and best actor for star Daniel Kaluuya. Peele took home the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.

In March, Peele released his sophomore film Us, a social thriller starring Lupita Nyong’o. The film opened to $71 million, representing the highest-grossing opening ever for an original horror film as well as the highest-grossing opening for a live-action original since Avatar in 2009. Us earned $255 million at the global box office on a $20 million budget, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

About the Author

Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various publications, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Asia and Australia.