By Elaine Low | Variety
Netflix and Shonda Rhimes are extending their creative relationship, inked in 2017, beyond television to feature films and gaming.
Under the terms of the expanded deal, which encompasses Rhimes’ Shondaland Media and her longtime producing partner Betsy Beers, Netflix and Shondaland will exclusively produce, stream and distribute feature films in addition to potential gaming and virtual reality content.
“When Ted and I decided to break the traditional network TV business model to move Shondaland to Netflix, we were both taking a leap into the unknown,” said Rhimes in a statement. “Today, Shondaland at Netflix is creatively thriving, profitable as an asset and engaging audiences around the world with stories that fearlessly challenge viewers and keep them highly entertained all at once. Ted, Bela and the entire team at Netflix have been tremendous partners during every step of the process, supporting my creative vision and showing a continued dedication to the innovation that has made Netflix such a powerhouse. The Shondaland team and I are thrilled and excited to be expanding our relationship with our content partners at Netflix.”
Additionally, Netflix will invest in and offer the “financial and technical infrastructure to support Shondaland’s mission to create DEIA (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Accessibility) programs that can increase industry workplace representation for underrepresented groups both domestically and in the UK,” per the streamer.
The renewed, expanded deal comes on the heels of the global popularity of Shondaland’s Regency-era romance “Bridgerton,” which Netflix says was viewed by 82 million member households in the series’ first 28 days on the service. The series, based on the novels by Julia Quinn, is currently in production on Season 2 and has already been renewed for a third and fourth season. A Queen Charlotte origin-story limited series is also in the works, which will feature the stories of a young Violet Bridgerton and Lady Danbury. Rhimes is writing and exec producing alongside Beers and Tom Verica.
Also on tap from Shondaland are the limited series “Inventing Anna,” set for 2022, and Debbie Allen documentary “Dance Dreams: Hot Chocolate Nutcracker.”
“Shonda makes shows that get the world talking, and we’ve seen the power of her creative vision to translate in any language,” said Netflix’s head of global TV Bela Bajaria. “Shonda’s a brilliant businesswoman and a terrific partner and we’re thrilled to expand our relationship with her for years to come. On a personal note, I’m especially invested in the mentorship and pipeline programs we will support, as I’ve seen firsthand how the power of mentorship can transform careers and lives — and I’m excited by the possibility of what that can look like in Shonda’s hands.”
Rhimes and Shondaland are repped by ICM Partners and the law firm Gendler and Kelly.