Ryan Murphy, the prolific creator of hit shows like Glee and American Horror Story, is leaving his long-time home base at Fox and moving to Netflix in a record-setting $250-300 million deal, per Variety. The deal is set for five years starting on July 1, which is when Murphy’s deal with Fox ends, and will require him to make series and films exclusively for Netflix. This intriguingly comes during the transition period after Disney’s agreement to acquire 20th Century Fox and FX Networks, which Murphy had expressed concern about: He recently asked reporters, “Am I going to have to put Mickey Mouse in American Horror Story?”
This deal really serves as a major blow to Disney CEO Bob Iger, who personally sought Murphy out to join the new mega-studio. Iger obviously hoped to keep Murphy’s brand and hugely successful shows within the studio. Murphy issued a statement about possibly his biggest career move yet on Tuesday, saying:
The history of this moment is not lost on me. I am a gay kid from Indiana who moved to Hollywood in 1989 with $55 in savings in my pocket, so the fact that my dreams have crystallized and come true in such a major way is emotional and overwhelming to me. I am awash in genuine appreciation for Ted Sarandos, Reed Hastings, and Cindy Holland at Netflix for believing in me and the future of my company, which will continue to champion women, minorities, and LGBTQ heroes and heroines, and I am honored and grateful to continue my partnership with my friends and peers at Fox on our existing shows.
Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said of the deal:
Ryan Murphy’s series have influenced the global cultural zeitgeist, reinvented genres and changed the course of television history. His unfaltering dedication to excellence and to give voice to the underrepresented, to showcase a unique perspective or just to shock the hell out of us, permeates his genre-shattering work. From Nip/Tuck—our first licensed series—to American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson and American Horror Story, we’ve seen how his brand of storytelling captivates consumers and critics across the globe. His celebrated body of work and his contributions to our industry speak for themselves, and we look forward to supporting Ryan in bringing his broad and diverse stories to the world.
This entire deal raises some questions about Dana Walden, the chairman and CEO of Fox Television Group. Walden and Iger have had a long working relationship and it has been rumored that Iger sought Walden to follow him as head of Disney. Speculation suggests that Walden will instead go with Murphy to work on their own production ventures.
This big career move for Murphy comes only as a slight surprise. With the Disney/Fox deal underway and possibly facing some serious complications, Murphy may have felt pressured to go with Netflix at the end of his contract with Fox due to this uncertainty with the future of Fox. However, this is not the first deal Netflix has made with a high-profile producer/showrunner. Last August, Netflix signed a $100-million deal with Shonda Rhimes, affecting the TV landscape immensely. This newest deal gives Netflix even more of an upper hand over cable television.
Murphy and Netflix already shared projects together before this announcement. Over the last few months, Murphy and Netflix worked to develop a series called Ratchet, about the origin of Nurse Ratchet from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and a political satire from Broadway star Ben Platt called The Politician.