Apple Inc. has finalized a five-year production deal with former HBO Chief Executive Richard Plepler.
Plepler’s newly launched company, Eden Productions, will produce original series, feature films and documentaries exclusively for Apple’s recently launched streaming service, Apple TV+. Plepler’s boutique production firm, which will be headquartered on the Upper East Side of New York, takes its name from his daughter, Eden.
“Apple is one of the most creative companies in the world, and the perfect home for my new production company and next chapter,” Plepler said in a statement.
Plepler, 61, worked at HBO for three decades and was the chief architect of its creative renaissance with “Game of Thrones,” “Silicon Valley,” “Boardwalk Empire,” “Succession,” “Chernobyl” and “Big Little Lies.” During his tenure, HBO won more than 150 Emmy Awards.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. The deal, which was negotiated over the last few months, begins this month.
Plepler has long enjoyed a strong relationship with Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president for software and services, who oversees Apple TV+. So the move to Apple made sense after Plepler abruptly cut ties 10 months ago with his former company, now called WarnerMedia, which was acquired by AT&T in June 2018. At the time, there were significant tensions over HBO’s direction amid AT&T’s move into the streaming space.
Now, Plepler will be competing with members of his former team, who are working to prepare for the high-stakes launch of AT&T’s streaming service, HBO Max. Plepler will be working with Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht — two former Sony Pictures Television executives — who now run Apple’s original programming efforts.
The Cupertino, Calif., company launched its Apple TV+ subscription service in November with mixed results. It is expected to initially spend $1 billion to $2 billion annually on its original programming. So far, much of its fare has been led by well-known celebrities or directors, including Oprah Winfrey, “Game of Thrones” star Jason Momoa, Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston.
Plepler’s production deal is loosely fashioned after one that former Fox President Peter Chernin crafted in 2010 when he left Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. media company. Since then, Chernin Group has produced movies and television shows and pushed into the digital space with investments in such eclectic offerings as Barstool Sports and table-top game company Exploding Kittens.