I say this with caution because they have been considered bonafide directorial legends since last year, when their culmination to Marvel’s Avengers saga, Endgame, became one of the biggest commercial and critical Hollywood successes of all time, turning theatres into amphitheatres and giving Robert Downey Jr.'s Iron Man a mythical farewell. Yet, even as we enter the last quarter of 2020 in the middle of a global pandemic, the demand for their talent has not abated a bit, even as theatres struggle to survive.
The renewed interest in their abilities comes not from theatres, but from global OTT majors such as Netflix, Amazon and Apple. Unlike the legacy studios of Hollywood such as Disney and Warner Bros, these new-age studios are interested in curating cinematic experiences for screen-agnostic audiences. And the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 has only strengthened their resolve to pay top dollar for quality content that they can showcase on their platforms.
It is not as if these platforms are talking to other creators for augmenting their catalogues. However, the number of deals conducted by the Russo Brothers with various platforms through their production banner AGBO Films is mind-boggling.
It has been a rather eventful six months for AGBO. It all started with their production of Extraction, the Netflix action-thriller helmed by Sam Hargreave and featuring Chris Hemsworth, Randeep Hooda, Rudraksh Jaiswal, Golshifteh Farahani and Priyanshu Painyuli. Made at a budget of USD 65 million and released on April 24, 2020, the film went on to clock 99 million views in its first four weeks as per Netflix's own statistics.
Since then, it has been raining deals for AGBO Films. A sequel to Extraction is reported to be in development, with pre-production set to commence next year. Meanwhile, Netflix has already snapped up the brothers for directing The Gray Man, an espionage thriller starring Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans, with a reportedly staggering budget of over USD 200 million. At Netflix, AGBO is also collaborating with Barack and Michelle Obama's Higher Ground Productions for an adaptation of Mohsin Hamid's 2017 novel Exit West.
But these projects are only for Netflix. A similar flurry of activity is being witnessed at Amazon too. AGBO is getting ready to shoot it’s most ambitious action series for Amazon—Citadel, starring Richard Madden and Priyanka Chopra Jonas. In terms of storytelling, this show is envisioned as a mother show, which will have several offshoots set in various countries. Already Italian production giant Cattleya has come on board for the series set in Italy, while The Family Mancreators Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK will get involved in the Indian version via their company D2R Films.
That's not all, however, as AGBO is collaborating with Noah Hawley, the writer of the Fargo TV series, and Krysty Wilson-Cairns for an adaptation of Evan Ratliff's novel The Mastermind for Amazon. At the same time, they have also sold rights to The Heavens to Amazon, which is based on an original idea by Lev Grossman.
If Netflix and Amazon are taken care of, can Disney be far behind? No. The brothers are also busy with a live-action adaptation of Hercules for Disney.
And finally, even as September comes to an end, Apple has announced its acquisition of the worldwide rights to their directorial effort, Cherry, starring Tom Holland and Ciara Bravo, based on the memoir by Nico Walker. The amended rules for the 2020 Oscars mean that Cherry could be released on Apple TV+ in either December 2020 or sometime in 2021. Either way, it’s a win-win for both the filmmakers and audiences.
For a relatively-new production company, AGBO Films certainly has its hands full. Only time will tell whether these projects succeed in solidifying the reputation of the Russo Brothers for producing engaging content. However, it certainly looks like the good times are here for the Russo Brothers, as they navigate the tricky waters of streaming.
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