Producer Ryan Murphy Is Expected to Move to Disney
Ryan Murphy, the television megaproducer behind hits like “American Horror Story” and “Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story,” is poised to move his operation to the Walt Disney Company, five years after he stunned Hollywood by decamping to Netflix for a $300 million deal.
The contract talks with Disney are not finished, according to three people briefed on the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private negotiations. No deal is expected to be completed until after the screenwriters’ strike in Hollywood is resolved, one of the people said. (Unionized film and television writers have been on strike since May 1.)
But the talks between Mr. Murphy and Disney are advanced, the people said. Mr. Murphy’s contract with Netflix expires at the end of the month. Renewal talks with Netflix never got off the ground.
Representatives for Mr. Murphy, Disney and Netflix either declined to comment or did not return calls. Bloomberg reported Mr. Murphy’s likely move to Disney earlier on Tuesday.
A deal with Disney would formally reunite Mr. Murphy with executives he worked closely with for more than a decade. Disney owns the FX cable channel, which is home to his “American Horror Story” franchise, which started in 2011. (The series also runs on Hulu, which Disney controls.) ABC, the Disney-owned broadcast network, recently bought the rights to “9-1-1,” a drama that Mr. Murphy created for Fox in 2018.
When Mr. Murphy signed his Netflix deal, in February 2018, it was just six months after another star producer, Shonda Rhimes, had signed her own nine-figure contract with the streaming company. The back-to-back signings were an emphatic statement by Netflix that it was in the business of paying any price for big-name writers. In the process, it set off a Hollywood arms race (which, amid broader concerns about the streaming business and the writers’ strike, has mostly cooled off).
Mr. Murphy’s tenure at Netflix got off to a bumpy start. Misfires included “The Politician” and “Hollywood.” It was not until last September that Mr. Murphy served up bona fide hits in “Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story” and “The Watcher.” Both series are among the 10 most-watched Netflix originals ever, according to the streaming service.
Mr. Murphy, who continued making shows for Disney even though he was under contract with Netflix — new seasons of “9-1-1” and “American Crime Story” continued apace — would likewise continue to make shows for Netflix after a move to Disney. The next edition of “Monster” will focus on Erik and Lyle Menéndez, the brothers serving life sentences for killing their wealthy parents in 1989, and “The Watcher” has been renewed for another season.
John Koblin covers the television industry. He is the co-author of “It’s Not TV: The Spectacular Rise, Revolution, and Future of HBO.” @koblin
Brooks Barnes is a media and entertainment reporter, covering all things Hollywood. He joined The Times in 2007 as a business reporter focused primarily on the Walt Disney Company. He previously worked for The Wall Street Journal. @brooksbarnesNYT
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