×

Richard Branson’s Virgin Produced Boards Will Smith’s ‘After Earth’

Virgin, Overbrook team up on 'After Earth' sequel, other projects through non-exclusive partnership.

Even before “After Earth” crash lands into theaters at the end of the month, Sony’s sci-fi epic, starring Will Smith and his son Jaden, already has a big fan: Richard Branson.

The British mogul’s entertainment shingle Virgin Produced has paired with Overbrook Entertainment to co-produce, co-finance and co-market a sequel to “After Earth,” should the film strike a chord with moviegoers when the film, directed by M. Night Shyamalan, is released by Columbia Pictures on May 31.

Through the non-exclusive deal, Virgin Produced and Overbook, Will Smith’s production company run by longtime partner James Lassiter, also have plans to develop film and TV properties together, which Virgin will promote through Branson’s various business, including airlines, retail, mobile, radio, health clubs and upcoming hotel chain

Overbrook is expected to be the first of several deals with talent-owned production companies Virgin Produced has planned, said the shingle’s CEO and co-founder Jason Felts, as it looks to grow the brand.

Founded in 2010, Virgin Produced has co-produced a half-dozen films, including “21 and Over,” “Machine Gun Preacher,” “Immortals” and “Limitless” through its former overall deal with Relativity Media.

Virgin was attracted to “After Earth,” given the pic’s “focus on the future that awaits the human race if it continues on its destructive environmental path and raises important questions about the present state of the planet, the future, and the environment,” the company said.

In “After Earth,” a crash landing leaves a teenager and his legendary father stranded on Earth 1,000 years after cataclysmic events forced humanity’s escape. With his father critically injured, his son must embark on a perilous journey to signal for help, facing uncharted terrain, evolved animal species that now rule the planet, and an unstoppable alien creature that escaped during the crash.

As a philanthropist, Branson has put considerable resources behind charitable causes that tackle social and environmental issues through his Virgin Unite nonprofit foundation. He also is a big promoter of space travel through his Virgin Galactic division.

“This deal makes perfect sense for us, both in a thematic sense and as a company,” Felts said. “At Virgin, we believe it’s important to give mankind a heightened awareness of the nature and vulnerability of our planet. For example, we have to travel to space to look down and see how fragile the earth is; certainly, the film takes that message to heart in both literal and figurative ways. As a company, we saw the opportunity to team up with one of the industry’s leading film and television production companies that also embraces this mission.  That’s why we’re excited to partner with Overbrook on future films.”

Overbrook’s Lassiter added, “We believe they share our ultimate goal: to create entertainment that also uplifts and educates.  Simply, we both believe that entertainment can be a force for good in the world – and we think both companies are leaders in that aspect. That’s why this deal is a natural fit.”

Gary Whitta and Shyamalan penned the script for “After Earth,” from a story by Will Smith. Caleeb Pinkett, Jada Pinkett Smith, Will Smith, Lassiter and Shyamalan produced the film.

More Biz

  • Haim Saban

    Haim Saban Pledges to Invest $500 Million to Launch Music Label

    Businessman, investor and philanthropist Haim Saban, who heads the Saban Capital Group, has pledged to invest $500 million to launch a record label. Saban Music Group (SMG) will be led by music executive Gustavo Lopez and focus on “international A&R, artist development and strategically supporting a 360 model for artists,” reads a release announcing SMG, [...]

  • Street scene Sunset Boulevard at night

    In Los Angeles, Rock and Roll Fights to Save the Sunset Strip

    On a recent Saturday evening on Sunset Boulevard, just beyond the nightly caravan of European sports cars and open-air tour buses that have seen better days, the famous Tower Records building was once again bathed in the familiar red and yellow paint job of the iconic music store that once occupied its stone-brick walls. Though [...]

  • Plume of black smoke rising from

    Universal Music Files Motion to Dismiss Lawsuit From Artists Claiming Fire Damage

    Universal Music Group filed a motion on Wednesday to dismiss a class-action lawsuit from attorneys representing Soundgarden, Hole, Steve Earle and the estates of Tupac and Tom Petty over master recordings reportedly destroyed in a 2008 fire, the extent of which was revealed last month in a New York Times article. UMG argues that the musicians cannot pursue a [...]

  • After Yet Another Rejection, What Could

    After Yet Another Rejection, What Could Be Next for Woodstock 50?

    In the wake of the Town of Vernon’s third rejection of Woodstock 50’s permit application to hold its music festival at a venue in the Upstate New York municipality, one may well wonder what the troubled event’s next move might be. In the hours after the latest rejection was announced, even the optimistic-bordering-on-unrealistic producers sounded [...]

  • US actor Kevin Spacey (C) is

    Kevin Spacey Sexual Assault Case Dropped in Nantucket

    Nantucket prosecutors have dropped a sexual assault case against actor Kevin Spacey, citing the “unavailability” of the complaining witness. Spacey had been accused of groping an 18-year-old busboy at the Club Car restaurant in July 2016. He was charged with indecent sexual assault, and a trial was set to be held in the fall. However, [...]

  • Plume of black smoke rising from

    Universal Music Updates Staff on Fire Damage in Internal Memo (Read)

    Ahead of an expected motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed last month by several artists over damage in the 2008 fire that destroyed hundreds of thousands of master recordings, according to the New York Times, the company’s chief archivist, Pat Kraus, issued a memo to the staff that has been obtained by Variety. While the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content