The company plans a slate of several television series and feature films per year. 101 Studios will be managing and overseeing all production, distribution and marketing for Sports Illustrated Studios in collaboration with ABG, which purchased Sports Illustrated in May from Meredith Corp. for $110 million.
“At the core of 101 Studios, we seek to tell stories that create cultural conversations, which is the same pillar behind the stories that have been told and continue to be told by Sports Illustrated,” said Glasser, CEO of 101 Studios. “Sports Illustrated has covered every major story in sports since the 1950s and, before the Internet, they were often the only publication covering the most famous and memorable stories in depth. Through this new partnership, we have the chance to bring these archival and current stories to life in ways people have never seen before.”
The partners announced Tuesday that the first project is “Covers,” a docuseries of two-hour segments based on Sports Illustrated’s top cover stories with a behind-the-scenes glimpse into what went into creating each one. They did not disclose which covers would be covered but noted that covers have featured Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan, Tom Brady, Serena Williams, Tiger Woods, Sidney Crosby and Megan Rapinoe and notable stories have included a botched robbery at the All-Star Café, a 1990s sports-themed restaurant.
Glasser said the venture will begin announcing directors for “Covers” and hopes to get the first episode on the air by the end of year, depending on how soon Hollywood can get back to work following the coronavirus pandemic. Distribution deals have not yet been set.
“The creation of a studio dedicated to developing original programming is a key building block for the future of Sports Illustrated and ABG,” said Jamie Salter, founder, chairman and CEO of ABG. “Less than a year after acquiring the brand, we have made great strides in tapping the value of this franchise and expanding its reach across sports, culture and entertainment. This partnership is a testament to the strength of SI and the ingenuity of 101 Studios.”
Glasser and Salter said the joint venture idea grew out of their partnership evolved from working together on the drama series “The Last Days of Marilyn Monroe.” The series is described as the first-ever film or TV project to be endorsed by ABG, owner of the Marilyn Monroe Estate.
“Sports Illustrated is the most trusted brand in sports,” Glasser said. “There are at least 300 articles that can developed into content for all platforms”
Sports Illustrated launched in 1954 as a weekly magazine, then went to a twice-a-month publication in 2018 and became monthly earlier this year. Authentic Brands licensed rights to publish in print and digital to Maven Media in June. Maven announced in March that it was cutting 6% of the Sprots Illustrated staff.
Glasser, former chief operating officer of the Weinstein Co., launched 101 Studios early last year with the backing of billionaire investor Ron Burkle. 101 produces Taylor Sheridan’s “Yellowstone” series for Paramount Network as well as Sheridan’s upcoming series “Mayor of Kingstown.” Past releases include Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s “The Current War: Director’s Cut,” and “Burden,” featuring Forest Whitaker and Garrett Hedlund. Its upcoming releases include the Russo Brothers’ “City of a Million Soldiers.”
Michele Newman from 101 Studios and Aerin Snow and Leif Cervantes de Reinstein from Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton handled the deal for 101 Studios. Salter, Marc Rosen and Colin Smeeton represented ABG.