Ron Howard and Brian Grazer’s Imagine Entertainment has entered a significant content deal with Major League Baseball, Variety can report exclusively.
The partnership will yield multiple scripted and unscripted projects, the first of which is a documentary feature from noted filmmaker R.J. Cutler (The September Issue, Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry) following baseball’s 2023 world series.
“I’ve always been drawn to the drama, high stakes, and emotion of baseball ever since I was kid in the bleachers of Dodger Stadium,” Oscar winner Howard told Variety. “These also happen to be the very same elements that make for a great movie or television show, which is why Brian, Imagine and I are so excited to be teaming up with Major League Baseball to bring more of their stories to life.”
MLB will participate in the deal through its eponymous studios label, which creates, produces and consults on original content with multi-platform media and licensing projects that span film, television, audio and digital. To date, they have launched titles like Once Upon a Time in Queens and The Captain on ESPN, Say Hey, Willie Mays! for HBO and After Jackie, a civil rights story set in ’60s baseball for the History network. ESPN Films recently announced an eight-part documentary series, The Yankees Win, produced in partnership with the label.
“Collaborating with Ron Howard and Imagine is a dream come true,” said Noah Garden, MLB’s chief revenue officer. “The opportunities that come with two premier global media companies partnering are limitless. Couple that with Ron’s passionate and vocal fandom for the game of baseball and we know we have a framework to produce unmatched content for fans to enjoy across a collection of platforms.”
The Cutler documentary promises to take a deep dive into all of the intersecting narratives, on and off the field, that surround the high stakes climax of America’s national pastime. Cutler will make the film through his production entity This Machine, set up at Sony Pictures Television.
Imagine’s library and ongoing slate is entrenched in sports, from the millennial favorite Blue Crush to cultural landmarks like Friday Night Lights. Similar-sized intellectual property deals from the company include recent pacts with The Washington Post and Warner Music Group.