CAA is buying ICM, creating a super-agency to take on a changing Hollywood

CAA’s purchase of ICM will create a super-agency to take on a changing entertainment industry.


September 30, 2021

Photo by David McNew/Getty Images

If you’ve ever seen “Entourage,” you know agency rivalries run deep — but Creative Artists Agency’s newest deal would make Ari Gold proud.

With CAA’s fiercest competitor, Endeavor, expanding into Hollywood-adjacent businesses, the purchase of ICM Partners shows CAA is doubling down on talent representation…

… and the combined company has some serious talent

CAA has built a star-studded roster across film, music, and sports that includes Tom Hanks, Reese Witherspoon, and Steven Spielberg…

… while ICM has built a TV juggernaut that includes:

  • Shonda Rhimes, creator of “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal”
  • Vince Gilligan, creator of “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Saul”
  • Ellen Degeneres

The combined company will take on a changing entertainment landscape

The transition to streaming is not lost on CAA, whose client, Scarlett Johannson, missed out on millions when Disney premiered “Black Widow” on Disney+.

Her situation is the most prominent recent example of traditional entertainment business models undergoing changes that impact payout structure, including:

  • Box office numbers falling due in part to simultaneous streaming releases
  • TV syndication deals drying up as streaming has overtaken cable
  • Music artists have largely been unable to tour for the past 2 years

To replace those revenue streams…

… CAA-ICM expects to focus more on helping clients build out entrepreneurial ventures. For instance:

  • Reese Witherspoon’s production company Hello Sunshine, which recently sold for ~$900m
  • Gwenyth Paltrow’s lifestyle brand Goop, which was recently valued at $250m

If CAA-ICM can help clients succeed with their entrepreneurial pursuits, lower salaries may not matter. Regardless, we’d still love to see Ari Gold go to battle with Disney execs on behalf of ScarJo.

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