What is a First-Look Deal?

If you listen to entertainment news or read the trades like Variety or Hollywood Reporter, chances are you’ve heard about a filmmaker or someone getting a First-Look Deal.

So let’s cut to the chase — a first-look deal is basically a contract where a party (typically a distributor, studio, network, etc) retains the right to have first right of refusal on your next venture. For example, if you wrote a screenplay and wanted to have it made — the studio or network would have first dibs on what you have. In the event they aren’t interested, then you can go off and shop it around town to whoever you want.

Movies behind the scenes photos

How Do I Get a First-Look Deal with a Studio?

The answer here is pretty obvious — do or make something great. Have a box office smash, work in the industry long enough where folks want to partner with you, pitch and create successful shows or even these days just having an incredibly large following (ie. Kim Kardashian, etc).

The takeaway here is that you need to have some type of talent or offering where a studio or network feels they can make money with you.

Just to be clear, first-look deals aren’t reserved for just filmmakers. Other content creators and personality types can get one depending on how big of an audience they’re able to attract.

Here’s some examples of recent first-look deals:

  1. Regina Hall and Showtime
  2. Eva Longoria with 20th TV
  3. Gabrielle Union and Sony
  4. Wilmer Valderrama and CBS TV Studios



What’s an Overall Deal?

Now this deal is different from the first-look deal in the fact that the creators have agreed to work exclusively with the network or studio. Generally speaking, these deals are usually more lucrative than a first-look deal because the creator can not shop their material anywhere else if the network or studio doesn’t like it.

Not only that, but the content the creator came up with remains under the intellectual property of the network or studio regardless if they use it or not even after the deal terms are up.

Some of the overall deals that went down this year in 2020 that Netflix signed were:

  1. John Boyeha and his production company (Star Wars, Attack the Block)
  2. Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth, The Shape of Water)
  3. Steve Blackman (The Umbrella Academy)
  4. The Duffer Brothers (Stranger Things)

You can see the entire list here.

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