HBO Scores Deal With Lena Dunham’s New Production Company

HBO signing a deal with a high profile creator like Lena Dunham bodes well for the network as the content war continues to rage on.
Lena Dunham arrives at the HBO Golden Globes afterparty at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, in Beverly Hills, Calif75th Annual Golden Globe Awards - HBO Afterparty, Beverly Hills, USA - 07 Jan 2018
Lena Dunham
Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock

HBO has a Good Thing Going, both literally and figuratively, as the network announced an exclusive first-look deal with Lena Dunham’s new production company Wednesday. The “Girls” creator’s new company, Good Thing Going, is already working on a slate of television series, films, and other projects, and its deal with HBO will help the network stand out as the entertainment industry’s perpetual war over exclusive, high-quality content continues to rage on.

Good Thing Going, along with Bad Wolf, produced “Industry,” HBO’s upcoming financial drama series, and Dunham directed the pilot. Earlier in the week, HBO announced that the Dunham-produced “Generation” dramedy would be a pilot series for the upcoming HBO Max streaming service. Dunham is also working on an untitled HBO project about Russian fraudster Anna Delve and is writing and directing a film adaption of the “Catherine, Called Birdy” YA novel.

Although Dunham makes as many headlines for her controversial statements as she does positive press about her entertainment projects, those incidents haven’t hampered her success in the film and television industries. While her latest released project, HBO’s “Camping” comedy series, wasn’t a smash hit with critics, Dunham portrayed Manson Family member Catherine “Gypsy” Share in Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon A Time in Hollywood.” Dunham also made news in October when it was reported that she would adapt a nonfiction book about a refugee fleeing Egypt for Sweden via boat into a drama series that would be co-produced by Steven Spielberg and J.J. Abrams, though more recent details about that project are scarce.

As a first-look deal, Dunham and Good Thing Going aren’t inextricably tied to HBO, but the contract does mean that HBO will have the first rights to consider producing or distributing Good Thing Going Production’s projects. Although some specifics of the contract, including financial details and the duration of the deal, were not released and HBO did not return a request for comment, the network signing a deal with a high-profile entertainer such as Dunham bodes well for it. Entertainment companies are increasingly on the hunt for exclusive deals, whether they be with popular content creators or hit shows, which helps them stand out in an ever more crowded market

The Dunham-HBO deal is one of several high-profile agreements between creators and entertainment platforms in the last few years. Netflix reportedly inked a deal with “Game of Thrones” creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss in early August. Benioff and Weiss’ “Game of Thrones” was integral to HBO’s massive success in the last few years. Their Netflix deal is allegedly worth as much as $300 million for five years and there are expectations that the duo will work to produce another grandiose series that could entice consumers to subscribe to the streaming service.

Other well-known creative types, including Ryan Murphy and Shonda Rhimes, also signed lucrative deals with Netflix in the last two years. Although Netflix is positioning itself for the future with those aforementioned contracts, the platform is also losing its streaming rights to “Friends” and “The Office” next year, which will find new homes on the upcoming HBO Max and the still-unnamed NBCUniversal streaming service when they launch in 2020.

The departure of those sitcoms is one of many reasons Netflix is doubling down on creating its own original content. Likewise, HBO is feeling the pressure to release more exclusive hits now that “Game of Thrones” has ended. The Dunham deal is part of that strategy, and as exclusivity deals continue to define the industry, it’s likely that HBO and its competitors will continue hustling to secure similar contracts with other creators in the years ahead.

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