CAA’s acquisition of ICM Partners, the biggest shakeup in the Hollywood representation space in over a decade, continues a tradition of consolidation in the agency business. CAA and Endeavor both were launched by star agents who left established powerhouses WMA and ICM, respectively. The fastest way to grow is through acquisition or merger. Since size is crucial in the cutthroat agency business, here is how CAA would scale up in different areas if its acquisition of ICM Partners goes through to form a combined company that would continue to carry the CAA name.
Before ICM purchased the Stellar Group in October 2020, their annual billings were estimated to be around $200M, fueled by TV, TV lit and its publishing divisions. Based on that, industry insiders estimate that CAA likely shelled out more than $550M for ICM. ICM has offices in New York, Los Angeles and London, with roughly 400-plus employees. The agency does not have a Nashville or China outpost. CAA has more than 2,000 employees, with regional offices in Nashville, Beijing, Shanghai, Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Geneva, Jacksonville, Las Vegas, Memphis, Miami, Munich, Orlando and Stockholm to go with outposts in New York and London and headquarters in Century City.
CAA will be strengthened above the line, but also below it: While CAA does not have a dedicated below-the-line operations, ICM Partners has a robust department repping talent in the area.
MOTION PICTURE TALENT: CAA already featured the top talent roster in town with clients including Jennifer Aniston, Tom Cruise, Jamie Foxx, Sean Penn, Brad Pitt, Daniel Craig, Chris Hemsworth, Viola Davis, Robert De Niro, Anne Hathaway, Scarlett Johansson, Nicole Kidman, Will Smith, Sylvester Stallone, Kate Winslet, Jessica Chastain, Julia Roberts, Margot Robbie, Reese Witherspoon, Josh Brolin and Ryan Gosling, to name a few from its A-list roster. Up and comers include Anya Taylor-Joy, Vanessa Kirby, Billy Porter, Florence Pugh, Simu Liu, Constance Wu, recent Emmy winner Evan Peters, Ana de Armas and last year’s Emmy winner and Dune/Spider-Man star Zendaya.
In recent years, ICM Partners has not focused as much on movie stars but still features a roster of busy clients that includes Rebecca Ferguson, Samuel L. Jackson, Tatiana Maslany, Steve Martin, Michael Keaton and recent Emmy winner Olivia Colman. The additions also will help CAA’s ability to assemble and populate movie and TV packages which they then sell to distributors and broadcasters for maximum leverage. Recent examples: two Knives Out sequels with Rian Johnson and Daniel Craig selling to Netflix in the $450 million range and the Will Smith-fronted Emancipation, which sold to Apple.
ICM also will bring to CAA several notable working actors including John Cena, Alec Baldwin, Chris Rock, Chris Tucker, Jeff Daniels, John Travolta, Cillian Murphy, Pete Davidson, Christoph Waltz, Sam Neil, Martin Sheen, Topher Grace, Paula Patton, Giancarlo Esposito, Jeff Goldblum, Elijah Wood, Katie Holmes, Patrick Stewart, John Cusack, Christopher Walken, Holly Hunter, Nathan Lane, Michael Caine, Bradley Whitford, Orlando Bloom, Regina Hall, Marcia Gay Harden, Regina King, Kathy Bates, Bill Pullman, Laura Linney, Josh Duhamel, Alfre Woodard, Alan Arkin, Ken Jeong, William Hurt, Goldie Hawn, Melissa Leo, John Turturro, Harvey Keitel, Taye Diggs, Jean Reno, Anthony LaPaglia, Joe Mantegna, Marc Maron, Frank Langella, Ray Romano, Jacki Weaver, James Spader, Ty Burrell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Ellen DeGeneres, Julie Bowen and many more.
MOTION PICTURE DIRECTORS
ICM has William Friedkin, Sofia Coppola, Spike Lee, Tom Hooper, Woody Allen, Lisa Cholodenko, Stephen Frears, David Mamet, Elaine May, Julie Taymor, Rob Reiner, Peter Weir and indies including Mark and Jay Duplass, Jim Jarmusch, and CODA‘s Sian Heder. Along with vets like Brian De Palma, Walter Hill and John Woo and talent on the rise like Brandon Cronenberg, Wallace Wolodarsky & Maya Forbes and Cooper Raiff.
CAA has a stellar roster of filmmakers that includes Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola, Kathryn Bigelow, Ava DuVernay, Denis Villeneuve, Todd Phillips, Rian Johnson, the Russo Brothers, Taika Waititi, James Wan, Olivia Wilde, Paul Thomas Anderson, Matt Reeves, Zack Snyder, Justin Lin and David Leitch. Even with its focus on TV, ICM still has a strong roster of writers and directors who jump from TV to film projects including Dan Trachtenberg, Jenny Lumet and Michelle MacLaren, to name a few.
MOTION PICTURE LIT
ICM Partners is strong on TV showrunners, not that deep in screenwriters. They do have Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic (co-directors of Illumination/Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros. movie), Eric Pearson (scripted Thor Ragnarok, Black Widow and Godzilla vs. Kong), Gary Dauberman (It franchise, Annabelle franchise), Chris Morgan (Fate of the Furious, Hobbs & Shaw), Akela Cooper (Malignant), Oscar nominated scribe Vanessa Taylor (The Shape of Water), Matt Sazama (Morbius), and Matt Robinson (Star Wars: Rogue Squadron). CAA has a robust screenwriter roster that includes Mark L. Smith (The Revenant), Andrea Berloff, Krysty Wilson-Cairns, Glenn Ficarra & John Requa, Tony Gilroy, Mindy Kaling, John Logan, Scott Frank, Chris Terrio, Daniel Casey and Michael Waldon, to name just a few.
Representation of TV writers-showrunners has been one of the strongest areas of ICM Partners since the 2006 acquisition of boutique lit agency Broder Webb Chervin Silbermann. While the lucrative writer-driven packaging fees are going by the wayside after lining Hollywood agency coffers for decades, the current arms race for talent has driven up overall deal prices. Top showrunners are now commanding high-eight or nine-figure pacts, and ICM will bring a roster that features several top earners including Shonda Rhimes, Ted Lasso’s Bill Lawrence, Breaking Bad’s Vince Gilligan, The Good Doctor’s David Shore and The Handmaid’s Tale’s Bruce Miller. They would join CAA’s formidable lineup that includes such A-listers as Ryan Murphy, J.J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman, Kenya Barris, Seth MacFarlane, Lee Daniels, Sam Esmail, Courtney Kemp, the Russo brothers and the Duffer brothers.
Representation of non-scripted creators, showrunners and talent has become an increasingly important part of the agency world, given the boom in recent years. ICM brings together teams behind major network shows such as ABC’s Dancing with the Stars, Fox’s Lego Masters and CBS’ Undercover Boss as well as the likes of Ellen DeGeneres’ A Very Good Production, which is behind Ellen’s Game of Games and Little Big Shots, as well as The Masked Singer and I Can See Your Voice talent Ken Jeong. The agency has also been staffing up on the non-scripted side over the last 18 months, bringing in Brian Speiser from APA and Justin Ongert from WME, alongside Courtny Catzel and Shade Grant, co-heads of its New York non-scripted programming and Michael Kagan, partner and head of international television. The question will be how ICM fits together with CAA’s team, led by Head of Alternative TV Group Alan Braun. The company reps non-scripted heavyweights such as Gordon Ramsay, The Masked Singer host Nick Cannon, American Idol creator Simon Fuller and the creators behind The Amazing Race as well as Emmy winner Rupaul Charles and Big Brother producer Fly on the Wall Entertainment.
The acquisition would create a dominant juggernaut in representation of athletes as it combines CAA — consistently ranked as the Most Valuable Sports Agency by Forbes –with ICM, which was fifth on the list last year following the acquisition of soccer powerhouse Stellar Group. The addition of ICM Stellar Group’s roster of 800+ clients, including some of the top soccer players in the world, would improve the weakest area in CAA’s athlete representation. ICM Stellar was sixth in soccer in 2020, while ranking No.1 in NFL, NBA, second in hockey and fourth in baseball. ICM earlier this year also acquired NFL Agency Select Sports Group whose clients would join CAA’s extensive football portfolio.
Both CAA and ICM have significant rosters of theater clients, as evidenced, for example, by the nominees and winners of last night’s Tony Awards. Among those on the CAA side were playwrights Matthew Lopez, whose The Inheritance won the award for Best Play; Bess Wohl, whose Grand Horizons was a Best Play nominee; and the Pulitzer Prize-winning Katori Hall, Tony-nominated for her book for Tina – The Tina Turner Musical. Kenny Leon was nominated for his direction of the Best Play Revival winner A Solider’s Story. ICM’s roster of Tony nominees included Slave Play author Jeremy O. Harris and such actors as Blair Underwood, Laura Linney, Joaquina Kalukango and John Benjamin Hickey. Of the ICM nominees, two won Tonys last night, both for Moulin Rouge! The Musical: lighting designer Justin Townsend and sound designer Peter Hylenski.
This is the one sector where CAA clearly gains from ICM, much the way that Endeavor did when it swallowed WMA years back. The book division has been almost as important as television in fueling a dominant portion of ICM’s annual $200M billings. ICM Partner Amanda Urban, Partner Esther Newberg, Co-President Sloan Harris are stalwarts in the division. The agency’s notable authors include Kevin Kwan, Walter Isaacson, Cormac McCarthy, Anna Quidlen, Taffy Brodesser-Akner, Lisa Taddeo, Vince Flynn, Bob Iger, Tom Hanks, and Douglas Stuart.
A small, but rapidly growing part of the entertainment world is podcasting and audio. ICM’s podcast business, which is overseen by Caroline Edwards, Director of Podcast Initiatives, has struck recent deals for the likes of John Stamos’ The Grand Scheme: Snatching Sinatra for Wondery and Alan Cummings’ Hot White Heist for Audible and Ariel Ramchandani’s No Place Like Home, about the heist of Dorothy’s iconic ruby slippers, while CAA, which recently named Josh Lindgren as its first official podcast in March has struck deals such as a partnership between Jonathan Glickman’s Glickmania and iHeartMedia for a slate of music-driven podcasts, Ava DuVernay’s partnership with Spotify, a first-look deal with Warner Bros. for Mick Jagger’s Rainy Day Podcasts, a deal between Jordan Peele’s Monkeypaw Productions and Spotify and deals for Jamie Lee Curtis’ Comet Pictures and Paul Feig’s Powderkeg Media. The latter also represents the likes of Gimlet Media and The Ringer.
CAA reps such clients as Justin Bieber, Kanye, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Tim McGraw, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Cardi B. ICM will bring to the mix Khalid, JCole, Lana Del Rey, Migos, Skrillex on the tune side, and Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock and Ellen DeGeneres on the comedy touring side.