James Murdoch Envisages the Rise of Creator-Led Franchises

James Murdoch, former CEO of 21st Century Fox, and founder and CEO of Lupa Systems, is heralding a future that spotlights creator-led franchises.

Delivering the opening keynote speech at the annual APOS conference, Murdoch said that the emergence of massive conglomerates meant that “there is less room for truly original work (and) lots more derivative work,” but with higher budgets, whether it’s in films or series. In this scenario, mid-market genres such as literary adaptations have limited room, Murdoch said.

“I think there is a real question about what the creative output is going to look like within these large conglomerates and what established and talented creators are going to want to do,” Murdoch said. “I feel like there is more value for creators in the future not just in terms of selling for a high price and on a work for hire basis.”

Murdoch said that he foresees new centers of gravity emerging that “really apportion the rewards of their authorship appropriately.”

“I think that creator-led franchises are going to be very powerful going forward. Maybe each one not at the scale of these giants, but very profitable businesses, if they can take a little bit more risk, own their IP, own their creativity and apportion it the right way,” Murdoch said.

Creator ownership is one of the goals of AWA Studios, the comic book company funded by Lightspeed Venture Partners and Lupa, Murdoch said. AWA acts as a conduit for the IP to blossom across different stages of the entertainment value chain.

Murdoch said that author ownership is going to be increasingly common, as more creators “don’t want to sell their work for forever and a day.” He added that in an era of giant streamers, where a secondary syndication market doesn’t exist, there is a danger of a program becoming just “a number in an endless shelf of titles forever. It may be underexploited that way and artists should have a greater say in that.” Murdoch also said that there was bound to be conflict, with creators being shut out of those systems in some cases.

Lupa has offices in New York and Mumbai. Addressing the Indian market, Murdoch said that while some multinationals may be frustrated by bureaucracy or having the wrong local partners, ultimately India is a “market place that is transparent, not very top-down, but driven by ideas and entrepreneurs and a consumer economy that is going to grow for a long time.”

Murdoch was in conversation with Vivek Couto, executive director & co-founder, Media Partners Asia, organizer of APOS.



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