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Sonic the Hedgehog co-creator Dmitri Johnson has teamed up with John Wick writer/creator Derek Kolstad to form the new media company Story Kitchen.
Johnson is the founder of dj2 Entertainment, which specialized in taking beloved game franchises to broader entertainment with the successful Sonic the Hedgehog movies as well as Tomb Raider: The Animated Series for Netflix.
In other words, we can expect to see more video game franchises turned into movies, which is the big Hollywood trend now and is the opposite of what used to happen where movies were turned into games. I think of this as reverse transmedia, and it’s a reflection of how game audiences have grown. Both Kolstad and Johnson have spoken about this at our previous GamesBeat Summit events. I asked Johnson if this means he will still adapt video games to movies and TV shows.
“Absolutely! If anything, we’ll be tripling down on adaptations. We already have some unannounced adaptations in the works, so we couldn’t be more excited,” Johnson said in an email.
The partners said in a statement, “After having spent the last several years working together and admiring one another’s storytelling chops, energy, taste, and ideas, we collectively came to the same conclusion: That the only way to double down on cooking up the most amazing Franchises and Worlds possible – was for us to unite as one.”
We’ve seen a lot of this happening lately, with the Uncharted movie from Sony, based on the Uncharted game series, and the upcoming TV series that HBO is touting about The Last of Us video game from Sony. This is the usual transmedia strategy, except in reverse, as it has been focused on movies to games in the past.
dj2 Entertainment will continue its “first-look” rights agreement with Amazon Studios, the studio that made the Amazon Prime show The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power streaming series. That means that Amazon Studios gets first dibs on adapting dj2 Entertainment’s concepts into movies or video series.
Mike Goldberg, an agent and formerly an APA Partner, will also join as a cofounder for Story Kitchen. Story Kitchen will be a new “franchise-building media company.” It will focus on the creation and amplification of “world-building action” and non-traditional intellectual properties.
“If all the world’s a stage, Story Kitchen aims to be the Shakespearean leader in Gun-Fu, Popcorn-Fu and Controller-Fu,” the company said.
dj2 recently struck a strategic video game-to-producer first-look with Swedish video game publisher, Raw Fury, to assist them in adapting their vast interactive catalog into television and film. Raw Fury is the prolific publisher behind such games as Norco and the indie hit Sable.
Dan Jevons, Tim Stevenson and Howard Bliss, previously of dj2, will be joining the new company in senior leadership roles.
Kolstad is considered one of Hollywood’s top action writers as the writer of John Wick, which is now in post-production for its fourth film. Kolstad also helped Ubisoft adapt Splinter Cell for a Netflix television show. He worked on an upcoming sequel to the Nobody movie, and he was the producer on The Princess. Kolstad is working on building several other unannounced creative universes…with more to be revealed later this year.
Johnson created dj2 Entertainment as a production company that adapted video games into television and film. That company is working on a film adaptation of Hazelight’s It Takes Two video game as well as Life is Strange. Goldberg spent nine years at APA as an entertainment agent and partner. Story Kitchen will be repped by APA and Mike Goldberg’s clients are expected to remain at APA.
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