William Morris Endeavor co-CEO Ari Emanuel told the Abu Dhabi Media Summit Tuesday that "Silicon Valley and Hollywood are working together pretty well" and that crowdsourcing would increasingly become an option for content creators.
Right now, "there is actually a great deal of conversation going on," he said, adding that Google has made inroads in notifying and moving down sites in its search results when they get complaints. "They are participating in the process," the agency head said.
In a fireside chat entitled "Hollywood versus Silicon Valley: Let's be friends," the talent agent said that "there is partnership," but there are also areas of disagreement. "I love them - I just don't like them when they are not restricting people who take our content."
"It is actually getting a little bit better," Emanuel also said when asked if he has recently been taking diplomacy lessons after more adversarial comments he made earlier this year, before quipping that he does have a family member in politics, of course - brother Rahm.
Earlier this year, Emanuel had urged tech companies to join Hollywood in fighting piracy. "We need Northern California to figure out how to keep our intellectual property from being stolen," he had said. The uber-agent had said that it was particularly key for Google to join the piracy fight, calling on the online giant to filter out international piracy to help reduce content theft and criticizing it for not doing enough to help Hollywood in its battle against piracy.
After Google advertising executive Susan Wojcicki called Emanuel's comments "misinformed" and emphasized that Google wasn't looking to build a business on piracy, he later suggested that entertainment and technology executives "get in a room with all parties to figure" out the issues surrounding piracy. "This is a larger conversation," he said back then. It’s time for Hollywood, our government and Silicon Valley to step up and collectively resolve this problem."
Asked Tuesday about the piracy fight in international markets, Emanuel said that is a conversation for the majors, studios and big networks, and the U.S. government. "We have had conversations," but it is really a topic for them, he said.
Emanuel also said he "woudn't go into the studio system" these days or into the cable business. But he said cable networks' increasing content spending "is a phantastic development" for his clients, and TV looks great. "I think movies are great right now," he also added.
Emanuel was also asked about the future of broadcast networks. "I love them," he said. "I don't see them going anywhere." He also called them a great business.
Discussing WME’s deal with Silver Lake Partners, which agreed to buy a 31 percent stake in the talent agency, Emanuel said his company has increasingly focused on technology and digital opportunities, which attracted the investor. It is really about bringing together content and technology, he said.
Discussing crowdsourcing as an opportunity, Emanuel cited an estimate that 10 percent of films going to Cannes and Sundance in the future will be crowdsourced. WME has whole group working on that as "there is no place we won't go to help clients," he said. He called equity splits a key challenge that needs to be worked out in this field though. "Its is a viable alternative depending on budget" - in film, TV, online, music and even books, the super agent said.
WME has worked on some crowdsourced projects, some bigger projects are coming down the pipeline, and "we will see how far we can go with them," Emanuel said. But "for large-scale product you can't crowdsource," he emphasized. "That dog don't hunt." The sweet spot so far has been in the budget range below $5 million, he signaled. And he said WME is talking to Facebook and Path about "doing a slightly bigger movie in that space."
The third annual Abu Dhabi Media Summit earlier, which runs through Thursday, in the afternoon featured a keynote appearance by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates about global development under the title "The next road ahead."