CAA Finally Clears Acquisition of ICM—And Lays Off 105 People

'Jerry Maguire'Credit: Sony Pictures Releasing
CAA and ICM are now one very large agency. 

Late last year, CAA and ICM announced they would merge. Now, the paperwork has gone through, and the two powerhouse agencies are one. Combined assets put them around $5 billion, with CAA paying $750 million to acquire ICM.

As the dust settles on this merger, at least 105 people have been laid off. Most were cited as redundancies, with CAA already covering many of the areas ICM has covered. An undisclosed number of employees left ICM to produce, to be managers, and for other agencies. 

CAA’s Co-Chairmen Kevin Huvane, Bryan Lourd, and Richard Lovett said in a statement:

“Today marks a new chapter in the history of our company, positioning us better than ever to deliver extraordinary opportunities for many of the world’s preeminent artists, athletes, thought leaders, brands, and organizations in entertainment, sports, and culture. We are thrilled to welcome our new ICM colleagues to CAA, and look forward to combining their expertise, relationships, and resources with those of our agents and executives around the world. Our diverse range of clients who entertain and inspire large global audiences have never been in more demand, nor have their opportunities been greater. With today’s addition of our new colleagues, the scope of possibilities for helping clients achieve their goals is limitless.”

ICM’s Chris Silbermann and Ted Chervin said in a written statement:

“Combining with the best-in-class agency to build an even greater representation company for our clients and our colleagues is the core strategic reason for this move. We couldn’t be more enthusiastic about our future together, and are energized by the sophisticated, forward-thinking representation we offer clients. This is the ideal next step for our companies.”

What does this mean for filmmakers? 

This merger is about so much more than film and television. It's about sports clients, music, influencers, and capturing a market share that keeps CAA atop the agency rankings.

There are also a ton of complicated behind-the-scenes matters, like the competition WME trying to go public, and the entire town shifting toward streaming, surviving a pandemic, and an array of other money-making ventures.

ICM also has a massive publishing house, which means more intellectual property for CAA clients. IP is driving most of Hollywood now, so this is a real coup. ICM also has a very strong TV lit department, so CAA will now represent some of the biggest showrunners in the business. 

As we've noted in the past, there is a lot of giving and taking here. Certainly, when there's a merger, only top clients get actively pursued to go. They want to bring their highest earners, and there will be some pressure to drop lower earners from rosters. Aside from that, we're seeing a drop in the number of agents who are working at a big place, which might affect just how many people can have their ideas packaged and produced. 

But the bright side is that there may be an uptick in managers, thanks to people not wanting to work at a mega-agency. Many newer writers and directors want to be represented by a manager to help foster them in the early days of their careers. 

Still, I think this is a moment to be wary. Big agencies like this are not in the business of breaking new voices into the world. They're here to support the people who already make them tons of money. 

This is a situation we will have to keep an eye on for a long time. 

Let us know your thoughts in the comments.       

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