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Ari Emanuel, COSM 2021: Movie Nite’s Changed; It’s Not Just COVID

How are both streaming services and the global pandemic changing the way we watch movies?

The movie-going experience was already changing before the COVID-19 shutdowns of 2020, due to streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. But the global pandemic may be changing how we watch movies forever.

“The pandemic has changed everything, and that will be reflected on screen,” writes HuffPost. Headlines have roundly been indicating the same. From Quartz: “Coronavirus is pushing an already vulnerable film industry closer to the edge.” From FEE: “To Survive COVID-19, Movie Theaters Will Have to Change.”

What will that change look like?

Hollywood maven Ari Emanuel will be at COSM 2021 this November to explore that question.

Ari Emanuel

Emanuel is a businessman and super-agent (having represented names like Oprah Winfrey, Martin Scorsese, and even Donald Trump). He is the CEO of Endeavor, an entertainment and media agency he founded in 1995.

Earlier this year, The New Yorker published an in-depth look into his fascinating life and career. Here’s an excerpt explaining his path to Hollywood and the founding of Endeavor:

After graduating from Macalester College, in 1983, Emanuel briefly played professional racquetball, and then got a job working for Robert Lantz, a New York talent agent. But he had always told his family that he wanted to make a fortune, and he began to think about Hollywood. Emanuel told me, “I read this article about Mike Ovitz,” who was then the head of Creative Artists Agency and the dominant agent in Hollywood….In 1987, he left for Hollywood and became a trainee at C.A.A.

In 1993, Emanuel and his best friend, Tom Strickler, began talking about starting their own agency. They’d worked together in the mail room at C.A.A. and then at InterTalent, before moving to International Creative Management.

On March 29, 1995 — Emanuel’s thirty-fourth birthday — he and Strickler started Endeavor, along with two colleagues from I.C.M. Their office, in Los Angeles, occupied a floor above an Islands restaurant on Olympic Boulevard; the smell of cheeseburgers wafted in every afternoon. Five years later, Endeavor had more than a hundred employees and a sleek office in Beverly Hills.

Connie Bruck, “Ari Emanuel Takes on the World,” at The New Yorker

Brian Grazer, producer of “Friday Night Lights” and the Academy Award-winning film “A Beautiful Mind” said of Emanuel, “There’s a pervasive atmosphere of fear in Hollywood that seemed to have no effect on him.” And Michael Lynton, former CEO of Sony, called him “a force of will.”

Jules Urbach
George Gilder

Emanuel’s drive isn’t confined to the world of movie talent and agency, however. Technological change has also grabbed his attention, and he’s already rubbed shoulders with at least two other COSM 2021 attendees: George Gilder and Jules Urbach.

Emanuel had been obsessively interested in technological change since the nineties, when he read “Life After Television,” a book by George Gilder, which predicted the revolution in digital media. He called Gilder and befriended him, as he widened his search for knowledge and connections. One night in 2004, he knocked on the door of a house in Sherman Oaks, looking for Jules Urbach, a thirty-year-old who was developing software that might transform online gaming. Urbach took Emanuel upstairs to a makeshift office and started showing him code. “Five hours later, Ari was still there,” Urbach told me. “I laid out my plan for everything I wanted to do, and he said, ‘I want to have some sort of involvement in technology—I just feel it’s important.’ ” Urbach told him that he needed two years.

Emanuel kept calling, and two years later Urbach was ready. At Emanuel’s request, Gilder met with him, and reported back that he was impressed. Emanuel asked him to raise money for Urbach’s company. “Ari couldn’t keep up with Jules, but he understood it well enough,” Gilder said. “He has real animal intuition about it.”

Connie Bruck, “Ari Emanuel Takes on the World,” at The New Yorker

COSM 2021 will be taking place November 10-12, 2021 in Bellevue, Washington, where some of the brightest minds in business, economics, and technology will together envision the future. Register now to reserve your spot. Best deal is before October 31.

Update: Session Video

Caitlin Bassett

Caitlin Bassett was a Policy Analyst and Communications Liaison for the Center for Science & Culture and the Center on Wealth & Poverty. Her main areas of focus are in Big Tech and its impact on human freedom, as well as homelessness and mental illness. In her free time, she enjoys delving into Lewis and Tolkien, cosmology, and running around historical sites on the East Coast. She graduated from Liberty University in 2017 with her Bachelor’s in Politics and Policy.

Ari Emanuel, COSM 2021: Movie Nite’s Changed; It’s Not Just COVID