February 4, 2023

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Games Workshop signs deal with Amazon for Warhammer movies

Nottingham-based Games Workshop is making its way to Hollywood after agreeing to bring its sci-fi universe Warhammer 40,000 to screens in a deal with Amazon.

The company, which makes miniatures for fantasy wargames, will develop films and television programs based on its characters.

Though the connection is conditional on contracts being signed, the tech giant will initiate “certain development activities” such as holding talks with authors, Games Workshop said on Friday. The company’s shares rose 14 percent, but there was no value to the deal.

“Games Workshop has been talking about the potential in TV and film for some time, and Amazon is an ideal partner,” said Peel Hunt analysts.

“There are no numbers at this point and it will take some time for it to appear on screen. Nonetheless, this is important news as it could both provide material royalties and extend the reach of Warhammer,” they added.

Games Workshop shares have rallied sharply during the Covid-19 pandemic amid a general surge in gambling during the lockdown. At its peak, the company was valued at £4bn, almost 10 times its annual turnover.

Although those profits have now largely fallen, the company, which has more than 500 stores worldwide but doesn’t consider itself a retailer, is still worth more than Pets at Home, Halfords and Currys combined at £2.7bn.

The group, which crafts intricate figurines that their followers then use to enact complex battles between the forces of Chaos and the Empire of Mankind, has slowly developed alternative revenue streams from what they refer to as the “Grimdark” of their intellectual property.

Transforming Warhammer’s fantasy worlds into computer games, films and television series will help recruit new players, which Games Workshop sees as crucial to the franchise’s future.

“It is intended that rights to develop the Warhammer 40,000 universe will be granted first,” the company said in a statement about the deal with Amazon.

Games Workshop has not changed its financial guidance for the period through the end of May 2023. Licensing revenue is still relatively small at £28m in the year to May 2022, just under 7 per cent of the total. But they’ve grown quickly, having surged from £11.3m in 2019, and they’re very profitable.

Jefferies’ Andrew Wade, one of a handful of analysts following the company, said he expected the pace of royalties to slow in the coming years, believing that “only a big movie deal would take it another step forward “. “With today’s news, that’s a very real possibility now,” he said.

Superman star Henry Cavill, who has previously spoken about his enthusiasm for Warhammer, confirmed he would star in the productions.

“I’ve loved Warhammer since I was a boy, which makes this moment very special for me,” he said in a statement. “Having the opportunity to guard this cinematic universe from the beginning is a great honor and responsibility.”