USG’s Pearlena Igbokwe talks ‘Russian doll’, ‘regarding’ budgets and risk

Pearlena Igbokwe

Universal Studios Group (USG) President Pearlena Igbokwe has admitted that scripted budget inflation is a “big concern” for the industry, but “profitable” shows can still be just as successful.

Igbokwe told delegates during a keynote session here at the BANFF World Media Festival that there was growing pressure on commissioners which could impact how much shows could bring in, especially for those on the side of the diffusion.

Russian doll

The USG Chairman, who was named USG Chairman in 2020, oversees nearly 130 projects across 20 platforms, ranging from hacks and I have never at Hollywood game night.

Cost vs Return Scenario

She said the four pillars that make up USG — Universal TV, Universal Content Productions (UCP), Universal Alternative Studios and Universal International Studios — all seek “to be as smart and profitable as possible,” but added that the decision “may ‘t be done on the basis of dollars.

She added: “We’re a creative company ultimately and you have to make creative decisions to win, but now it’s with an eye on taking those risks while minimizing our downsides as much as possible.”

Facing shows like Amazon’s next The Lord of the Rings series and the fourth Netflix release strange things, Igbokwe said she was exploring more cost-effective ways to spend the money.

We are lady parts

“Creativity is not necessarily about spending the most money. Game of Thrones was fantastic and worth every penny, but you can also make a Russian doll for less. It is the same for To kill him Where hacks.

Language competition and leaps

Igbokwe said TV faces growing competition from other media, name-checking podcasts and games, with competition forcing creatives to come up with fresh shows.

Part of UCG’s approach, Igbokwe said, is to “bring in storytellers who haven’t had a chance before and talk about people who haven’t been featured before.”

She cited shows such as We are lady partswhich debuted on Channel 4 in the UK and was produced by Working Title Television, part of the international arm of the UCI.

“We all come to TV to be entertained, but we have the power to introduce people who have not normally been in the limelight and present those stories.”

Igbokwe added that non-English language shows are also gaining popularity globally, highlighting the success of Pachinko on AppleTV+. Universal has reached an overall deal with creator Soo Hugh – who spoke to TBI last year.


“We are looking at the local language, it doesn’t have to be an English show to have global appeal now. We have just co-produced our local language version of Hypermarket with dopamine in Mexico,” she added.

“We are leaning towards a more universal and global thought, it is not that a country is at the center of everything. Barriers to non-English language broadcasts are falling.

Anderson Cooper novel

The Universal executive added that her company has also secured the rights to the Vanderbilts book from CNN newsreader Anderson Cooper, with drama in the works to follow the legacy of her family dynasty.

“Patrick McManus will write this and it’s an example of the kinds of big chunks of IP and books we can land because we’re in business with the big people in the industry.”

She added that Vanderbilt will be the “opposite” of another Universal period drama Golden age. “It will be a very different approach,” she added.

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