Historic CAA Deal Is 'a Smart Move,' say Hollywood Insiders

A French billionaire best known for acquiring luxury brands just bought one of Hollywood’s biggest talent agencies. Artémis, the Pinault family's investment company, is procuring a majority stake in Creative Artists Agency.

CAA, which merged with ICM in late June 2022, will now be in the $40 billion portfolio that also contains Gucci, Saint Laurent and the auction house Christie’s.

How did Hollywood react Thursday to one of the key movers and shakers becoming, essentially, another luxury good in an already massive portfolio? Most of the industry offered a measured response.

A smart move for CAA as the strikes batter Hollywood

A common theme among those TheWrap spoke with was that the move was astute or in the company’s self-interest amid the ongoing Hollywood writer and actor labor stoppages.

“It’s a smart move, expanding into luxury brands, considering half of the entertainment industry is currently on strike,” said one high-level studio executive.

“This seems like it’s about continuing to diversify or hedge,” stated one veteran Hollywood producer. “I like it for CAA personally.”

Another insider joked that “at least Salma Hayek [Artémis leader Francois-Henri Pinault‘s wife since 2009] has a job for as long as she wants one.”

The insiders offered a few good-natured references to the new owner of a vaunted talent agency was married to a Hollywood actress.

“When the strikes are settled, I want to know what new projects Salma will be getting,” stated another insider.

All parties who brought her up agreed that the Academy Award-nominated star of “Magic Mike’s Last Dance,” “Frida” and “Desperado” theoretically being in more movies would be a net positive.

François-Henri Pinault and wife Salma Hayek at the Cannes Film Festival Official Dinner on May 21, 2023. (Anthony Ghnassia/Getty Images for Kering)

Still a talent agency

The hope in Hollywood is that the talent agency will continue to operate like a talent agency.

“As long as CAA remains committed to the talent that they represent, I don't see this as a significant change,” noted a veteran writer-director speaking anonymously. “Artémis will have guidelines and benchmarks that the corporation must adhere to or meet. However, the day-to-day running of the talent in the movie business should remain the same. The fashion business and the entertainment business are most definitely simpatico.”

“This is not a surprise at all,” a leading distribution executive told TheWrap. Indeed, this deal has reportedly been in the works at least since this past summer. “What is a surprise is how quickly it got done, in terms of negotiations.”

The distribution exec theorized that this could imply CAA realized they had to hasten the process with the dual WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes impacting their business on a daily basis. But the individual also noted that it means CAA’s getting a new figurehead, saying, “It’s clear we have seen the last two to three years of [Bryan] Lourd being the face of CAA’s public leadership.”

Another example of fashion and Hollywood intermingling

At least one veteran entertainment executive expressed puzzlement that the dominant force in fashion has chosen to enter Hollywood.

“There’s a long-standing marriage between entertainment and fashion, especially as the face of fashion has begun to overlap with the faces of movie stars and professional sports,” said a longtime entertainment executive. “However, I am fascinated that Artémis is exploring a path within Hollywood considering their emphasis elsewhere, amid a dual labor stoppage no less. [But] we don’t yet know their business goals.”

Thus far, the word on the street is a variation of “Trust, but verify.”

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