Rich Klubeck and Dan Erlij, partners at United Talent Agency, are accustomed to Hollywood’s rough and tumble character. They must be in order to advocate for more unique voices and stories on film.

Erlij, co-head of UTA’s television literary department, represents risk-taking talent like ” Succession” writer and showrunner Jesse Armstrong. Klubeck is a partner at the Beverly Hills agency’s motion film group, where clients include Mike White, the creator of “The White Lotus”.

This year, clients of UTA, Hollywood’s third-largest talent agency, have garnered about 60 Primetime and Creative Arts Emmys in approximately 30 categories, as well as nearly 30 Academy Award nominations. One of its clients, comedian Ali Wong, became the first woman of Asian origin to win an Emmy for lead acting in “Beef.”

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However, there are hurdles ahead. Studios, including Paramount Global, are cutting off hundreds of employees, cancelling nearly completed projects, and becoming more cautious. All the more incentive for agents to have their clients’ backs.

“I wouldn’t paint a rosy picture of the exact market we’re in right now, but things are still selling,” he said. “You can still cut through the noise.”

The two agents spoke with the Times earlier this month. This conversation was edited for brevity and clarity.

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Q: How has the market fared following last year’s simultaneous Hollywood strikes? What are studios looking to buy?

Erlij: On the television side, the market is currently taking a more conservative stance. People are looking for what they regard as commercially appealing, escapist, and enjoyable content. Some successful concerts in the last six months have contributed to this outlook. Things like “Hijack,” an Apple TV+ thriller, and the “Reacher” series, which has been successful for Amazon.

There’s a real competition for eyeballs right now, and it’s been unusual. Buyers are less willing to take chances than before the strike. I believe it will just be a temporary situation. If everyone is looking for the same thing, there will eventually be a saturation of those kind of programs, and the audience will seek something new.

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We are committed to supporting our clients’ artistic visions. Of course, we’ll inform them what the market is telling us, but we don’t want them to simply be followers. We want them to be able to pursue their true ambitions.

Klubeck: There are commonalities on the film side. I wouldn’t say it’s nearly as dramatic, but there’s a sense that purchasers are seeking for material that they believe will be globally relevant or have an immediate broad appeal. That’s the starting point.

There is still a huge demand for original artists with original voices, artists who have done work with a strong point of view, and who set a unique aim and hit it.

Q: Actors have expressed concern that studios are becoming less willing to take risks on fresh tales. For example, Issa Rae has stated that black shows are being canceled and becoming less of a focus. How does this match up with what you’re seeing?

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Erlij: We went through a period in this country after George Floyd in which the emphasis was quite great on that. Unfortunately, this community has a limited attention span. Things happen, they become focused on a strike, then on other topics, and I can absolutely see that there is less of a focus than a few years before.

I believe there is still genuine intent and desire for representation, and all of the executives I’ve spoken with are still discussing it. I believe it’s to a lesser extent, and the idea of being concerned with profitability and safety influences those decisions. But I don’t think we’ll ever go back to where we were before George Floyd and the way people think about the idea.

The globalization of television, as well as audiences’ propensity to watch TV series in their native languages with subtitles, will continue.

Klubeck: There’s a lot of emphasis on figuring out what works, like what can really galvanize an audience. I believe that the diversity of viewpoints and their visibility are important components of this. This is how bigger audiences are reached.

Q: What is the business impact of UTA clients’ recent awards season success?

Erlij: A lot of the victories, whether it’s “The White Lotus,” “Beef,” or “Succession,” are really defined by people who have an incredible point of view that is their own, and they’re creating a world that people haven’t seen before. What has resonated in a marketplace with so many shows is the power of the author’s vision, because all of these series are commercially successful. For an agency that has built its reputation on representing talented artists, this confirms that we are on the right track.

Q: What variables do filmmakers consider when deciding whether to work with a streaming service like Netflix or a traditional theatrical distributor?

Klubeck: There was a moment when there was a binary choice: streaming or theatrical, with different economics. Today, the streaming vs theatrical market is far more convoluted. It’s far more varied.

Apple has teamed with studios to create its own theatrical, and Amazon is doing the same.Traditional studios and streamers continue to have distinct differences, but they are no longer mutually exclusive. It basically boils down to the filmmaker’s and the project’s individual needs.

Erlij: We represent the director (and co-writer) Will Gluck in a film like “Anyone But You,” which was purposely released in theaters. It has become a sleeper hit. It has spread through word of mouth in a way that if it had been dropped on a streamer, it would not have had the same impact.

Klubeck: It’s strange to be relying on theatrical success as the primary driver of a film’s life. It has downstream success in all ancillary areas, and there is a big potential to a film like that. This is unique to theatrical releases.

Q: What if it had been on a streaming service?

Klubeck: I believe you would still have had a large audience for it. Of sure, it would have resonated in the culture, but it would not have provided the same kind of social experience as a theatrical release, where both the quality of the film and the enjoyment of the film itself contribute to the collective experience.

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Erlij: Just from an economic standpoint, the sale to streaming would have ensured a certain premium, but it would have been limited. Right now, because this has been a hit and was designed at a specific price, the participants’ upside will be far greater.

Q: What kinds of movies should be released first on streaming services rather than theaters?

Klubeck: There are certain areas where you can see the benefits, such as documentaries. We recently sold Will Ferrell’s Sundance Film Festival blockbuster “Will and Harper” to Netflix. While that film could have done well in theaters, there’s no denying the reach of a documentary on a streaming service. The same can be true for foreign-language films, with streamers reaching out to audiences in non-English languages.

Erlij: A big-budget movie with a celebrity and original IP, such as “The Grey Man,” may cost between $125 and $150 million. That’s a big bet for a studio to release in theaters. If it fails, they will suffer financially and face a considerably higher risk because it is an innovative idea. Going on a streamer ensures talent their pay day and, allegedly, gets those streamers what they want in terms of getting a known talent in front of a globally appealing type of film. So I believe there’s a safe zone surrounding those higher-budget original films.

Q: How have cost-cutting and studio consolidation impacted your clients and the way you market their projects?

Erlij: That is part of the turbulent waters we are confronting. We’ve observed a lot of situations where your shows that were ordered to series have been removed. Rooms that were ordered were literally shut down on the day they were due to begin, or a few days earlier. It’s just tough. The problem is that you have people coming up with wonderful ideas and putting them together with great stuff, and all you have to do is believe in the product and put it out there.

For the time being, things will be slightly more difficult. We believe that as this consolidation progresses through the economy, the rubber band will snap back and consumers will buy aggressively. So we simply have to steer through this period.

Q: When do you anticipate that moment will occur?

Erlij: That is the million-dollar question. At the beginning of the year, I would have said summer. I assume it will be a little later than that. When it comes to true recuperation, it could take a year or more.