The service shelled out the big bucks for Rock with insiders telling Variety the two-special-deal is worth a whopping $40 million. Amazon, Hulu and HBO — where he has a long history with his late-night series “The Chris Rock Show” — were also bidding for the specials.
The Netflix specials marks Rock’s return to stand-up after an eight-year hiatus. Most recently, the comedian hosted the Oscars this year.
“Chris Rock is a beloved actor and director, and his remarkable stand-up makes him comic royalty. There is no one like him, and Netflix offers the global platform and creative freedom that will serve as a perfect home for someone with his incredible talent,” said Ted Sarandos, Netflix chief content officer.
Rock commented, “I’m very excited to be working with Ted and Lisa and all the good people at Netflix. I can’t wait to get back on stage.”
Rock is one of many high-profile comedians who have inked deals with Netflix for stand-up specials. The service has been home to projects from Aziz Ansari, Chelsea Handler, Patton Oswalt, Cedric the Entertainer, Iliza Shlesinger, Jeff Foxworthy and Larry the Cable Guy, Chris Tucker and David Cross, among others.
“Increasingly, Netflix is becoming the preeminent destination for stand-up comedy, partnering with top-tier talent across a wide variety of styles and humor, enabling them to bring their fresh, distinctive and hilarious voices to our members in 190 countries around the world. Our members discover every day that we truly offer something for every comedy fan, and the comedians we partner with understand the power of having a direct line to our ever-growing global audience,” said Lisa Nishimura, Netflix’s VP of original documentary and comedy. Mentioning Oswalt’s Emmy win, she added, “Coming on the heels of our first Emmy win in the category, now is the perfect time to take things to the next level with Chris Rock.”
Rock recently worked with Netflix, making in appearance in Bill Murray’s special, “A Very Murray Christmas.”
Aside from the 2016 Oscars, for which Rock received generally positive reviews, he recently had a guest-starring role on Fox’s “Empire.” He also directed HBO’s comedy special last year, “Amy Schumer: Live at the Apollo.” Rock has won four Emmys, three Grammys and is an Oscar nominee. Some of his most notable credits include “The Chris Rock Show,” his scripted sitcom “Everybody Hates Chris,” which he created and narrated, plus “Saturday Night Live” from 1989 to 1993. On the film side, he starred in “Grown Ups,” Death at a Funeral,” “Head of State” and the “Madagascar” franchise.
Cynthia Littleton contributed to this report.