Chris Rock Sets Comedian Record With $40M for Two Netflix Specials

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Chris Rock is making his return to television as a stand-up comic, and he's being paid a king's ransom for his efforts.  After an eight-year absence, the multiple Emmy-winning comedian has signed a massive pact with Netflix for two stand-up specials, The Hollywood Reporter has learned. Sources say Rock has secured a whopping $40 million for the specials, which sets a new high mark for a stand-up comic. The $20 million per special is believed to be more than such A-list comedians as Louis C.K., Jerry Seinfeld and Amy Schumer have commanded.

The first Rock show will tape in 2017 and follow a new world tour that is currently being planned. It's unclear when either that first show will air or when the second will tape and be rolled out.  Given Rock's recent Emmy nomination for directing HBO's Schumer special, the deal at Netflix should be considered a big win for the streaming giant, which landed the in-demand comedian's specials following a multiple-network bidding war. The move also is a blow to HBO, where in addition to the Schumer special, Rock has had a 20-year history with the premium cable network that previously aired specials including Bigger & Blacker and Never Scared as well as his talk show The Chris Rock Show

"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,” Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos said Thursday in a statement.  The specials mark a return to the stage for Rock, who most recently returned to the spotlight to host the Oscars with a well-reviewed performance. In the past year, he also directed the Schumer special and guest-starred on Fox's Empire.

Netflix's entry into the stand-up space has created a growing arms race to land top talent in an increasingly competitive landscape with featured players Comedy Central, Showtime and HBO, among others.  “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," said Rock.