‘Succession’ Showrunner Jesse Armstrong’s Company Doubles Profits

Jesse Armstrong’s Various Artists Ltd has posted post-tax profits of £2.6 million ($3.5 million) following the success of “I May Destroy You.”

The profits for the year ending March 2021 are more than double those of the previous year, which amounted to £1.2 million ($1.6 million) according to Various Artist Ltd’s latest financial report, which was filed at the U.K.’s Companies House on Dec. 17.

Armstrong, who is also the showrunner for hit HBO series “Succession,” co-founded Various Artists Ltd in 2017 with his “Peep Show” collaborator Sam Bain and former Channel 4 commissioners Phil Clarke and Roberto Troni. (Various Artists Ltd does not produce “Succession.”)

BBC Studios own a minority stake in the company.

Various Artists Ltd’s year-end financial report credits “I May Destroy You,” which was written by and starred Michaela Coel, as one of the main drivers of the company’s “considerable success to date, relative to the short life of the company.”

“In particular, ‘I May Destroy You’ was one of the most talked about and critically acclaimed television shows in living memory, winning awards including five BAFTAs, three RTS awards and two Emmys,” the report states. “This has positioned the company as a very desirable production partner for both broadcasters and top television talent.”

“I May Destroy You,” which was first broadcast on the BBC and HBO, recounts the story of a woman who reassesses her life after she is sexually assaulted in a nightclub.

Clarke and Troni executive produced the show alongside Coel and the show’s director Sam Miller.

Various Artists Ltd also produce “Dead Pixels,” which is in its second season, and “Sally4Ever” starring Julia Davis.

The report confirms that Various Artists Ltd “retained its entire central team throughout the pandemic, and did not require any support via government loan schemes.”

However, the pandemic continues to affect production, the report admits, which is unsurprising given a considerable percentage of any given project’s budget is allocated to compliance with COVID-19 protocols including rigorous testing procedures. “The COVID-19 pandemic has continued to put pressure on budgets and schedules, and has introduced an element of jeopardy to the normal production process,” the report states.

Accordingly, while Various Artists Ltd’s post-tax profits were up, its total revenues were in fact down by almost £3 million ($4 million).

Revenues for the year ending 31 March 2021 came to £11.8 million ($15.8 million) while the previous year’s, ending March 2020 (which is when the U.K. went into its first pandemic-induced lockdown) was £14.5 million ($19.4 million).

Despite that, production in the U.K. is booming and the company’s directors, which include chief operating officer Greg Allon, head of production Marilyn Bennett and BBC Studios in addition to Armstrong, Bain, Troni and Clarke, have an optimistic outlook.

“The directors see future prospects for Various Artists Ltd as very positive,” the report states. “As 2021/22 commenced, the COVID-19 pandemic continued to have an impact upon the U.K. TV industry, and on the company’s order book. However, the Directors are confident that the Group has strong fundamentals to weather any adverse conditions[.]”

Among the reasons for their optimism, the report cites a closing cash balance of £7.44 million ($10 million), up from £3.82 million ($5.1 million) the previous March and “a compelling slate of potential productions and strong relationships with U.K. and U.S. broadcasters.”