The Obamas and their production company Higher Ground Productions are working on lots of exclusive Netflix content over the next few years. Here’s a comprehensive look at all their content released thus far and what’s coming next.
Barack and Michelle Obama both signed a landmark output deal (under the newly created Higher Ground Productions) with Netflix in May 2018 to produce movies, TV series, and documentaries for the streaming service.
The first batch titles were announced as part of a press release from Netflix in February 2021 but there’s been plenty more announced since then.
One title we’ve excluded from the list that also involves Barack Obama is the David Letterman interview on My Next Guest Requires No Introduction and an episode of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.
Released Higher Ground Productions Titles on Netflix
Released on Netflix: August 21st, 2019
Oscar-winning documentary American Factory teamed Higher Ground Productions up with Participant to look into post-industrial Ohio where a Chinese billionaire opened up a new factory and how that operation came to be and how it’s going.
Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution
Released on Netflix: March 25th, 2020
Directed by James Lebrecht and Nicole Newnham, this documentary takes a look at a revolutionary summer camp that was set up for kids with disabilities.
It was an awards magnet scoring eight wins and 27 further nominations with high critical acclaim.
Released on Netflix: May 6th, 2020
This documentary looks into the former First Lady’s book tour which occurred in 2019. The documentary was directed by Nadia Hallgren and went onto score four Primetime Emmy nominations.
Big Mouth Productions produced the documentary alongside Higher Ground Productions.
Waffles + Mochi
Type: TV Series
Netflix Release Date: March 16th, 2021
With Disney+ having The Muppets and HBO Max having Sesame Street, Netflix’s first real stab at the puppet kids genre will be a brand new cooking show produced and starring Michelle Obama alongside two puppets, Waffles and Mochi.
Upcoming Netflix Originals from The Obamas / Higher Ground Productions
All these titles are expected to release “over the next several” years and Netflix stresses each is at “different stages of development.”
Coming to Netflix: June 18th
Higher Ground Productions produces this new Kevin Hart movie alongside Sony Pictures.
Directed by Paul Weitz, the movie is about a father looking to bring up his young daughter as a single father after the shock death of the mother shortly after birth.
We The People
Type: TV Series
Coming to Netflix: July 4th
Arriving on Netflix on independence day in 2021 is this animated short series that looks back throughout US history providing lessons on the basics of rights and citizenship.
Among the musicians involved in the project include Janelle Monáe, H.E.R., Adam Lambert, and Brandi Carlile.
Kenya Barris, who is also working via an output deal for Netflix is also involved in this musical series.
Ada Twist, Scientist
Type: TV Series
Laughing Wild and Wonder Worldwide are teaming up with Higher Ground Productions for a pre-school animated series based on the books by Andrea Beaty and illustrated by David Roberts.
Here’s what the series will be about:“Ada Twist, a young scientist who will explore helping people through scientific discovery, collaboration and friendship.”
Mohsin Hamid’s novel Exit West is set to get adapted into a feature film with Left Handed Films also involved. Riz Ahmed is already attached to the project in both a producer and acting capacity.
Yann Demange and Morten Tyldum will direct with both Anthony and Joe Russo also attached to produce.
Higher Point Productions will be adapting the novel from Angeline Boulley into a YA series about a native teen who is trying to root out the corruption that’s taken hold in her community.
Mickey Fisher is on board to be the showrunner with Wenonah Wilms set to co-write the series.
Great National Parks
With the mass exodus of BBC and Discovery nature programs from Netflix, Great National Parks will go some way to helping bolster Netflix’s lineup in the genre again.
The series will dart around the world looking into the various national parks and wild spaces that exist focusing on the species that occupy them.
Wild Space Productions are working on the project too with James Honeyborne of Blue Planet II also attached.
Hot off the heals of the Oscar-nominated Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, George C. Wolfe will be directing this movie based on the gay civil rights activist Bayard Rustin.
“Science fiction feature film written by Ola Shokunbi, and produced by Kiri Hart and Stephen Feder for Rian Johnson and Ram Bergman’s T Street.”
This feature film will follow the true story of Tenzing Norgay and Sir Edmund Hillary who are famous for being the first men to reach the summit of Mount Everest.
Jennifer Peedom is set to direct.
The Fifth Risk
Type: TV Series
Based on the novel by Michael Lewis (who wrote The Big Short), this series will follow the handover between the Obama administration to the Trump administration. Specifically, it’ll cover the “chaos and mismanagement that ensued in the departments of Energy, Agriculture and Commerce”.
The G Word with Adam Conover
Adam Conover, known for his TruTV series Adam Ruins Everything, will be hosting a brand new comedy spun docu-series looking into the inner workings of the government (the G-word).
Fair Point productions are also involved in the docu-series. Jon Cohen, Adam Conover, Tonia Davis, Jon Wolf, and Hallie Haglund serve as producers.
The Young Wife
Tayarisha Poe who is listed on Variety’s “10 directors to watch list” will direct The Young Wife.
Here’s what you can expect:
“It follows Celestina, 29, on the day of her first wedding. Or not a wedding, exactly, but a party. A party where there’s movement, and Celestina is out of sync. The guests flood in; a storm approaches.”
Coming to Netflix: September 2021
Max Borenstein and Sara Colangelo premiered this movie at the Sundance Festival in January 2020 and will be hitting Netflix around 9/11 in 2021.
Worth follows the behind-the-scenes court battles that occurred to try and help the victims of 9/11.
The movie stars Michael Keaton, Amy Ryan, Stanley Tucci, Tate Donovan, Shunori Ramanathan, Talia Balsam, and Laura Benanti.
Higher Ground Productions picked up the movie for Netflix but was originally produced by MadRiver Productions, Sugar23, Anonymous Content, and Riverstone Pictures.