Netflix in Talks With Disney on Marvel, ‘Star Wars’ Movies for 2019 and Beyond

Captain America: Civil War
Courtesy of Film Frame/Marvel

Netflix isn’t going to get Disney’s “Frozen 2,” but it’s not yet frozen out of potentially getting streaming rights to Lucasfilm’s “Star Wars” franchise and Marvel Entertainment movies.

Netflix remains in “active discussions” with Disney about a deal for Lucasfilm and Marvel titles after the companies’ current movie-output deal expires in 2019, chief content officer Ted Sarandos said in an interview with Reuters.

On Tuesday, Disney said it plans to introduce its own direct-to-consumer Disney-branded subscription VOD service in 2019; it’s also looking to roll out an ESPN over-the-top streaming service in early 2018.

The Disney OTT service will exclusively offer movies from Pixar and Disney studios starting with 2019 releases — so Netflix won’t have those. But Disney has yet to decide whether it will re-up with Netflix for the Marvel and Lucasfilm lines. Those could be bundled into in the Disney-branded service, broken into their own subscription VOD services, or licensed to a third party — whether that’s Netflix, HBO, or another partner.

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Sarandos told Reuters that Disney’s streaming service was a “natural evolution” for media companies and opined that the Mouse House’s OTT offerings will be “complementary” to Netflix. The exec added, “That’s why we got into the originals business five years ago, anticipating [negotiations to license content] may be not as easy a conversation with studios and networks.”

Netflix and Disney inked the licensing pact for the U.S. pay-TV window in 2012, under which Netflix secured streaming rights to the Mouse House’s films starting with 2016 releases. Netflix has had a similar “pay one” agreement for Disney titles in Canada starting with 2015 releases.

Disney’s 2019 theatrical slate includes the second “Frozen” movie, “Toy Story 4” and a live-action version of “The Lion King” from the Disney and Pixar lines.

Shares of Netflix dropped after Disney announced the plans for its direct-to-consumer streaming services and to end the deal with Netflix for Disney and Pixar films. After hitting record highs last month, Netflix’s stock has dropped 7% since Monday.

Separately from the Disney movie pact, Netflix has an extensive, multiyear deal with Marvel for original series based on Marvel’s street-hero characters, including “Daredevil,” “Jessica Jones,” “Luke Cage” and “Iron Fist.”

Pictured above: Marvel’s “Captain America: Civil War,” currently available on Netflix in North America

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  1. Leaving the Marvel and Star Wars portfolios on Netflix would make a lot of sense. As Netflix has done well with both portfolios, and they tend to be geared towards a broader (or at least older) audience to begin with. This new Disney streaming service may be an attempt to re-create the Disney network on a streaming platform. The Disney channel has long been Disney’s direct line to young viewers and their tastes. It would make sense that they would want to find a way to keep this core piece of their business alive and in-house, while allowing their other IPs to grow and function on a separate platform.

  2. GJL says:

    I wonder how many different streaming services people will have to pay for in order to see all the shows they want to watch, before realizing they’re going broke.

    • Leo says:

      Where is the Elon Musk of streaming service bundling?

    • Trygg Erone says:

      I could subscribe to 10 different services, get all of the best programming on demand and still pay less than standard cable these days. Having said that, I subscribe to Netflix, and get Amazon Video for free with my Prime membership and that’s more than enough for me. Disney is crazy if they think I’ll pay a monthly fee to subscribe to their service.

    • And I just don’t see enough must-see content from Disney/Pixar alone without the Lucasfilm and Marvel properties.

    • Truth says:

      Valid point – in a weird way, this may be the only chance/hope for Pay TV services (like cable) to make a comeback. If all of these services fragment with $10 a month plans, it will cost consumers just as much as cable.

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