The Walt Disney Co. will spend $200 million over three years filming four series based on Marvel’s street heroes characters in New York City for Netflix — the biggest TV or film production commitment in the history of New York State, officials said.
Disney chief Bob Iger and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, at a joint press conference today, announced that Marvel’s landmark live-action television series will film principally in the Big Apple. The production is skedded to yield 60 one-hour episodes, resulting in 400 full-time jobs and 3,000 part-time production jobs.
Filming the Marvel Defenders project in NYC was important to Disney to ensure it was “authentic,” Iger said: “To us, it’s very, very important for us to be in New York.” The state also was “aggressive” in wooing the Mouse House’s business, he said, as New York State was among several localities in the running.
New York State is granting Disney tax credits worth approximately $4 million for the new Marvel series, a source confirmed. Since Cuomo took office in 2011, the administration has undertaken a concerted effort to win business from Hollywood productions.
The Marvel Defenders production will begin filming in NYC in July 2014 starting with the series based on Daredevil, followed by Jessica Jones, Iron Fist and Luke Cage. Each of those characters — less well known than those in Marvel’s Avengers franchise — is set in Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood.
The series is being produced by Marvel Television, in association with ABC Television Studios, exclusively for Netflix. The deal encompasses 13 hourlong episodes per series for each character, plus a miniseries of four to eight episodes with all four of the Defenders heroes. The Defenders series are expected to debut on Netflix sometime in 2015.
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Disney’s Netflix deal for the Marvel series, announced last fall, followed a larger output deal the companies struck in late 2012, which includes exclusive pay-TV window rights for films starting in 2016. Under that pact Netflix will be the exclusive U.S. subscription TV service for first-run movies from Walt Disney Studios, including titles from Disney, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar Animation Studios, Marvel Studios, Disneynature and Lucasfilm.
In a statement, Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos said, “The Defenders are classic New York characters; smart, resourceful and tough enough to always stand up for what’s right. We’re delighted they’re coming to life on their home turf thanks to Governor Cuomo and his team.”
According to Cuomo, over the past three years, New York State’s film development efforts have produced $6 billion in economic activity and 400,000 jobs. “It’s an entirely new business line for the state, if you will,” he said. The Empire State offers up to $400 million in tax credits per year to TV and movie productions.
The financial crisis that began in 2007 made New York State realize it couldn’t rely solely on Wall Street, Cuomo said. “It was a wakeup call,” the governor said. The film biz, he added, originally started a century ago in New York, not California. “They stole the industry from us,” Cuomo said half-jokingly. “This is just its rightful return.”
Iger — a native of Oceanside, N.Y., on Long Island, who started out in the biz at ABC’s Upper West Side studios in 1974 — noted that the Mouse House has contributed some $500 billion to New York’s economy since 2008 and has supported 9,000 jobs. “I’m a proud New Yorker,” said Iger.
Disney held the event at ABC’s “Good Morning America” studios in Times Square. Iger ceremonially presented Cuomo with a framed poster of the Marvel Defenders characters.