Sony Pictures finally made its play in the streaming wars: It’s punting to Netflix. On Thursday, the studio and Netflix announced a multifaceted deal that will give the streamer established franchises like “Spider-Man” and sends a clear signal that there will be no “Sony+” on the horizon
Beginning in 2022, Netflix will be the exclusive home of Sony’s theatrical releases during the Pay One window (aka after movies leave theaters and have been released on DVD). That will include future “Venom” and “Spider-Man” installments as well as “Morbius” and “Bullet Train.”
Sony and Netflix also inked a first-look deal for movies made exclusively for streaming, boosting the slate of Netflix originals. Sony said those films will represent increased output on top of its theatrical slate, which was about 25 films in 2019. The deal also gives Netflix first look at licensing movies from Sony’s library.
“Jumanji” and “Bad Boys” are not Disney’s “Star Wars,” but “Spider-Man” installments should entice subscribers. It represents a major franchise win for Netflix, which bought rights for two “Knives Out” sequels for $469 million.
Netflix recently crossed the 200 million subscriber mark, but faces heated competition from media conglomerates spending billions. As studios brought their own streaming services on line, it also meant nixing deals with Netflix. The Sony deal gives Netflix many of the advantages enjoyed by streamers that draw from the IP of legacy studios and create a closed system for its library content.
The Netflix originals library dates back only to 2015. While hits like “Bird Box” make the most headlines, Netflix’s own data suggests that library content is crucial to keeping viewers happy. Today, three of the service’s top 10 movies in the US are “Legally Blonde” (2001), “Saving Private Ryan” (1998), and “Friends with Benefits” (2011).
Previously, Sony and Netflix had an output deal for Sony Pictures Animation titles.
“Sony Pictures is a great partner and we are thrilled to expand our relationship through this forward-thinking agreement,” said Scott Stuber, Netflix head of global films. “This not only allows us to bring their impressive slate of beloved film franchises and new IP to Netflix in the U.S., but it also establishes a new source of first run films for Netflix movie lovers worldwide.”