Like a couple that decides to go its separate way but where they both want to keep the dog, Netflix says it is talking to Disney about holding on to its deal to continue streaming Marvel and Star Wars movies after the two part ways at the end of 2018.
For those who missed this seismic event in the streaming sphere, earlier this week Disney announced it was ending its deal with Netflix that gave the streaming platform exclusive-ish access to new content from the global entertainment giant. At the same time, Disney announced that it will eventually be launching its own subscription streaming service.
The Disney/Netflix arrangement includes titles from Disney’s namesake flagship studio, along with the wildly successful Marvel movies and shows, and new Star Wars titles. When Disney announced the breakup, the implication was that it was taking this full library away from Netflix, but the company only explicitly mentioned upcoming Disney and Pixar movies that would be affected by the change.
Disney subsequently clarified that its planned streaming service would not include the Marvel and Star Wars films, but that the company hadn’t decided on exactly what it was going to do with them.
Now Netflix content honcho Ted Sarandos tells Reuters that Netflix is having “active discussions” (as opposed to passive chit-chat?) with Disney, looking to retain its access to the Marvel and Star Wars titles. Both of these brands have a number of titles slated to come out in 2019 and beyond that would be affected.
Sarandos tells Reuters that he doesn’t see Disney’s eventual streaming service as a direct competitor, but as something that could be “complementary” to Netflix. After all, while Disney might be the biggest name in animation, it’s far from the only one, so a Disney-only streaming library won’t help when your kids demand you put on Minions 7: The Minioning.
Only a day before the Disney announcement, Netflix revealed that it was purchasing Millarworld, the comics book company behind a handful of hit series, like Kick-Ass and Kingsmen. When the Disney break-up was announced, some industry onlookers concluded that the Millarworld acquisition was a hedge against the eventual loss of Marvel.
Sarandos didn’t explicitly confirm that theory, but he did acknowledge that these ever-shifting, non-permanent deals with Disney and others are one of the reasons that Netflix has spent billions in recent years producing its own shows and movies.
“That’s why we got into the originals business five years ago,” said Sarandos to Reuters, “anticipating it may be not as easy a conversation with studios and networks” to license their content.