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Unlike Disney, NBCUniversal and ViacomCBS, Sony notably has not launched a direct-to-consumer streaming service to compete with Netflix. Instead, the studio is cementing its future in a major deal with Netflix.
Sony has inked a multiyear, exclusive first-pay-window licensing deal in the U.S. that will allow Netflix first-pay-window rights to Sony Pictures titles following their theatrical and home entertainment windows, the studio announced Thursday. (The typical pay-one window is 18 months.) Since 2006, Sony’s pay-TV partner has been Lionsgate-owned Starz.
For theatrically released films, the five-year pact will begin with Sony’s 2022 slate, which includes Morbius, Uncharted, Bullet Train and the sequel to the Oscar-winning Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. In the future, it will also cover installments from major Sony franchises like Jumanji and Bad Boys. Sources tell THR that the deal is worth roughly $1 billion to Sony.
Netflix, which has been spending billions to build out a library of its own in anticipation of the launch of studio streaming services, will also have access to a new library of films. The streamer will have the ability to license the rights to select titles from Sony’s library, which includes Columbia’s nearly century-old catalog as well as other studio labels Tri-Star, Sony Pictures Classics and Screen Gems. Netflix and Sony have a pre-existing output deal for Sony Pictures Animation titles, first inked in 2014.
Over the course of the deal, Netflix has also committed to financing a number of titles from the studio’s motion picture group. These will encompass the films that Sony intends to make directly for streaming from inception or decides at a later point to license for streaming.
With the pact, Netflix will have access to a new pipeline of first-run film offerings, including a steady supply of Marvel content, which has been out of reach for the streaming service since the launch of Disney+. Per deal terms, these will include future installments of Spider-Man and Venom. (Venom: Let There Be Carnage and Spider-Man: No Way Home, the next installments in their respective franchises, are both set for 2021 releases so will not be included in the pact.)
“At Sony Pictures, we produce some of the biggest blockbusters and the most creative, original films in the industry. This exciting agreement further demonstrates the importance of that content to our distribution partners as they grow their audiences and deliver the very best in entertainment,” said Keith Le Goy, Sony’s president of worldwide distribution.
Added Netflix film head Scott Stuber: “This [deal] not only allows us to bring [Sony’s] 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.”
This deal comes after the other major studios have drawn their respective lines in the sand as to how they will be handling their theatrical titles, streaming services and VOD.
Warners sent shockwaves through the industry when it announced the entirety of its 2021 movie slate would be available both on HBO Max and in open theaters, day-and-date. Universal struck a deal to have its movies debut on premium video-on-demand services 17 days after theatrical release. And Paramount stated that some of its major theatrical titles including Mission: Impossible 7 and A Quiet Place Part II, will debut on Paramount+ 45 days after their big-screen runs.
The announcement notes that Sony’s theatrical output will “continue at its current volume.”
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