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It’s official: Netflix has acquired 26 episodes of drama House of Cards, a political thriller starring Kevin Spacey. THR reported the news on Tuesday about the arrangement, which was made official Friday morning.
The hour-long drama project, based on the book and British miniseries of the same name, comes from Media Rights Capital.
The Social Network’s David Fincher will be directing the pilot and executive producing the series along with Eric Roth, Josh Donen and Spacey’s Trigger Street Productions partner Dana Brunetti. Beau Willimon (The Ides of March) wrote the pilot and will also serve as an executive producer.
The internet subscription service, which touts more than 20 million subscribers and has been dubbed Enemy No. 1 in Hollywood, will distribute the series exclusively beginning in late 2012. The announcement comes as the Los Gatos, Ca-based company faces growing competition from streaming services like Amazon, Hulu, and new entry Facebook.
It follows a string of deals with film studios Paramount, Lionsgate and MGM, among others, as well as partnerships with TV networks like NBC and ABC. Netflix also is trying to renegotiate a soon-to-be expired deal with Starz, which the most recent news may throw a kink in as Netflix is seemingly trying to send a message to the industry that it doesn’t need Hollywood quite as much as it once did.
“The gripping, serialized one hour drama has become a very important part of the Netflix experience,” said Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos. “David Fincher’s unique vision, the indelible performances of Kevin Spacey and the original version of House of Cards, all have a big following among our members, giving the series a very good chance of becoming a fan favorite. We are thrilled to be working with this amazing team.”
But purchasing original content that is neither tested nor cheap is an unusual and risky move for Netflix, particularly considering that service can already claim streaming rights to some 8,300 movies and 24,000 TV episodes and has previously brushed off the possibility of such a deal as unlikely. On a fourth quarter analyst call in January, CEO Reed Hastings calmed entertainment industry fears by saying: “It’s certainly possible that we’d compete [for studio content] on an exclusive basis. We’re willing to do that if we have to, but we think it makes more economic sense for us and pay television [providers like HBO] to share windows.”
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