Netflix Makes Bold Buy With First Acquisition

Kingsman: The Secret Service Still - H 2015
Jaap Buitendijk

Kingsman: The Secret Service Still - H 2015

"If they want to be a player, they have to own more," one analyst says of the deal to buy Millarworld.

Netflix agreed on Aug. 7 to pay an undisclosed amount to purchase Millarworld, bringing graphic novelist Mark Millar into the fold in a bold move to own more of the superhero movies and TV shows it will make available on its streaming service in the coming years.

Millar is behind Universal’s Wanted, Lionsgate’s Kickass and Fox’s Kingsman: The Secret Service (and an upcoming Chrononauts for Universal), so new and exclusive content based on those properties might be off the table for Netflix for now, but he’s got several more to mine: Super Crooks, American Jesus, Starlight and Huck.

He’s so prolific, in fact, that Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos calls Millar “as close as you can get to a modern-day Stan Lee.” Millar, in fact, worked for eight years at Marvel developing comic books and story arcs for Lee’s Avengers characters.

The deal marks the first time Netflix has acquired a company, but it makes sense in this case, says Michael Pachter of Wedbush Securities.

“It’s an acknowledgement that Netflix is a distributor of other people’s content and if they want to be a player, they have to own more,” says Pachter, who likens the acquisition to Disney’s purchase of Marvel, Pixar and Lucasfilm, though on a much smaller scale.

“When you have an opportunity to buy Millar, you do it. He’s that good. He’s an intellectual property machine,” says Pachter, who nevertheless doesn’t see a more acquisitive Netflix going forward.

“Rather than buy another company, I expect Netflix will just sign more long-term deals with people like Vince Gilligan,” he says. “Netflix would love to discover the next Quentin Tarantino, for example.”