Netflix confirmed that it has entered a deal with Sony Pictures to air all its films starting from 2022 after their cinema run. The company wrote:
“Starting in 2022, Netflix will be the first US streaming home for Sony Pictures films following their theatrical releases. Get ready for UNCHARTED, MORBIUS, BULLET TRAIN & WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING, plus future sequels to VENOM, JUMANJI, BAD BOYS & SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE.”
Starting in 2022, Netflix will be the first US streaming home for Sony Pictures films following their theatrical releases. Get ready for UNCHARTED, MORBIUS, BULLET TRAIN & WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING, plus future sequels to VENOM, JUMANJI, BAD BOYS & SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE
— NetflixFilm (@NetflixFilm) April 8, 2021
The deal gives Netflix the first-look rights of all Sony Pictures direct-to-streaming productions. They get to choose a certain number of titles that they will air and anyone they pass on, Sony can sell to other rivals. There unconfirmed reports that it is a five-year package and it also allows Netflix to distribute older film titles as well.
For Netflix, the deal represents a major win in listing film originals that will hold the attention of its newly acquired 200 million subscribers. Its TV originals such as “Money Heist”, “Bridgerton”, “Lucifer”, “The Crown”, “Sex Education”, and others have been largely successful in recent times.
However, when it comes to film originals, the California-based over-the-top content platform and production company has not been able to compete with its rivals. With Disney providing its Disney+ arm with iconic films and franchises like “Star Wars”, “Pirate of the Caribbeans”, and others, Netflix needed something with a more established following.
The “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” appears to be a good start for the popular streaming site. It has not been disclosed if James Bond films like “Skyfall” and “Spectre” will be part of the deal.
Not to forget that Netflix’s “Bird Box” had also been a hit, yet its success pales when measured against the production content that HBO MAX and Disney+ has to offer.
Sony and Netflix had previously signed a deal to air Sony Pictures Animation titles, and now, they have taken it a step forward.
Following the news of a new deal Scott Stuber, Netflix head of global films said, “Sony Pictures is a great partner and we are thrilled to expand our relationship through this forward-thinking agreement.”
He adds, “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.”
Benefit for Sony Pictures
Formerly known as Columbia Pictures Entertainment Inc., Sony Pictures also reaps benefit from its streaming deal with Netflix. The major one is that it saves the company time and funds that it will have invested into building its own streaming platform.
This has become the major trend in the film industry as giants such as Disney have built Disney+, while Warner has HBO MAX on hand, and Universal/NBC owns the newly launched Peacock streaming service.
Thus, the deal with Netflix automatically gives future Sony Pictures films from 2022 a receptive 200 million subscribers-platform — something the company will struggle to build if it started from scratch.
There had been rumours that “Sony+” was on the way but informed reports have always guessed at an acquisition or deal. Last year October, Sony had been linked with industry-leading anime streaming platform Crunchyroll for a purchase of $957 million. However, this deal stalled because the US Justice Department started an anti-trust review into its implication on other Japanese animation content entering the US.
With the deal faltering and its value increasing to $1.175 billion according to Variety, it makes sense that Sony instead reached out a hand to Netflix. The deal with Crunchyroll is also not totally off the table but the initial buzz around it has died down, as is expected of antitrust investigations that can take six months to conclude.
“A stitch in time”
The deal cannot have come at a better time than this. Streaming platforms are clearly the future of films and while they may never entirely eclipse cinemas, they are great substitutes.
The COVID-19 pandemic showed this to be a fact. With cinemas doors remaining shut down for extended periods, film studios that relied on this industry had to postpone releases for about 12 months or more.
Meanwhile, streaming platforms thrived like flowers blooming in spring. Sony Pictures now has the option that many of its rivals have and an effective one at that. Both companies are yet to announce the financial aspects of the deal, so it is not possible to comment on how it will affect their profit — this will become evident by the end of quarters in 2022.
Sony Pictures is not the only one benefitting from the timing of this deal. Netflix is losing more and more originals as film studios are picking their own platforms over it and terminating contracts.
In 2011, it lost streaming rights to Criterion Collection after the company chose to give those rights to Hulu. The same thing happened in September 2012 when Epix chose to continue sharing its titles with Amazon Prime Video. The trend has continued over the years and this deal with Sony saves them from running out of entertainment for subscribers anytime soon.
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