UPDATE (Sept. 7, 2017 1:39pm): Disney CEO Bob Iger has announced that the Disney and Star Wars movies will run on their own streaming service after theatrical release. Read on for more.
In May of 2016, Disney struck a deal with Netflix for exclusive U.S. streaming for films under the Disney, Marvel, Pixar, and Lucasfilm brands. In August of this year, we learned that the House of Mouse intends to launch its own streaming service in 2019.
For fans of #Marvel superheroes, the announcement was particularly troubling. Not only are we used to Marvel movies being distributed on Netflix, but the streaming site also has a profitable partnership with Marvel Television. How will this announcement affect the Marvel slate on Netflix?
Marvel Content Will Be Part Of The Disney Streaming Service
To fans' surprise, the initial announcement didn't cover Marvel and Netflix. We soon learned that #Disney was actually considering launching separate streaming services for both Marvel and Star Wars, and shortly thereafter Netflix CCO Ted Sarandos revealed that the streaming service was in active discussions to share the distribution rights for Marvel and Lucasfilm movies after the deal ends in 2019. It took Disney about a month to decide the fate of these brands, and they evidently decided that this approach wouldn't pay off. Disney CEO Bob Iger instead told Deadline that the new streaming site and app would "have the entire output of the studio — animation, live action and Disney including Pixar, Star Wars and all of the Marvel films."
The move contrasts with the approach being taken by Marvel's main rival, DC. DC is intending to launch a new superhero-specific streaming site in 2018, complete with original content such as the Titans series. Instead, Marvel's ever-growing library will simply be absorbed into the overall Disney portfolio. You're talking a service with nearly 500 films, and 7,000 episodes from the TV library.
Viewers in the U.S. are unlikely to appreciate paying out for yet another streaming site, but the idea may well delight international fans. Global distribution of Marvel TV shows has been spotty; in the UK, for example, no distributor has picked up Season 1 of Marvel's Inhumans. The first two episodes have aired at IMAX cinemas, but UK viewers have no idea when they'll be able to watch the rest of the series. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. usually starts airing in the UK months after its U.S. launch, and we don't yet know if other shows like Marvel's Runaways will even reach the country. A dedicated streaming site — one that operates internationally — may well resolve these issues.
How Will This Affect The Netflix Shows
But Netflix doesn't just stream Marvel shows; it actually produces them. The popular streaming site is home to the hugely popular Marvel Netflix series, which launched in 2015 with Daredevil. The first phase of Marvel Netflix recently came to a head in The Defenders, and we're expecting The Punisher to stream in November. It actually looks as though we may get four new series next year!
Here's the good news; that deal is not affected by Disney's decision. As Alisha Grauso wrote for Forbes:
"The move will not affect the Marvel Netflix shows. The waters of the entertainment business can be muddy, and contracts hard to figure out for the average viewer, but rest assured that the Disney theatrical distribution deal and the Marvel Television development deal are two separate things."
The Marvel Netflix shows are Netflix Originals, created — and paid for — by Netflix. Whatever arrangements exist between Marvel and Netflix still stand, and the shows released to date will remain Netflix properties going forward. It's also worth noting that the tone and style of the Marvel Netflix shows, which are typically dark and brutal, really don't fit well with the rest of the Disney library. We're unlikely to see any changes in the relationship between Marvel Television and Netflix.
That doesn't mean, though, that we may not see Marvel pursue new content strategies with the Disney streaming service. The House of Ideas has already proved willing to work with Netflix's competitors; a Runaways series will stream on Hulu in November, while next year Freeform will release Cloak and Dagger. The latest reports from Deadline indicate that Disney is interested in creating original content for their new streaming service. While Marvel will hardly be their first priority, they could easily form another production channel for the remarkably productive Marvel Television.
Right now, Marvel fans can take a deep breath and stop panicking. Disney's current deal won't come to an end until 2019, meaning we'll continue to enjoy our Marvel content on Netflix for at least another year. That will include blockbusters like Thor: Ragnarok, Black Panther, and even Avengers: Infinity War.
In 2019, we'll see a change. But, thankfully, that's really not going to affect the all-important Netflix Originals. The partnership between Marvel Television and Netflix is a completely separate entity, and shouldn't be affected at all by this latest news.
Do you think this new streaming site is a good idea? Let me know in the comments!