Coverage: Netflix gets into the comics business
Netflix just made a deal with the creative mind behind blockbuster movies including Captain America: Civil War and Logan, agreeing Monday to acquire comic book publisher Millarworld.
Danielle Wiener-Bronner of CNNMoney.com had the news:
You may not be familiar with Millarworld, but you’ve likely heard of founder Mark Millar’s work. Before he created Millarworld, Millar wrote a number of comic books for Marvel including Old Man Logan and Civil War, which were brought to the silver screen as the blockbuster hits Logan and Captain America: Civil War. He also authored the comic book series Kick-Ass and Kingsman: The Secret Service, both of which have been turned into successful feature films.
In a statement, Netflix said that it will develop new films, series and shows with Millarworld, and will also draw on Millarworld’s existing portfolio.
Netflix’s investment in original programming has paid off. Last month, the company said it added 5 million subscribers in the June quarter, bringing its total number of subscribers up to about 104 million worldwide.
More than 4 million of those new subscribers came from the international market, where movies like Captain America have been especially successful.
Hayley Tsukayama of The Washington Post reported that other content producers have bought comic book companies:
Netflix’s deal echoes Disney’s $4 billion acquisition of comics giant Marvel in 2009, which launched a cinematic universe that sparked superhero mania at the box office, grossing more than $10 billion.
The streaming giant has seen the appeal of those films firsthand, as it has the rights to stream Disney’s Marvel and Pixar movies.
The announcement comes at a crucial time for Netflix’s original content strategy, particularly after reports that the firm is racking up debt tied to the production of forthcoming seasons of shows and films. Netflix recently announced that it would release 40 movies by the end of the year, more than double the number of movies made last year. While investors cheered the service’s continued growth, some say the firm’s big spending has to hit a payoff soon. Michael Pachter, analyst for Wedbush Securities, said that his math on what Netflix appears to be spending on content, and the money it makes back from its feature films doesn’t look like enough to justify the expense.
Rob Salkowitz of Forbes.com called the purchase a “potent weapon” for Netflix:
Millar chimed in with a post on his Millarworld site, observing that this is “only the third time in history a comic book company purchase has happened on this scale.” The others were the merger of DC Comics and Warner Bros Studios to create Time Warner Entertainment in the late 1960s and Disney’s multi-billion dollar acquisition of Marvel in 2009.
“Millarworld has been bought by the hottest, most exciting entertainment company on the planet,” wrote Millar. “To say this is the best thing that ever happened in our professional lives would be an understatement… Netflix is the future and we couldn’t be more thrilled to sell the business to them and buckle up for all the amazing movies and television shows we plan to do together. This feels like joining the Justice League and I can’t wait to start working with them.”
One notable feature is that two of Millar’s best-known properties, Kingsman and Kick-Ass, are excluded from the Netflix acquisition as they are already subject to separate deals.
The key to the deal can be found in this line of the announcement: “Mark is as close as you can get to a modern day Stan Lee,” said Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos. “We can’t wait to harness the creative power of Millarworld to Netflix and start a new era in global storytelling.”