Unlike Disney, NBCUniversal, and ViacomCBS, Sony notably hasn’t launched a direct-to-consumer streaming service to compete with Netflix. Instead, the studio cements its future in a major deal with Netflix.
Sony has signed a multi-year exclusive license agreement on the first payment window in the United States that will allow Netflix to have the first payment window rights to Sony Pictures titles after their cinema and home entertainment windows, announced Thursday the studio. (The typical one-time payment window is 18 months.) As of 2006, Sony’s pay-TV partner has been Starz, owned by Lionsgate.
For theatrical films, the five-year pact will begin with Sony’s 2022 roster, which includes Morbius, Unexplored, High-speed train and the sequel to the Oscar-winning film Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse. Going forward, it will also cover payouts from major Sony franchises like Jumanji and Bad Boys. Sources tell THR that the deal is worth around $ 1 billion for Sony.
Netflix, which has spent billions to build its own library in anticipation of the launch of studio streaming services, will also have access to a new library of movies. The streamer will have the option to license the rights to select titles from Sony’s library, which includes Columbia’s nearly century-old catalog as well as other studio labels Tri-Star, Sony Pictures Classics and Screen Gems. Netflix and Sony have a pre-existing release agreement for Sony Pictures Animation titles, first signed in 2014.
During the deal, Netflix also pledged to fund a number of titles from the studio’s film group. These will include films that Sony intends to make directly for streaming from the start or decides to license streaming at a later stage.
With the pact, Netflix will have access to a new pipeline of first-run movie offerings, including a steady supply of Marvel content, which has been out of reach for the streaming service since the launch of Disney +. Under the terms of the agreement, these will include future payments of Spider Man and Venom. (Venom: let there be carnage and Spider-Man: No Path Home, the next installments of their respective deductibles, are both scheduled for 2021 and will therefore not be included in the pact.)
“At Sony Pictures, we produce some of the biggest blockbusters and the most creative and original films in the industry. This exciting deal once again demonstrates the importance of this content to our distribution partners as they grow their audiences and deliver the best in entertainment, ”said Keith Le Goy, President of Global Distribution, Sony.
Netflix film director Scott Stuber added, “This [deal] not only allows us to bring [Sony’s] an impressive list of beloved movie franchises and new intellectual property for Netflix in the United States, but it also establishes a new source of first-run movies for Netflix moviegoers around the world.
The deal comes after the other major studios have drawn their respective lines in the sand as to how they will handle their movie titles, streaming services and VOD.
Warners sent shockwaves across the industry when it announced that its entire 2021 movie roster would be available both on HBO Max and in open theaters, day and date. Universal has made a deal for its films to debut on premium video-on-demand services 17 days after theatrical release. And Paramount has said that some of its major theatrical titles, including Mission: Impossible 7 and A Quiet Place, Part II, will debut on Paramount + 45 days after they hit the big screen.
The announcement notes that Sony’s theatrical release “will continue at its current volume.”