For the past few months, every studio has been figuring out how to balance theatrical movies with growing streaming services. Warner Bros. has one strategy, Disney another, and Paramount yet another. Now Sony has its own strategy and it’s got the biggest name recognition possible: Netflix.
After a nearly two-year auction, Netflix has secured the rights to stream Sony Pictures’ theatrical films “in the first pay TV window,” according to Variety. This will begin with Sony’s 2022 films and continue for five years. So while 2021 films like Spider-Man: No Way Home, Venom: Let There Be Carnage, and Ghostbusters: Afterlife won’t count, all future films with those characters will. For now, the biggest of those is Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse 2, currently set for release October 7, 2022. Uncharted, Escape Room 2, and Morbius are currently the only other Sony titles announced for 2022 release.
It boils down to this: Sony movies will debut in theaters as they would have in the past. Then, as usual, they’ll show up on DVD/Blu-ray. After that though, they’ll show up exclusively on Netflix. In the past, for Sony movies, this deal was in place with Starz.
There’s no word exactly how much time will pass between a film’s theatrical debut and its Netflix debut, but it’s expected to be shorter than the usual nine-month length Sony films have had in the past. As part of the deal, which reportedly will cost Netflix hundreds of millions of dollars based on how much each film grosses, Netflix also gets exclusive rights to Sony films that are direct-to-streaming.
Oh, and the deal is only in the United States.
Sony already had a deal with Sony for its animated titles (a big reason why the upcoming The Mitchells Vs. The Machines is debuting there), but it now extends to everything, including select back catalog titles.
“Sony Pictures is a great partner and we are thrilled to expand our relationship through this forward-thinking agreement,” Netflix global film head Scott Stuber said in a statement. “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.”
With most other studios relying on their own streaming services for their big theatrical films, Netflix teaming up with Sony feels like two juggernauts teaming up to fend off the new guys.
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