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Disney’s Marvel to Create Live-Action Series for Netflix

7 Nov, 2013 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Deal brings Marvel's flawed heroes of Hell's Kitchen, led by ‘Daredevil,’ to the subscription streaming site in 2015

The Walt Disney Co. Nov. 7 said its Marvel subsidiary will develop four serialized TV programs based on its characters leading to a miniseries programming event in 2015.

The successive series will focus on comic book characters "Daredevil," followed by "Jessica Jones," "Iron Fist" and "Luke Cage," the epic will unfold over multiple years of original programming, taking Netflix subscribers into the gritty world of heroes and villains of Hell's Kitchen, New York. 

Netflix has committed to a minimum of four, 13-episode series and a culminating Marvel's "The Defenders" mini-series event that is aimed at reimagining a “dream team” of self-sacrificing, heroic characters. The series will be produced by Marvel Television in association with ABC Television Studios.

"This deal is unparalleled in its scope and size, and reinforces our commitment to deliver Marvel's brand, content and characters across all platforms of storytelling," said Alan Fine, president of Marvel Entertainment. "This serialized epic expands the narrative possibilities of on-demand television and gives fans the flexibility to immerse themselves how and when they want in what's sure to be a thrilling and engaging adventure."

Netflix CCO Ted Sarandos said the series would follow up on the popularity of Marvel’s feature films such as Iron Man and The Avengers.

"With 'House of Cards' and our other original series, we have pioneered new approaches to storytelling and to global distribution and we're thrilled to be working with Disney and Marvel to take our brand of television to new levels with a creative project of this magnitude,” Sarandos said in a statement.

The new original TV deal follows last year's landmark movie distribution deal through which, beginning with 2016 theatrically released feature films, Netflix will be the exclusive U.S. subscription television service for first-run, live-action and animated movies from the Walt Disney Studios, including Disney, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar Animation Studios, Marvel Studios, Disneynature and Lucasfilm. 

In Disney’s fiscal call, CEO Bob Iger said the agreement underscores SVOD’s increasing importance not for generating incremental revenue, but as a distribution platform for content not necessarily earmarked for theatrical and TV production release.

Iger said the number of Marvel characters dwarfs Disney’s ability to distribute them all theatrically or on its TV networks. He said it “is not possible” to mine all Marvel characters with feature films and TV shows.

“In fact, while these characters are attractive, they are not among the most popular, and they’re characters that we probably were never going to make feature films about,” Iger said, adding that if they become popular on Netflix, they could become feature films. He said there are a number of opportunities for Marvel to increase distribution and revenue, and this is one of them.

The CEO said there was notable interest from third party distributors on new and old platforms for the digital content, but that Netflix won out.

“Netflix is in the business of creating original programming already,” the CEO said. “We saw a scenario where they were only going to continue that. This seemed like a good opportunity for us to provide them with some branded product they haven’t had access to.”



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