Netflix US culls Epix films, signs exclusive deal with Disney

1 Sep 2015

Netflix has chosen not to renew its US deal with film distributor Epix, meaning the loss of some major blockbuster titles.

The deal, which comes to a close at the end of this month, gave Netflix rights to stream titles such as The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Transformers: Age of Extinction and World War Z.

The move to terminate ties with the distributor comes as Netflix renews its focus on exclusive, original content.

“Studio licensing practices mean it often takes more than a year before consumers can watch a theatrically-released movie when and how they want,” said Netflix’s chief content officer Ted Sarandos, in a statement released on the US & Canada blog.

“Just like we’ve changed the game for TV watchers by releasing entire seasons around the world at the same time, we have begun making movies that will premiere on Netflix globally and, in some cases, simultaneously in theatres.”

As Sarandos highlighted here, Netflix has already enjoyed huge success with original series content.

Orange is the New Black has an immense following, and has been nominated for award after award. The recent Sense8 was addictive, compulsive viewing, and the involvement of the Wachowskis somewhat of a coup. Daredevil effectively washed away all bad memories of the 2003 movie starring Ben Affleck. Narcos, released this past Friday (28 August), has been getting rave reviews.

In fact, at the 2015 Emmys, Netflix received a whopping 34 nominations for original content, yards ahead of rival Amazon, which received a comparatively paltry 12.

Given the successes of Netflix’s series, it’s no wonder that the streaming service is interested in moving towards a similar model for movie content, and the company clearly has the chops to create immensely watchable fare.

Upcoming projects will feature guest stars and directors like Brad Pitt, Judd Apatow, Angelina Jolie and Sofia Coppola.

In October, Netflix will be releasing Beasts of No Nation, directed by True Detective’s Cary Fukunaga and starring Idris Elba.

December will see the release of A Very Murray Christmas, starring the eponymous Bill Murray, under the direction of Sofia Coppola.

But the question still remains, is it a mistake for Netflix to focus solely on original content, without having the cushion of established franchises to fall back on?

The answer: it won’t be.

“Through our original films and some innovative licensing arrangements with the movie studios, we are aiming to build a better movie experience for you,” reads the statement from Sarandos.

In addition to that focus on original content, Netflix has signed an exclusive deal with the Walt Disney Company, making them the exclusive US pay-TV home of the latest theatrical releases from Pixar, Lucasfilm and Marvel.

“The majority of these films will arrive on Netflix faster than traditional arrangements had previously allowed,” said Sarandos.

I don’t know about you, but to me that seems like a better deal than more Transformers movies.

It remains to be seen if these new deals in the US will carry over to Irish subscribers.

Main image via Shutterstock

Kirsty Tobin was careers editor at Silicon Republic