Netflix has struck a new deal with Sony Pictures Entertainment to stream all the studio’s new movies starting with films theatrically released in 2022, the companies said Thursday, which includes popular franchises like Jumanji, the Spider-Man films linked narratively to Marvel’s blockbusters and Morbius, a spinoff from that Spider-Man universe. The films will be available to stream in what’s known as a pay-one window, after they’ve already finished their runs in cinemas and have been available for home viewing like online rentals.
Spider-Man: No Way Home may be one of the last movies that’ll be shown first on TV through Starz, which currently holds the pay-one-window rights to Sony movies. Starz will continue to be the first place on TV to watch any Sony movies released theatrically this year — currently, that includes the third in the trilogy of films starring Tom Holland as the mild-mannered superhero. No Way Home is slated for theatrical release Dec. 17. Netflix takes over the rights from Starz starting Jan. 1.
Typically, movies licensed in a pay-one window would be available to watch on a streaming service or TV network about nine months after a film’s theatrical release. But the last year has seen a dramatic collapse of these windows as theforced cinemas around the world to close, decimating the box office market for movies. Studios, distributors and theater chains are now in the throes of figuring how long cinemas will enjoy exclusives on new movies when public health restrictions finally open cinemas widely again. Agreements so far indicate movies will never be released the same way they were before the pandemic.
Netflix and Sony didn’t specify how long after theatrical release their pay-one window would start making movies available to stream.
Netflix already had a deal to stream Sony Pictures Animation’s films, including the sequel to Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse, so now Netflix will be the streaming hub for all Sony Pictures Entertainment film labels and genres, the companies said. The companies noted that the new deal means Netflix will be streaming “several more … films featuring Marvel characters, including future installments of Venom and Spiderman; and expected follow-ups for the Jumanji and Bad Boys franchises.”
The new Netflix deal also includes a provision giving the streaming giant first shot at snapping up any movies Sony decides to make direct-to-streaming titles, in what’s called a first-look agreement. But Sony said it won’t be scaling back the number of movies it releases in cinemas; any direct-to-streaming projects will be additive to a “full theatrical film slate, which will continue at its current volume,” the companies said.
As part of the pact, Netflix will start streaming select titles from Sony’s past movie library next year, the companies said without specifying any titles.
These sort of pay-one deals have been a staple of Hollywood for years, a lucrative way for studios to generate big bucks for their films. But as more major media companies launch their own streaming options to rival Netflix, these deals have become more rare. Disney, for example, allowed its pay-one mega deal with Netflix to elapse the year before it launched Disney Plus, reserving all its own films to make their streaming debuts on its own service instead.