Disney has entered into a major movie license agreement with Sony Pictures for the United States, promising to carry Spider-Man and other Marvel assets to Disney Plus beginning with Sony’s 2022 release schedule. The multi-year agreement, which runs into Sony’s 2026 theatrical slate, also calls for Sony films to appear on Disney’s digital and linear services, rendering it unique in breadth since it includes Disney Plus, Hulu, FX Networks, ABC, Disney Channels, and Freeform. It also contains a large selection of library titles that will be distributed through different channels. Beginning in June, Hulu will have access to “a huge number” of library titles, according to Disney.
The arrangement follows Sony’s output agreement with Netflix for titles in the lucrative post-theatrical release Pay 1 slot. The Disney agreement includes future TV windows, which means that the titles will be available on Netflix first, about nine months after the conclusion of a film’s theatrical release. Disney is snatching up the windows traditionally reserved for ad-supported cable and broadcast airings of movies for various channels. The Netflix and Disney agreements are both for the same license term.
Despite the streamers’ worldwide presence, the Disney agreement, like the Netflix agreement, just protects the U.S. region. The complicated arrangement is likely to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars to Sony over the course of the contract, which is expected to last about six years given the time gap for Disney to gain rights to the cinema. For the Netflix and Disney deals together, Sony is estimated to earn almost $3 billion in movie licenses over the course of the agreements.
Chuck Saftler, director of corporate management for ABC, Freeform, FX Networks, and Acquisitions for Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution, and Keith Le Goy, president of worldwide distribution and networks for Sony Pictures Entertainment, negotiated the dynamic contract. The transaction is yet another example of the film industry rewiring its market models to adapt to a modern age of television exhibition and delivery.“This historic multi-year, platform-agnostic agreement guarantees the team at Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution a tremendous amount of flexibility and breadth of programming possibilities to leverage Sony’s rich slate of award-winning action and family films through our direct-to-consumer services and linear channels,” said Chuck Saftler, head of business operations for ABC, Freeform, FX, and NBCUniversal. “This is a victory for viewers, who can gain access to the best entertainment from two of Hollywood’s most prolific studios through a variety of streaming channels and experiences.”
Le Goy called the contract “groundbreaking,” as it mirrored the studio’s goal of making its films as broadly distributed as possible.“This ground-breaking deal reaffirms the distinct and lasting importance of our films to filmgoers and the channels and networks that support them,” Le Goy said. “We are delighted to be collaborating with Disney to get our titles to their audiences and subscribers. This partnership solidifies a critical component of our film marketing policy, which is to optimize the appeal of both of our films by making them available to audiences through all windows with a diverse set of main partners.”
Text by: Adrita Roy, IBTN9