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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 25 June 2018

Netflix buys comics publisher Millarworld to feed films and TV

By acquiring Millarworld, the streaming giant is hedging against the possibility that Disney doesn’t renew its deal and Marvel stops making shows for Netflix. 

Netflix is expanding its stable of popular characters. Mike Blake / Reuters
Netflix is expanding its stable of popular characters. Mike Blake / Reuters

Netflix Inc has announced its first-ever acquisition, snapping up a comic-book publisher and pursuing a strategy that has also been popular with major Hollywood studios for years: superheroes.

Netflix agreed to buy Millarworld, the publisher behind characters and stories like Kingsman and Old Man Logan, for an undisclosed amount, the company said.

Netflix and Millarworld founder Mark Millar will jointly produce films, series and children’s shows based on comic-book characters for the streaming service, while the publisher will continue to make comics under the Netflix label.

Millar, who runs the company with his wife, Lucy, previously developed comics for the Walt Disney Company’s Marvel that inspired the first Avengers film, Captain America: Civil War, and Logan. Netflix, based in Los Gatos, California, already streams popular superhero shows through Marvel, which produces Daredevil and Jessica Jones. Netflix also has the streaming rights to new Marvel films through a larger deal with Disney.

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Once an industry outsider, Netflix has emerged as one of the TV industry’s most powerful forces and is devoting more attention to films as rival media companies increasingly withhold their own content, because the streaming service’s popularity threatens their own TV networks.

By acquiring Millarworld, Netflix is hedging against the possibility that Disney does not renew its deal and Marvel stops making shows for Netflix.

The company has been borrowing to finance the development of films and television shows, along with programmes it licenses from other producers. Netflix is also starting to experiment in consumer products like toys and clothing, so buying up Millarworld’s comic book intellectual property is a good fit.

Hollywood studios including Warner Bros, Sony Pictures and Disney have been mining superhero franchises for years, from DC Comics to Marvel, sometimes with mixed results. Many studios’ well-known series have failed to meet expectations this year and US filmgoers are showing signs of fatigue with superhero sequels.

Still, some fresh characters have proven to be a hit. Wonder Woman, Warner Bros’ fourth episode in the DC Extended Universe series, and Disney’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 both played well at the United States box office.