Walt Disney Co. and Sony Pictures Entertainment have announced an expansive content licensing agreement that will bring hundreds of Sony movies, including “Jumanji” and “Spider-Man,” to multiple Disney platforms, including Disney+ and Hulu.
The deal, announced Wednesday, underscores the voracious appetite for content by companies that own streaming services.
Disney, which spent $71.3 billion to acquire the 20th Century Fox film and television studio two years ago for its stockpile of programming, has concluded that it will need even more movies and TV shows to be victorious in the streaming wars. It is turning to one of Hollywood’s leading suppliers to keep up with the demand for programming.
Under the deal, Disney will get access to Sony’s vast library of older films. In addition, Disney will license Sony movies that are released theatrically beginning next year through 2026 — after those films finish their runs in theaters, on home video and during their initial pay-TV window. The Burbank entertainment giant will have the rights to play the Sony product on its various platforms, including its traditional TV networks — ABC, Freeform, National Geographic and the FX Networks — as well as its streaming services.
The influx of films from Sony should help bolster streaming service Hulu’s catalog of movies.
Sony, which is one of the few Hollywood studios without its own streaming service, has been flexing its muscle in the market as streaming companies frantically search for content from third parties to feed their services.
Earlier this month, Sony announced a separate movie deal with Netflix.
The Culver City studio had fielded interest from several entertainment companies hoping to add Sony movies to their shelves. But in recent months, negotiations heated up with Netflix and then with Disney, according to people familiar with the matter who were not authorized to comment.
The two deals combined are estimated to be worth as much as $3 billion over five years to Sony, one of the knowledgeable people said.
Sony’s arrangement with Netflix also covers its 2022-26 slate of theatrical movies, including the upcoming releases “Morbius,” “Where the Crawdads Sing” and “Bullet Train,” followed by future installments of series including “Venom,” “Spider-Man,” “Jumanji” and “Bad Boys.” Netflix has rights for the first pay-TV window.
That window typically spans about 18 months. After that contractual period concludes, rights to those films will shift to Disney from Netflix.
Netflix also negotiated the right of first refusal to grab any Sony movies that bypass theaters and go straight to streaming.
The newer Sony releases won’t arrive on Disney’s networks and streaming services until late 2023. But starting in June, Disney will pick up rights to some of the older library content, including “Jumanji” and “Hotel Transylvania” and Sony Pictures’ Marvel characters such as Spider-Man.
“This landmark 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 across our direct-to-consumer services and linear channels,” Chuck Saftler, head of business operations for ABC, Freeform, FX Networks and other Disney networks, said in a statement.
The companies declined to release financial terms of the deals.
Movie-output deals have long generated hundreds of millions of dollars a year in revenue for film studios. Premium cable channels have relied on a steady stream of blockbuster Hollywood movies to keep subscribers engaged.
“This groundbreaking agreement reconfirms the unique and enduring value of our movies to film lovers and the platforms and networks that serve them,” Keith Le Goy, Sony’s president of worldwide distribution and networks, said in the statement. “This agreement cements a key piece of our film distribution strategy, which is to maximize the value of each of our films, by making them available to consumers across all windows with a wide range of key partners.”
Staff writer Ryan Faughnder contributed to this report.