LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Netflix is in “active discussions” with Walt Disney Co about keeping Marvel and “Star Wars” films after 2019, when new Disney and Pixar movies will stop appearing on the streaming service, a senior executive said late on Thursday.
Disney announced last Tuesday that it was pulling new Disney and Pixar films from Netflix, starting with new releases in 2019. It will start putting the movies on a new Disney-branded online service that year.
Disney chief executive officer Bob Iger told analysts the company had not yet decided where it would distribute superhero films from Marvel Studios and movies from “Star Wars” producer Lucasfilm, which the company owns, at that time.
Netflix is still in discussions with Disney about retaining rights to stream Marvel and Lucasfilm releases after 2019, Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos told Reuters.
Shares of Netflix were up 1.3% at $171.41 in afternoon trading after falling 5% in the two days following Disney’s announcement.
A Disney spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Iger said on Tuesday that the Marvel and Lucasfilm movies could go to Netflix or another streaming service after 2019, or Disney might retain the rights for itself.
Sarandos said he expected Disney’s service to be “complementary” to Netflix, which carries other family-friendly programming such as animated movies from “Despicable Me” creator Illumination Entertainment and “Shrek” producer Dreamworks Animation.
Disney’s plan to stream its content directly to consumers is “a natural evolution” for traditional media companies that Netflix expected, Sarandos said in an interview at an event to celebrate Emmy nominations for his company’s drama, “The Crown.”
“That’s why we got into the originals business five years ago, anticipating it may be not as easy a conversation with studios and networks” to license their content, he added.
Disney’s break from Netflix applies only to its film deal in the United States, where the streaming service runs new Disney movies shortly after they leave theaters.
(Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Lisa Von Ahn)