In November, Walt Disney (NYSE: DIS) and Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) announced an unprecedented deal to create four original TV series and a mini-series based on four popular Marvel Comics characters. And on Friday, this team-up got its first official member. Drew Goddard, most recently of The Cabin in the Woods directorial fame, has been signed to lead the Daredevil series as the showrunner, executive producer, and premiere episode director.
The man without fear returns
The story of a blind New York City attorney by day and superhero crime fighter by night, Daredevil has been a compelling comic book fan favorite for decades. The character has had a decidedly less successful run in live-action form however. Twenty-First Century Fox's (NASDAQ: FOXA) 2003 Daredevil movie was met with mixed fan reaction, while the responses to the 2004 spin-off movie Elektra were mostly negative. But with the Daredevil movie rights having now reverted back to Disney's Marvel Studios, that could all change.
Daredevil will be the first of the five series to hit the Netflix streaming video service in 2015. The 13-episode Daredevil series will be followed by three other 13-episode series featuring Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, and Luke Cage; all culminating in the mini-series crossover event called The Defenders, which will neatly wrap up the four stories.
Needless to say, this is quite an ambitious undertaking by Disney and Netflix. The two companies have committed to a minimum of 52 episodes worth of television -- not including the undetermined length of the mini-series event. As anybody who is even casually familiar with the TV industry knows, a 52-episode commitment to a primetime U.S. scripted television series is practically unheard of.
What Goddard's means to the project
That level of commitment makes it all the more important to come out of the gate swinging. Goddard appears to be the right man to do just that. A self-described Daredevil fan, a writer for numerous long-running cult TV series, and a comic book writer, Goddard is the type of person you want to set the tone for Daredevil, and all the series to come after.
With the Goddard news made official on Friday, this also lends more credence to the rumors that the five Netflix series will take place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe shared by Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Hulk, and other characters. Thus far neither Marvel nor Netflix have confirmed this one way or the other, but Goddard has a great working relationship with Joss Whedon, who has essentially become the universe-runner for all the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies.
The two men have previously worked together on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Alias, the Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, and The Cabin in the Woods. Now that Goddard has presumably rejoined his former boss, co-writer, and colleague on yet another project, it seems much more likely that Netflix's new original series and the $1.5 billion box-office hit movie The Avengers will indeed occupy the same story universe.
Foolish bottom line
2013 has been an amazing year for Disney and Netflix, and the near-future looks just as bright. In 2014, Disney will release two additional Marvel movies -- Captain America: Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy -- followed by the 2015 Marvel releases of Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ant-Man. Soon after, Netflix will similarly be able to benefit from this influx of Marvel titles.
Beginning 2016, Netflix's exclusive deal with Disney will go into effect. Signed in 2012, this $300 million multi-year licencing deal gives Netflix the exclusive U.S. first-run rights to Marvel, Disney, Pixar, and Lucasfilm movies. This is a type of deal typically reserved for premium cable movie channels like HBO or Showtime. With the upcoming releases of these four new Marvel movies, five new Marvel TV series, and Netflix's exclusive first-run Disney movie rights, the next few years should be quite interesting -- and quite profitable -- for all involved.
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