Announced by Netflix and The Weinstein Company (TWC) in a joint press release earlier today, streaming subscribers to the Netflix service will soon get access to documentaries, foreign language films and other content from the Weinstein brothers. Under the structure of the deal, Netflix gets exclusive access to these films within one year of the theatrical release. This beats out premium cable providers like HBO and positions Netflix with content that can only be found under the streaming plan. One of the most notable releases included within the deal is the Oscar-nominated film The Artist, a film about the life of a silent movie star as the film industry transitions to talking-pictures.
Other content includes Academy Award-nominated Undefeated, a documentary about an urban high school football team within Memphis, Tennessee as the school attempts to make history by winning its win its first playoff game. Other films include Ralph Fiennes Coriolanus, the Madonna directed W.E., French film The Intouchables and the Kristin Scott Thomas picture Sarah’s Key.
In a statement released by Harvey Weinstein, he stated “With this deal, a company that loves movies, Netflix, joins forces with a company that is built on that same love. It’s exciting that we can offer consumers a supremely convenient way to see the kinds of movies that made us want to be in this business in the first place.”
While the amount of television content on Netflix has only increased over the last six months with deals with the CW and AMC, the Weinstein partnership represents one of the few deals that Netflix has struck in order to replace movie content that vanishes with the dissolution of the Starz agreement that will remove movies from Sony Pictures and Walt Disney Pictures at the end of February 2012. Netflix is also investing in original content for streaming subscribers and recently premiered the series Lilyhammer starring Steve Van Zandt as a New York mobster that’s living under witness protection in Lillehammer, Norway. It’s also going to premiere the David Fincher and Kevin Spacey political thriller House of Cards in 2012 and will start filming the 13 one-hour episodes in Baltimore, Maryland this spring.
With Netflix’s heavy investment in original content like a new season of Arrested Development, the company is in talks with former HBO Films president Colin Callender to head up development of new original shows according to a report from the Los Angeles Times earlier today. Netflix management is looking for Callender to specifically handle production of new mini-series and films. While Callender was at HBO, he handled the John Adams mini-series starring Paul Giamatti n addition to Speilberg’s The Pacific and the Kevin Spacey political film Recount which was about the voting recount process in Florida during the 2000 presidential election between former president George Bush and former vice president Al Gore. In addition, Callender oversaw the theatrical released from HBO Films during his tenure which included American Splendor and My Big Fat Greek Wedding.
Beyond the expiration of the Starz agreement, Netflix will face another problem during September 2012 when an exclusive deal with Epix ends and the company is allowed to license the streaming rights of films from Lionsgate and Paramount Pictures to Netflix competitors like Comcast’s recently announced StreamPix. Netflix is also dealing with competition from Hulu in regards to the creation of original content. Hulu has been aggressive in releasing new content on a weekly basis. While the political drama Battleground has received the most attention lately, licensing exclusive rights to air Canadian science fiction series The Booth at the End and detective drama Endgame as well as the British science fiction drama Misfits has been beneficial for subscribers within the United States.