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Netflix acquires comic book publisher Millarworld to develop new content

By
Wade Sheridan and Allen Cone

Aug. 7 (UPI) -- Netflix, the streaming media company, has acquired Millarworld, the comic book publishing imprint from famed comic book writer Mark Millar in the company's first acquisition.

Netflix, which started by distributing DVDs by mail 20 years ago and now provides online content to 104 million members, including the original series Orange Is the New Black and Stranger Things, did not announce Monday the price of the transaction.

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Netflix already has a licensing agreement with Disney, which purchased Marvel Entertainment in 2009. Recode reported the acquisition of Millarworld is smaller than the estimated $300 million a year Netflix pays Disney.

"This is only the third time in history a major comic book company has been purchased at this level," added Millar. "I'm so in love with what Netflix is doing and excited by their plans. Netflix is the future and Millarworld couldn't have a better home."

Millar has developed comic books for Marvel and DC Comics, which was acquired by Warner Bros. in 1968.

"Together, Netflix and Millar will bring Millarworld's portfolio of critically and fan-acclaimed character franchises to life through films, series and kids' shows available exclusively to Netflix members globally. Millarworld will also continue to create and publish new stories and character franchises under the Netflix label," the streaming service said of the deal in a statement.

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Millar has penned a number of popular comic book series including Wanted, Kick-Ass, Kingsman: The Secret Service, Nemesis, Superior and many more including his work with Marvel on projects such as Old Man Logan, Civil War and The Ultimates.

Already a number of Millar properties -- Wanted, Kick-Ass, and Kingsman: The Secret Service -- have been turned into films with the latest, Kingsman: The Golden Circle, due in theaters on Sept. 22.

"As creator and re-inventor of some of the most memorable stories and characters in recent history, ranging from Marvel's The Avengers to Millarworld's Kick-Ass, Kingsman, Wanted and Reborn franchises, Mark is as close as you can get to a modern day Stan Lee," said Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos. "We can't wait to harness the creative power of Millarworld to Netflix and start a new era in global storytelling."

Millar created Millarworld with his wife Lucy Millar 15 years ago.

"Comics have been my passion my entire life. I started working with them as a teenager, and I've never been more excited about where we're going next as Millarworld joins the Netflix team," Millar said in a statement. "These guys are going to take Millarworld to the next level, and I feel like Richard Dreyfuss, wide-eyed and walking around the mothership at the end of Close Encounters when I see their global plans and it's crazy-exciting to be a part of it."

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Wanted, Kick-Ass and Kingsman have grossed nearly $1 billion in ticket sales, according to Netflix.

"The moment Lucy and I walked into Netflix's headquarters in California last Christmas we knew this was where we wanted to be," he said. "Netflix is the future and we couldn't be more thrilled to sell the business to them and buckle up for all the amazing movies and television shows we plan to do together. This feels like joining the Justice League and I can't wait to start working with them."

Netflix released a video on Twitter announcing the deal and showcasing a number of Millar written comic books with the caption, "Dreams were how we got started."

Netflix has added 5.2 million users in its latest quarter -- the most since the second quarter of 2011.

"This is part of a larger strategy of Netflix to bring more resources in-house," analyst Rob Sanderson of MKM Partners told The Wall Street Journal. "The action/comicbook hero genre is an important category of entertainment."

Netflix had net income of $187 million on $8.83 billion in revenue in 2016, according to its financial filing.

Netflix shares, which are up 42 percent this year on Nasdaq, was almost unchanged from Friday, trading at $180.20 in the morning.

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