Updated 6:45pm ET: According to Deadline.com, during a call with analysts about the company's 3Q earnings, Disney CEO Bob Iger called the four properties in the Netflix deal - Daredevil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, and Iron Fist - “not among the most popular," adding they "were never going to become feature films.”
The online Hollywood trade goes on to report Iger said that could change if the shows catch on with viewers, making the deal “great for Netflix” and opening “a great opportunity for Marvel to create more brand value…There are more opportunities beyond our platform to produce product for.”
Original story: Marvel TV just got a whole lot more interesting. Announced on Marvel.com Thursday morning, Marvel TV is teaming up with Netflix for an unprecedented deal: four live-action TV series, plus a mini-series "programming event."
The companies will team on four thirteen-episode series, plus one mini-series. The four series are Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, and Luke Cage, culminating in an Avengers-style team-up mini-series called The Defenders.
The series will take place in New York's Hell's Kitchen, long the home of Daredevil and other "street-level" characters that the press release cals "flawed heroes." It also notes that the deal is for a "minimum" (emphasis ours) of four series and a mini-series, leaving the door open for more if any/all of them take off.
Marvel Television and ABC Television Studios are producing the shows.
"This deal is unparalleled in its scope and size, and reinforces our commitment to deliver Marvel's brand, content and characters across all platforms of storytelling. Netflix offers an incredible platform for the kind of rich storytelling that is Marvel’s specialty," said Alan Fine, President of Marvel Entertainment in the press release. "This serialized epic expands the narrative possibilities of on-demand television and gives fans the flexibility to immerse themselves how and when they want in what's sure to be a thrilling and engaging adventure."
Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos added, "We're thrilled to be working with Disney and Marvel to take our brand of television to new levels with a creative project of this magnitude."
The series will begin in 2015. In 2016, Netflix will become the exclusive US subscription service for first-run, live-action, and animated movies from all branches of Walt Disney Studios: Disney, Disney Animation Studios, Pixar, Marvel Studios, Disneynature, and Lucasfilm.
Marvel Studios received the rights to Daredevil back from Fox late 2012, something that went unconfirmed until president Kevin Feige told Newsarama as a certainty in the Spring of 2013. They have been coy about plans for the character until now. The Avengers approach of giving characters solo starring roles then teaming them together has never before been attempted in any serialized video medium - but then, it hadn't been done before in film either, and resulted in Marvel Studios having back-to-back billion dollar plus films, and carrying the records for the #1 and #2 best opening weekends in film history.
Netflix opened the door to exclusive television programming when they produced House of Cards, a Kevin Spacey-led political drama based off the series of the same name from the UK. They also teamed up to produce and distribute a new season of Arrested Development, reviving the fan-favorite series after several years off the air, and have since launched several other series exclusive to their service. The seasons, so far, have been released in full on their launch date, meaning people can then "binge watch," marathoning all thirteen episodes - often in one sitting. No word on whether this distribution model will be followed for these five series, nor is there a publicly released plan for how the series will be spread out.