Netflix has acquired the works of Roald Dahl, the author of children’s classics including BFG, Fantastic Mr Fox and the Witches, as part of the streaming company’s biggest content deal to date.
Netflix’s deal, which already has a deal with the Roald Dahl Story Company (RDSC) to license 16 titles, will help it build its content arsenal in streaming wars against rivals such as Disney +, Amazon Prime. Video and HBO Max.
Netflix’s total production budget under the existing license agreement is $ 1 billion and includes Jojo Rabbit director Taika Waititi, creating a TV series based on Charlie’s World and the Chocolate Factory and an adaptation. by Matilda the Musical.
“These projects opened our eyes to a much more ambitious endeavor,” Netflix said. “The creation of a unique universe through animated and live action films and television, publishing, games, immersive experiences, live theater consumer products and more. ”
The Roald Dahl Estate offers a huge global opportunity for Netflix as its books have been translated into 63 languages and sold over 300 million copies.
Past catalog acquisitions are rare for Netflix, which has built up a customer base of more than 200 million subscribers in part thanks to billions of dollars spent to close deals with renowned filmmakers and producers to create exclusive content.
Dahl’s grandson Luke Kelly, CEO of RDSC, said in a message to staff: “Our mission at the Roald Dahl Story Company is to share messages of hope, power and possibility among young people.
“We believe that being part of a larger company will give us additional support to continue in this mission. Netflix has agreed to acquire RDSC in a transaction that will build on the success we have achieved in recent years. “
Kelly said that one of Dahl’s books sells every 2.6 seconds and the company has plans in place for 19 TV shows, movies, stage shows and live experiences.
“With the support of Netflix, we will be able to reach even more young people and families around the world,” he said, adding that the company had made sure “that all of our staff can benefit financially from the sale.”
Kelly said that a significant portion of the proceeds from the sale is being used to create a charitable trust, which will focus on supporting existing and new charitable partners in the areas of children’s health, anti-hate and advocacy. fight against racism.
Dahl, who died in 1990 at the age of 74, made anti-Semitic comments throughout his life. The Dahl family and the RDSC apologized for the remarks last year.
Netflix, which is spending $ 17 billion this year creating and licensing TV shows and movies, has struck a series of high-cost exclusive deals with Hollywood producers and stars.
The company spent $ 150 million on Ryan Reynolds’ blockbuster 6 Underground and made deals with talents like Shonda Rhimes, the creator of hits like Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and How to Get Away With Murder, and a deal $ 300 million starring Ryan Murphy, whose credits include Glee, Nip / Tuck, and American Crime Story.
The fight to secure must-see programming is fueling a bitter war for ‘crown jewel’ content to win and retain subscribers in the battle for global streaming supremacy.
In May, Amazon paid $ 8.5 billion for MGM, the legendary Hollywood studio behind franchises like James Bond and Rocky, the second-largest buyout deal the company has ever completed. Apple and Comcast, the owner of Sky, also courted MGM but hesitated over the amount of the check Amazon was prepared to write.
And next year, Amazon will launch its more than $ 1 billion Lord of the Rings television series on its Prime Video service, five years after paying $ 250 million to secure the television rights to JRR Tolkien’s works, after founder Jeff Bezos asked for a Game of Thrones style. hit for the streaming platform.
Disney + surpassed 100 million subscribers worldwide in just 16 months after launching the streaming service, a feat that took Netflix a decade, thanks to a fifteen-year strategy of acquiring and building franchises. most valuable in Hollywood. In 2006, Disney spent $ 7.4 billion to buy Pixar, the successful factory behind Finding Nemo, Toy Story, and The Incredibles.
This was followed in 2009 by the surprise $ 4 billion purchase of the Marvel Comics Superhero Universe, securing the rights of thousands of characters, including Iron Man and Captain America, a move criticized at the time. but now considered a masterstroke.
And in 2012, another $ 4 billion deal saw Lucasfilm by George Lucas, the creator of the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises, complete Disney’s formidable arsenal of content.