Netflix has made its first acquisition—the mind of a brilliant comics creator


Mark Millar, who created the comic books that were turned into Kick-Ass and Kingsman and came up with the stories that inspired Captain America: Civil War and Logan, is joining Netflix.

The streaming-video service announced today that it has bought Millar’s publishing house, Millarworld, in its first-ever acquisition.

Netflix plans to develop originals from Millarworld’s franchises, which include well-known comics-turned-movies like Kick-Ass and Wanted, lesser-known titles like the anti-hero comic, Nemesis, and any new “super-hero, anti-hero, fantasy, sci-fi, and horror” stories Millar and his team may cook up.

Known for elevating his stories with unconventional characters and darker storylines, Millar’s works play especially well on screen. “This is only the third time in history a major comic-book company has been purchased at this level,” Millar noted in a statement, referring to Disney’s acquisition of Marvel, which the media conglomerate has leveraged into its films, TV shows, consumer products, and theme parks, and Warner Bros.’s acquisition of DC Comics.

The buy echoes acquisitions by another media giant, Disney, which elevated its movie division by acquiring the businesses of brilliant creators like George Lucas and the Pixar animated-film brainstrust. Under the leadership of CEO Bob Iger, Disney bought computer-animation film studio Pixar for $7.4 billion in 2006 (paywall), comic-book publisher Marvel for $4 billion in 2009, and Star Wars and Indiana Jones production house Lucasfilm for another $4 billion in 2012.

Those deals went on to define Disney’s film arm—it’s biggest titles 2016, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Finding Dory, and Captain America: Civil War, were all born from them. It’s fitting that the first acquisition by Netflix, which is aggressively stocking up on original shows and movies, and self-producing more projects, would be in publishing—and genre publishing at that.

Niche TV has been a strong growth area for Netflix, which doesn’t need every show to be a hit like Stranger Things, but rather cares about its overall subscriber base. It needs a wide range of content rolling out on a regular basis to satisfy its 100 million global subscribers and their varying tastes. Some of its early efforts in film, like Bong Joon-Ho’s social commentary Okja and David Ayer’s upcoming Bright, have been genre titles as well.

Disney also licenses a lot of its properties to Netflix—such as the Marvel series it releases every six months, like The Defenders, which debuts later in August—and this could be protection for the day that stops happening.

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