Netflix has struck a deal with Weinstein Co. for the exclusive U.S. pay-television rights to the independent film studio's first-run movies, beginning in 2016.
The arrangement represents a further step in the budding Internet television service's strategy of securing exclusive movies and TV shows for its 37 million subscribers -- and representing the second time Netflix has outmaneuvered a premium cable channel for the U.S. subscription TV rights for a major studio's releases.
Last December, Netflix won the pay-TV rights from Starz to movies from Walt Disney Co., including Disney, Marvel and Lucasfilm live-action releases and animated fare from its Pixar and Disney studios.
Netflix already distributes Weinstein Co.'s documentaries and foreign films, including the Academy Award-winning best picture "The Artist" and the best documentary feature "Undefeated." The newly announced multi-year deal with Weinstein covers theatrical releases starting in 2016, after the studio's current deal with Showtime expires.
"The deal that we've just completed with Netflix is probably the biggest deal in the history of the Weinstein Co.," co-Chairman Harvey Weinstein said in a statement. "Together, we are discussing ways to reinvent the pay-TV experience so that the audience can get even more for their money."
Deal terms were not released, though payments are often calculated based on how many movies are released and the box office performance. Media analyst Barton Crockett of Lazard Capital estimated the cost at about $30 million a year.
Crockett lauded the deal for bolstering Netflix's movie offerings -- bringing it content from a "hot studio" whose releases have included such Oscar winners as "Django Unchained" (lead-actor Oscar winner Christoph Waltz), "Silver Linings Playbook" (lead-actress Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence) and "The King's Speech" (best picture).
"Over the next few years, Netflix's movie lineup, we believe, will become second only to HBO's in prominence and exclusivity," Crockett wrote in an analyst note.
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