If you wanted to right now, you could pull up Netflix on your computer, phone or streaming device and watch Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War and Ant-Man and the Wasp. The last three MCU titles are all available on the preeminent streaming service, but they'll also be the final three MCU titles to make their way to Netflix. The next MCU movie, March’s Captain Marvel, is not coming to Netflix, ever.
That’s because Captain Marvel will instead be Disney’s first theatrical release and MCU film to come to Disney’s new streaming service Disney+. In anticipation of the launch of the streaming service, Disney allowed its licensing deal with Netflix to expire at the end of 2018. That is a financially costly choice, at least in the short term, as Disney chief financial officer Christine McCarthy explained during Disney’s first-quarter earnings conference call, saying:
$150 million. That will be weighted to the second half. And to put some context on that, Captain Marvel, which is coming out in this second quarter, is the first film that we will withhold from our output deals. So that's where you can see the foregone licensing revenue begin.
What Christine McCarthy is saying here is that Disney will eat $150 million in lost operating income in the 2019 fiscal year, most of it coming in the second half. This is the amount Disney is expecting to lose from forgone licensing revenue, the money Disney is missing out on by holding back titles, like Captain Marvel, from after-market sales to companies like Netflix. Furthermore, it's affected by the recent cancellation of Netflix's Marvel series, including Luke Cage, Daredevil, and Iron Fist.
Disney makes popular and desirable movies that have traditionally provided a revenue stream when those movies are licensed out to third parties like the various streaming services and television networks. By holding back titles, like Captain Marvel, which will be exclusive to the Disney+ streaming service, Disney has effectively cut off that revenue stream.
While the $150 million is no small amount to pass up, Disney is doing so as an investment in its future, as it hopes to make many multiples of that down the line with the Disney+ service. On the conference call, Disney CEO Bob Iger likened it to spending money to build new attractions in Disney’s theme parks. You have to spend money to make money.
So Captain Marvel will be the first title held back from other services, but it won’t be the last.
The days of going to Netflix for the latest Disney or Marvel movie are now at an end. Captain Marvel will be just one of the many value propositions that Disney will be putting forward to entice consumers to the Disney Plus service when it launches later this year. Those wanting to watch Captain Marvel after its theatrical run but before the service launches, will presumably have to (gasp!) buy a physical copy of the Blu-ray.
Disney will also have a 60 percent ownership stake in Hulu once the Fox purchase goes through, so some Disney titles may still come to, or remain there, but Disney Plus will be the primary home for Disney movies in the future as the Mouse House wants that direct-to-consumer platform to be a major part of its business going forward.
We still don’t know much about Disney+, like its launch date, but we should gain more clarity when Disney holds an Investor Day presentation and demonstration of the app on April 11.
We don’t have to wait quite that long though to see Captain Marvel. The MCU’s latest film arrives on March 8. Check out our release guide for all of the biggest movies coming to theaters this year and stay tuned to CinemaBlend for all the latest on the MCU and the Disney+ streaming service.