Netflix has announced a first-look deal with comics publisher Boom Studios for new TV series based on Boom’s comic book franchises, giving the streaming service another avenue for intellectual property based on which it can create new shows.
While not nearly as large as big-name publishers like Marvel, DC, or Image Comics, Boom Studios is still one of the most popular comic book companies in the world, producing major franchises like Lumberjanes, Something is Killing the Children, Once & Future, Mouse Guard, and Coda.
With the new deal, Netflix gets access to a wealth of franchises and series from Boom’s original lineups to turn into new TV shows, something that Netflix badly needs in the increasingly tribalistic streaming wars. With media companies like Comcast (which owns NBC and Universal), AT&T (which owns Warner Bros. and HBO), and Disney starting to collect their major franchises back underneath their own umbrellas, Netflix needs new shows.
As the massive success of things like The Witcher, The Mandalorian, or Game of Thrones have shown, its far easier to make a global hit out of something that’s already popular with a built-in audience and fan base than it is to create the next big thing from scratch.
The new Netflix agreement isn’t a comprehensive first-look deal. Boom currently also has a feature film first-look deal at 20th Century Studios — and by extension, The Walt Disney Company, following the landmark Fox / Disney acquisition in 2019 — dating back to 2013 that runs through January 2021. 20th Century Studios and Boom have had a long-standing partnership, which culminated in the studio actually buying a minority stake in Boom Studios in 2017 (a stake that Disney acquired as part of its Fox purchase).
That partnership between 20th Century Studios and Boom has also seen some strain since the Fox acquisition by Disney. A big-budget animated version of Boom’s popular Mouse Guard series was canned just two weeks before production on the film was set to start. A live-action adaptation of the critically acclaimed Lumberjanes series (which had been in the works at Fox since 2015) was canceled shortly after the Disney deal closed, too. It’s not clear yet whether Disney and Boom will renew their feature film deal when it expires next January.
Disney, of course, also owns Marvel Comics, which features a wealth of intellectual property for the company to mine for future TV shows and films — something Disney has already leveraged to unparalleled success with its Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise. Compared to the now defunct 20th Century Fox — or Netflix — Disney is arguably less in need of a second major comic book publisher to create new content.