In a bid to expand its superhero credentials, Netflix has made its first acquisition, comic-book company Millarworld, with the intention of adapting characters from the publisher's titles into movies, series and kids' shows that will be available only to Netflix subscribers.
The Los Gatos, Calif.-based Netflix didn't disclose Monday how much it paid for Millarworld, which was launched in 2004 by the Scottish comic-book author Mark Millar.
Some of the publisher's graphic novels, including "Kick-Ass," "Wanted" and "Kingsman," have already been turned into movies by other major studios.
Netflix said that as part of the deal, Millarworld will continue to create and publish new stories and character franchises under the Netflix label.
Netflix has already made significant forays into the world of comic-book adaptations, partnering with Disney's Marvel on series including "Luke Cage," "Jessica Jones" and "Iron Fist."
The new deal signals Netflix's commitment to build up a proprietary arsenal of comic-book characters. The digital streaming company has been trying to boost the number of self-produced original shows it produces and to decrease its reliance on content that it licenses from other studios.
"We can't wait to harness the creative power of Millarworld to Netflix and start a new era in global storytelling," said Ted Sarandos, chief content officer at Netflix, in a statement.
He said Netflix will create original programming based on several existing Millarworld franchises as well as new stories that Millar and his team will continue to create and publish.
In the last 10 ten years, Hollywood studios have increasingly gravitated toward comic-book adaptations as a way of capturing global market share. The Walt Disney Co. acquired Marvel Entertainment for an estimated $4 billion in 2009 and has since dominated the superhero movie market.
Warner Bros. continues to pump out superhero movies in partnership with its corporate sibling, DC Comics. This year, 20th Century Fox acquired a minority stake in Boom Studios, the Los Angeles-based publisher of comic books and graphic novels. The deal was valued at about $10 million.
Millarworld has created a series of interconnected comic heroes whose stories tie together. Other titles in its library include "Jupiter's Legacy," "Empress" and "Reborn."
Millar, who runs the publisher with his wife, Lucy, is veteran of the Marvel universe, where he wrote the popular titles "Old Man Logan" and "Civil War."
"I'm so in love with what Netflix is doing and excited by their plans. Netflix is the future and Millarworld couldn't have a better home," Millar said in a statement Monday.
Netflix said in July that it had more than 100 million subscribers worldwide. For the first time, the company counts more subscribers overseas than in the U.S.