There’s little question that Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) has become the preeminent provider of the streaming services it pioneered. The company had roughly 214 million subscribers to close out the third quarter, adding millions more with each successive quarter.
However, Netflix has never been content to rest on its laurels and has its sights set on much greener pastures. Several recent developments suggest that Netflix is using entertainment powerhouse Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) as an example of what it can become and is expanding in ways that could eventually make it a direct competitor to the House of Mouse.
An interesting acquisition
Reports emerged this week that Netflix would acquire Scanline VFX, a special-effects workshop that had a hand in the production of several Netflix original programs. The company offers award-winning visual effects and is “known for its breathtaking visuals, as well as its complex, photorealistic effects in virtual production,” according to Deadline.
While the company may not be a household name, it has worked on an impressive array of top-shelf productions including HBO’s Game of Thrones and Zack Snyder’s Justice League, both for studios under the AT&T umbrella. That’s just the beginning of Scanline VFX’s long list of credits, which also include a host of Marvel tentpole movies such as Black Widow, Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and more.
Scanline VFX has also done extensive work on a number of Netflix originals, including Blood Red Sky, Slumberland, The Gray Man, The Adam Project, Cowboy Bebop, as well as the third and upcoming fourth season of its hit show Stranger Things.
While this might seem like a somewhat minor acquisition, this is merely the latest in a stream of deals that point to Netflix’s ultimate goal of cloning Disney itself.
Studios and movie theaters and content, oh my!
Back in 2018, the streaming giant announced plans to acquire ABQ Studios in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The production studio offers nine sound stages clocking in at over 170,000 square feet and will help Netflix generate as much as $1 billion in productions over the coming 10 years. ABQ was known as the shooting site for a number of high-profile productions including Logan, Preacher, Better Call Saul, and Marvel’s Avengers. The studio is now on track to become a major production hub for Netflix’s original movies and television series.
Early last year, Netflix closed its deal to acquire Hollywood’s iconic Grauman’s Egyptian Theater, in a deal that raised more than a few eyebrows. The buyout represented a major milestone in the company’s efforts to be taken seriously by executives in Hollywood. It also provides Netflix with a venue to showcase some of its loftier fare that must have a theatrical run in order to be considered for the major movie awards.
Just last month, Netflix made headlines when the company made the biggest acquisition in its history, buying Roald Dahl Story Co., in a deal valued at more than $700 million. The move gave Netflix control of a treasure trove of intellectual property and beloved characters, including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (aka Willy Wonka), Matilda, The BFG, Fantastic Mr. Fox, James and the Giant Peach, and more.
Netflix has already commissioned Academy Award-winning filmmaker Taika Waititi to adapt a series based on the world of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Waititi is known for such films as JoJo Rabbit, What We Do In the Shadows, Thor: Ragnarok, and Avengers: Endgame.
A pattern emerges
Disney is unrivaled in terms of its production capabilities. The company scored a major coup over a six-year period when it added the Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm studios to its assets. As part of the deal with Lucas, Disney acquired Industrial Light and Magic, one of the top lighting-and-effects creators in the business.
There’s also no denying Disney’s clout in Hollywood or its ability to cross-market its content to sell movie tickets, consumer products, theme-parks tickets, and most recently, streaming video subscriptions. Netflix doesn’t yet have any theme parks but has all the other elements in place as the company expands its empire.
Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos famously said, “The goal is to become HBO faster than HBO can become us.” There’s little question the company has achieved that and more.
If its recent moves are any indication, Netflix now has its sights set on becoming Disney.
This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis — even one of our own — helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.