Netflix in talks to nab Spacey drama ahead of HBO and AMC

Wed Mar 16, 2011 3:55pm EDT
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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Netflix, the DVD rental and online video service, is breaking away from its traditional role just as a licensor of movies and TV shows by negotiating with two of Hollywood's biggest names for an original show.

The company is in early stage discussions with representatives for movie star Kevin Spacey and director David Fincher for the exclusive rights for a two-season, 26-episode remake of British political drama 'House of Cards', according to a person familiar with the talks on Tuesday. Fincher directed the Facebook movie "The Social Network".

The news was first reported by Hollywood blog which said the deal could be worth $100 million. That figure was described as "way off mark" by a Reuters source.

If Netflix wins rights to a high profile show like this it will likely need to outbid the likes of major players like HBO, Showtime or AMC.

With just over 20 million subscribers it is still way behind a powerhouse like HBO which has thousands of hours of original programing and more than 28.2 million subscribers, according to SNL Kagan, a research firm.

But a move to option original programing will change the way Netflix is perceived in Hollywood. Up till now it has been seen as a safe way for studios to make money from library TV shows and older movies. But some executives have worried that Netflix's online service priced at less than $10 a month could undermine the cable pay-TV business model.

Time Warner in particular has been the most vocal critic of Netflix when analysts have asked if Netflix's online service is a threat to the future of its HBO pay-TV service.

(Reporting by Yinka Adegoke; Editing by Bernard Orr)