'Morbius' Is Now Streaming on Netflix, 5 Months After It Hit Theaters
And no, it isn't on Disney Plus.
Joan E. SolsmanFormer Senior Reporter
Joan E. Solsman was CNET's senior media reporter, covering the intersection of entertainment and technology. She's reported from locations spanning from Disneyland to Serbian refugee camps, and she previously wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. She bikes to get almost everywhere and has been doored only once.
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Three Folio Eddie award wins: 2018 science & technology writing (Cartoon bunnies are hacking your brain), 2021 analysis (Deepfakes' election threat isn't what you'd think) and 2022 culture article (Apple's CODA Takes You Into an Inner World of Sign)
Morbius, a spinoff from the Spider-Man universe of live-action films, hit theaters way back in April. And even though lots of movies are making their way to streaming services faster than they did before the pandemic, that isn't the case for Sony-distributed movies like Morbius, which took five months to start streaming in September.
Where is Morbius streaming?
Morbius is streaming first and exclusively on Netflix. The movie is distributed by Sony, which struck a deal with Netflix last year for all its 2022 theatrical releases to stream on Netflix before they're available on any other service or TV network.
Is it 'free' to stream?
Since Netflix requires a paid subscription, nothing is available on Netflix free. But Netflix never charges any additional fees to watch anything in its library, and Morbius will be part of the standard catalog like everything else.
Are Morbius and Spider-Man: No Way Home both on Netflix?
No, the latest Spider-Man movie, No Way Home, isn't on Netflix at all.
Both movies are distributed by Sony, and they belong to the same narrative universe. But Netflix's deal to stream these movies starts with films theatrically released in 2022 and after. No Way Home was released in late 2021, and Sony has an agreement in place for its 2021 movies to go to the premium cable network Starz first, not Netflix.
On Starz, No Way Home has been available to watch on its traditional channels as well as on its streaming app since July.
Why isn't Morbius on Disney Plus?
Marvel may be Disney's, and Morbius may have sprung from Marvel, but don't expect this or other new Spider-Man universe films to be on Disney Plus soon.
The main reason for the differences is that Marvel characters on film divvied up between two different studios, Disney-owned Marvel Studios and Sony. Spider-Man and Morbius, as characters, derive from Marvel, but Disney's Marvel struck a complicated license-sharing deal with Sony for characters from the Spider-Man comics.
All the standalone Spider-Man universe movies are made and distributed by Sony. Marvel handles the rest.
Each company can arrange to "borrow" the characters (and the actors who play them) from the other to be part of its own MCU films. That's why Tom Holland appears regularly in Disney's Avengers films. That's also why Benedict Cumberbatch played Doctor Strange not only in Sony's Spider-Man: No Way Home but also in Disney's Doctor Strange: Multiverse of Madness.
That's also why you can stream some movies on Disney Plus featuring Holland as Spider-Man -- but you can't stream any of the Spider-Man specific films there.
On top of that, Disney and Sony have dramatically different streaming strategies.
Disney has its own streaming service; Sony doesn't. Disney has been flexible during the pandemic, constantly changing when (and if) movies went to theaters and how long they stayed there before streaming. Sony, on the other hand, is what's sometimes called an "arms dealer": It produces and distributes theatrical films, but then it strikes deals with TV networks or streaming services, like Netflix, to show them for home viewing, racking up revenue from these deals in the process.