Cabler inks with WB, Sony, Disney, Fox, Orion

ANAHEIM – Encore Media Corp. (EMC), which has made its mark in the entertainment world by gobbling up the rights to vast amounts of film product for presentation to a comparatively small base of subscribers, is at it again, securing licensing agreements with a handful of major studios totaling 4,000 titles and $250 million.

The studios are Warner Bros., Sony, Disney, 20th Century Fox and Orion.

Controlling its destiny

“No matter what the competitive environment is in the next 15 years, with these deals in place, we will be able to control our programming destiny,” Encore Entertainment Group prexy Steve Bell said.

These new licensing agreements run through the year 2011 and increase EMC’s film inventory by 50%. The acquisitions begin running in early ’97.

The movies will surely have many homes, given that Encore programs a plethora of channels and is adding another in February with the launch of a channel dedicated exclusively to movies with African-American themes and featuring black stars.

Encore’s premium services include a seven-channel multiplex that consists of Encore, Plex-Encore 2 and channels dedicated exclusively to Western films, mysteries, action pics, true stories and kids programming. The company also programs Starz!, Starz!2 and forthcoming black film channel BET Movies/Starz!3.

Combined, the Encore theme channels in its multiplex have a pay base of 11 million homes, including satellite programmer DirecTV. Starz! has five million subs.

Big-ticket branding

Meanwhile, Encore announced that it is pouring an additional $20 million into letting America know that the channels carrying all of these licensed movies exist, hiring Burt Reynolds, Lynn Redgrave, Dennis Weaver and Stacy Keach as part of a big-ticket branding campaign for the multiplex theme channels.

Reynolds will serve as the on-air host for Encore’s action movie channel, with Weaver hosting on the Westerns channel, Redgrave on true stories spot and Keach the mysteries channel.

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