NEW YORK — The Disney Channel, beefing up its nightly theatrical double-feature franchise, has bought exclusive basic-cable windows to a batch of movies from Columbia TriStar, including “Hook,” “Karate Kid III” and “Fly Away Home.”
In addition, Disney Channel has picked up the world TV premieres of two full-length animated features from Warner Bros.: “Cats Don’t Dance” and “Swan Princess II.” Another theatrical that will make its U.S. TV debut on Disney is Nelvana Communications’ “Pippi Longstocking.” Disney has also bought a basic-cable window to three New Line movies: “Father & Scout,” “Monkey Trouble” and “Big Girls Don’t Cry.”
Movies have become the bellwether programming of the Disney Channel, which gets first dibs on the inventory of Walt Disney for such premieres as “The Little Mermaid,” “The Lion King” and “Pocahontas,” and the forthcoming “Jungle 2 Jungle” (on Jan. 17), “101 Dalmatians,” “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” “Hercules,” “George of the Jungle” and “Flubber.”
These pictures will all premiere on the Disney Channel, which will get them exclusively for anywhere from two months to a year or more. After the Disney Channel, the Disney movies will make their way to Disney-owned ABC TV, which will schedule them in the two-hour Sunday 7 p.m. “Wonderful World of Disney” timeslot.
“We go after family movies very aggressively,” says Rich Ross, senior VP of programming and production for the Disney Channel. Ross says the channel’s goal, through heavy promotion, is to make cable subscribers aware that two back-to-back family movies are locked in Monday through Saturday at 7 p.m.
Other movies in the Columbia TriStar package are “Bingo,” “The Adventures of Milo & Otis,” “Cops & Robbersons,” “The Next Karate Kid,” “Sylvester,” “The Bear” and “Like Father Like Son.”