Channel nabs best original movie ratings with premiere

NEW YORK — Never underestimate the power of B-movie schlock: The Sci Fi Channel harvested the best original movie ratings in its history with Saturday’s premiere of low-budget space opera “Epoch.”

“Epoch,” starring Ryan O’Neal, David Keith and Craig Wasson, scored a 2.3 rating, which translates into 1.7 million households, in the 9-11 p.m. slot. The network racked up the aud despite a total absence of outside promotion and advertising, marketing the pic only with on-air promos. The only Sci Fi program that chalked up more households was the elaborate original miniseries “Dune,” starring William Hurt.

“Epoch,” about alien threats of global destruction, is one of a half-dozen or so modest movies, costing roughly $2 million apiece, that Sci Fi buys every year to supplement the expensive movies and minis it commissions.

Earlier this quarter, Sci Fi averaged a 1.5 rating — about 50% higher than its primetime average — for “Mindstorm,” with Eric Roberts, and “Soulkeeper,” with Karen Black and Brad Dourif.

Sci Fi pays a mid-six-figure license fee to get the U.S. premiere of these movies, which then go to the videostore a few months after their cable run.

Sci Fi bought “Epoch” from United Film Organization. Movie’s producer is Melanie J. Elin and its director Matt Codd.

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