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Starz! align for Disney, Col

Net offers teasers on 'Cars,' 'Narnia,' 'Rent'

Walt Disney and Columbia are teaming with John Malone’s Starz! to promote some of their new pics.

“Cars,” next summer’s animated tentpole produced by Pixar and distributed by Disney, is the latest movie for which a promo strategy with Starz! has been worked out.

Studio has made available a 45-second teaser trailer that will premiere over Thanksgiving weekend and run as interstitial programming.

The “Cars” sneak peek comes alongside the nine-minute exclusive scene that Disney and co-producer Walden Media have carved out of “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.” The “Narnia” clip will play across Starz! and its sister networks Kids & Family and Encore.

For Columbia/Revolution Studios’ “Rent,” Starz! wangled not only fresh footage but a sitdown with two of the movie’s principals, Rosario Dawson and Adam Pascal, who talked about the filming of the scene, which includes a musical number.

Disney and Col have long-term output deals with Starz!, which gets the pay TV window to all of their pics exclusively.

“We’re deliberately trying to go beyond the formulaic, predictable half-hour behind-the-scenes documentaries that show up on other networks,” said Stephan Shelanski, senior VP of program acquisitions for the Starz! Entertainment Group.

Shelanski said Disney and Columbia were eager to provide Starz! with exclusive scenes even though its average aud is much smaller than that of a broadcast net or an ad-supported cabler like USA and TNT. The reason: “All of the studies we’ve done,” he said, “show that our audience consists of avid moviegoers who also rent more movie DVDs and watch more movies on television than the average TV viewer.”

Unlike its pay TV competitors HBO and Showtime, which schedule lots of scripted original series, Starz! and its sister networks focus all of their attention on theatrical movies.

The quid pro quo for getting fresh clips of forthcoming blockbusters, said Shelanski, is that Starz! occasionally “has to help the studio to get the word out on smaller films.” Net, for example, brought in Jennifer Connelly, star of Touchstone’s horror thriller “Dark Water,” to promote the pic by hosting a Starz! movie night.

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