'The Riches' makes history

FX has continued its aggressive movie buying by landing cable rights in the first network window to “Night at the Museum” along with three other 20th Century Fox theatricals for a total license fee of about $30 million.

“Museum” purchase is the latest in a series of movie buys for FX, which has picked up more big-grossing pics released last year than any other basic-cable net.

Through previous deals, FX has lined up titles including “X-Men: The Last Stand,” “The Departed,” “Superman Returns,” “Click,” “Ice Age: The Meltdown” and “The Devil Wears Prada.” It will also receive “The Da Vinci Code” in an early network window following multiple runs of the title on TNT.

The three other movies in the “Museum” deal are “Deck the Halls,” “Date Movie” and “The Marine.” FX will take title to these four movies in the second quarter of 2009, after HBO completes its first pay TV window, part of a theatrical output deal the pay cabler has with 20th Century Fox.

FX uses its strongest movies as primetime lead-ins to its scripted original series, including “The Shield,” “Rescue Me” and “Nip/Tuck.”

On Monday, the strategy worked when FX premiered “The Day After Tomorrow” at 7:30, which delivered more than 3 million viewers to the 10 p.m. debut of series “The Riches,” starring Eddie Izzard and Minnie Driver. As a result, “The Riches” scored a strapping 3.8 million viewers. It also harvested 2.5 million adults 18-49, the second-best number in that category for a series premiere in FX history, beaten only by “The Shield.”

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