Cable network goes on movie-buying spree

Oxygen has gone on a movie-buying spree, landing nine pictures in a deal with 20th Century Fox, including “The Devil Wears Prada” and “Shallow Hal,” the Warner Bros. titles “Music & Lyrics” and “License to Wed,” and Columbia’s “Catch & Release” with Jennifer Garner.

“We have a big appetite for movies,” said Debby Beece, president of programming for Oxygen, which runs pictures in primetime five nights a week and in various other fringe time periods.

The kind of movies Oxygen buys, she said, are “pictures that women would like to watch and men won’t throw up over.”

Beece said Oxygen has beefed up its budget both for movie acquisitions and original programming. She declined to give specifics, but SNL Kagan Research said Oxygen spent $85.1 million last year on all programming, including movies, and plans to shell out $87.7 million this year. The “License to Wed” deal is the pre-buy of the comedy starring Mandy Moore and Robin Williams that opens in theaters next month.

For three of the 20th Century Fox movies, Oxygen gets the first plays in the network window, starting in 2009: “A Good Year,” starring Russell Crowe; “Trust the Man,” with Julianne Moore; and “Bandidas,” with Penelope Cruz and Salma Hayek.

Oxygen won’t get five other Fox titles until after they finish their network window run on FX, sometime in 2013: “Prada,” “John Tucker Must Die,” “Just My Luck,” “My Super Ex-Girlfriend” and “Taxi.” Oxygen will get an older Fox title, “Shallow Hal,” a few years sooner.

The Warner Bros. and Columbia pictures will be available before the end of the decade.

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