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Time Warner Cable courts film snobs

Pact with Cuban offers theatrical movies early

Snooty New Yorkers with extra cash in their pockets have a snob-appeal bonanza awaiting them on Time Warner Cable’s digital pay-per-view channel.

In a classic be-the-first-kid-on-your-block programming strategy, TW’s N.Y. cable system and a few others have joined with entrepreneur Mark Cuban to offer theatrical movies well in advance of their theatrical premiere — for a jacked-up price, of course.

For example, as part of Cuban’s experimental Ultra HD Video on Demand, the low-budgeted comedy “Closing Escrow,” which opened in New York on Aug. 24, was available for weeks on the TW PPV channel for a retail price of $19.99. Similarly, “Cashback,” a comedy about a young man who indulges his fantasies while working the latenight shift in a supermarket, costs $9.99 a pop on TW N.Y.

TW doesn’t discriminate against TV movies. The cable operator, along with Cox and Cablevision, showcases what it calls world-premiere movies from RHI Entertainment at least 90 days before these made-fors end up on basic cable. (RHI makes movies in bulk for Sci Fi Channel, Lifetime and Spike TV.) For $3.95 apiece, TW customers can wallow in such titles as “Maneater,” “Croc,” “Something Beneath” and “Eye of the Beast” ahead of the masses.

You won’t get IFC First Take movies on TW before they land in the theaters but there is the next-best thing: They’re available day-and-date with their premiere at the three IFC Film Center movie houses in downtown Manhattan. For $5.95 apiece, home viewers can see “Dans Paris,” “This Is England” or “Drama/Mex” without having to put up with theater lines, admission prices and people talking on cellphones during the movie.

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