Network allows Disney to have 3-D premiere

In a first for both networks, Starz will join the Disney Channel in premiering the theatrical concert movie “Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds” almost a month before it arrives on DVD in stores.

Distributed by Disney, pic piled up a domestic gross of $65.3 million earlier this year.

Stephan Shelanski, exec VP of programming for Starz, said Disney came to him with a plan to get the movie onto the Disney Channel as soon as possible because the half-hour “Hannah Montana” sitcom has reigned as the net’s highest-rated series since it bowed in March 2006.

Since Disney’s theatrical-output deal with Starz would not permit Disney Channel, a basic-cable network, to get the “Hannah Montana” concert before Starz, Shelanski said he worked out the deal that allows both nets to run it beginning July 26.

Disney Channel gets the premiere in 3-D, partnering with Wal-Mart stores for free glasses as part of back-to-school displays. Starz will kick off its 3-D version the next day, on July 27, via both Starz on Demand and Starz HD on Demand.

Shelanski said Starz will carefully analyze the “Hannah Montana” pic’s ratings not only because there’ll be no DVD or pay-per-view window to cannibalize viewers but because the summer run will likely draw lots of “Hannah Montana” fans who are out of school.

If there’s a spike in the ratings, Shelanski said Starz will seek out more early-window experiments.

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