Pay cabler needed to pact with studio to keep film library flush

Starz has reupped its output deal with Sony, a move made necessary after losing the Disney library at the end of 2017.

While Starz has been making a concerted effort to ramp up original programming over the past several years, its bread and butter remains theatricals, and a loss of its pact with Sony would have proved devastating.

The current Sony deal was to have expired at the end of 2016, and this new pact, negotiated by Sony Pictures Television, is effective through 2021.

Disney opted to sign with Netflix rather than continue its relationship with Starz. Mouse House deal with the streaming service begins in 2017.

Starz has been a longtime partner of Sony, televising its films beginning with the studio’s 2005 releases. Films set to arrive on Starz in 2013 include “Zero Dark Thirty,” “The Amazing Spider-Man” and “21 Jump Street.”

Pics will not only play on Starz but on its sister networks, including Encore; video on demand; and other platforms.

Move comes as Starz awaits its spinoff from Liberty Media. At the recent Television Critics Assn. confab, network topper Chris Albrecht said there will an increase in original programming going forward.

Although theatricals currently attract far more viewers than series, the net’s future financial health resides in the originals. Those shows would remain in the pay cabler’s library and are more profitable in the long term if produced by Starz.

Upcoming new series include “Da Vinci’s Demons” and “Black Sails,” from exec producer Michael Bay.

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