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TNT buys Unapix horror pix

Distrib clinches 19 movie deal

Unapix has sold 19 horror pics to Time Warner’s TNT, clinching its biggest deal and reinforcing its position as one of the most active distributors of low-budget movies to cable.

Most of the movies have gone straight to video and previously aired on pay TV. Four titles are available to TNT immediately: “Grim,” “The Fear,” “The Surgeon” and “Ice Cream Man.” TNT will get multiple runs of the other titles starting with “Breeders,” “Strip Search” and “Killing Man” on Jan. 1, 2000. The final movie in the bundle, “The Apocalypse,” won’t make its way to TNT until June 1, 2003.

Rob Miller, president of Unapix, North America, says he is marketing seven completed independent movies that will either premiere in the multiplexes or make their debut on a cable network. The seven are:

  • “Can’t Be Heaven,” a family drama starring Ralph Macchio and Diane Ladd, directed by Richard Friedman and produced by Charles O’Brien, Joel Zwick and Cal Naylor.

  • “End of Innocence,” a teen-oriented suspense movie with Tom Arnold and Amy Irving, directed by James Rowe and produced by Peter Glatzer, Galt Niederhoffer and Sean Furst.

  • “Stranger Than Fiction,” a thriller with Dina Meyer and Natasha Gregson Wagner, directed by Eric Bross and produced by Ram Bergman and Dana Lusting.

  • “Drowning on Dry Land,” a drama with Barbara Hershey and Naveen Andrews, directed by Carl Colpeart and produced by Ruth Charney.

  • “The Mambo Cafe,” a comedy set in Spanish Harlem, starring Thalia and Danny Aiello, directed by Ruben Gonzalez and produced by Kushner-Locke and Brad Wyman.

  • “My Brother the Pig,” a family drama with Judge Reinhold, directed by Eric Fleming and produced by Phil Botana and Scott Vandiver.

  • “Other Voices,” a thriller with Rob Morrow and Stockard Channing, director by Dan McCormick and produced by Ruth Charny and Shelly Strong.

Selling well

In addition to TNT, Miller says Unapix has recently sold movies to HBO, Showtime, Encore, the Disney Channel, USA, Lifetime, Comedy Central, Sci-Fi Channel and FX.

Four of Unapix’s titles ended up as world premieres on cable. HBO got “Bram Stoker’s Mummy” (starring Lou Gossett Jr.) and “Devil in the Flesh” (Rose McGowan). The Sci-Fi Channel picked up “The Town Has Turned,” and Disney Channel bought “P.U.N.K.S.” (Randy Quaid, Cathy Moriarty).

But Miller is convinced that as more cable networks seek original movies, Unapix is well positioned to ramp up the number of world premieres it funnels to cable. Sources say that a cable network will pay up to $500,000 for a movie that debuts on the channel but as little as $25,000 for a movie that goes to video first.