Encore puts its faith in ‘Dogma’

Media Group buys pay-TV rights to controversial pic

NEW YORK — Encore Media Group has acquired the exclusive pay TV rights to Kevin Smith’s controversial “Dogma” from Miramax co-chairs Bob and Harvey Weinstein.

“Dogma,” which opens nationally today, will have its world pay-TV bow on the New Encore in fall 2000, with subsequent play on other EMG webs. EMG also acquired subscription video-on-demand rights.

In “Dogma,” two renegade fallen angels (Ben Affleck and Matt Damon) discover a loophole in the divine covenant that will allow them to escape their eternal banishment to Wisconsin.

While the film’s satirical view of the Catholic Church has offended some — including the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights — EMG founder, chairman and CEO John J. Sie pursued the film because of its message of religious faith.

“Audiences in their late teens and 20s are bombarded by a world of secular images and ideas,” said Sie. ” ‘Dogma’s’ blend of comic book humor, street language and theology may draw them into asking serious questions about religious faith and the existence of God,” he said.

When Miramax parent Disney was threatened with picketers protesting what they saw as blasphemy, the Weinsteins personally bought the pic from Miramax. Lions Gate Films is distributing “Dogma” theatrically in North America.

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