NEW YORK — Rupert Murdoch’s general-entertainment cable networks FX and Fox Family Channel have jointly engineered their biggest theatrical-movie buy ever, ponying up about $120 million to purchase 54 pictures from Disney’s Buena Vista.
The titles include “Armageddon,” “The Sixth Sense,” “Enemy of the State,” “The Waterboy,” “Shakespeare in Love,” “The Cider House Rules” and “Life Is Beautiful.”
FX and Family won’t gain access to most of the movies until 2004, when the titles complete their exclusive deals in the first network window. ABC has the broadcast-network rights to many of the titles because it’s a sister company of Buena Vista, the distributor. But NBC has “A Civil Action” and “Shakespeare in Love,” CBS has “The Cider House Rules” while Fox and FX are sharing the window for “Deuce Bigalow, Male Gigolo.”
Chuck Saftler, VP of programming and acquisitions for FX, said, “With this purchase, we’ve secured our future, giving us one of the strongest movie libraries in basic cable.”
Saftler declined to discuss the financial terms, but sources say FX and Family will pay about $2 million a title. The license fee gives the networks multiple runs of each movie over a four-year license term, according to one source.
In the last year or so, FX has speeded up its movie buying, landing such titles as “American Pie,” “The Blair Witch Project,” “Starship Troopers,” “Varsity Blues” and “The X-Files: Fight the Future.”
Other movies in the Buena Vista package include “Six Days, Seven Nights,” “Bicentennial Man,” “The Insider,” “Rushmore,” “Halloween H20,” “Holy Man” and “Mystery, Alaska.”