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Showtime captures ‘Monster’ cable rights

Cabler in need of big draw flicks

NEW YORK — Showtime has bought the pay TV rights to “Monster,” starring Charlize Theron, the role for which she won the 2003 Oscar.

Neither Showtime nor the seller, DEJ Prods., would comment on the license fee, but industry estimates would indicate that “Monster” fetched between $3.5 million and $4 million. The movie ended up grossing $34.5 million in U.S. theaters. Showtime has scheduled it to begin its run next month.

Before Showtime bought “Monster,” A&E was negotiating with DEJ to buy both the pay TV and basic cable window to the movie and treat it as a special event. But a dispute over the Canadian rights prevented the deal from being consummated.

Showtime needs theatrical movies more than its two pay TV rivals HBO and Starz! because its main movie supplier, Paramount Pictures, has delivered precious few hits the last few years.

The fate of Showtime’s other studio supplier, MGM, is in the hands of Sony Pictures, which has engineered an agreement in principle to buy the company. Sony could either shut it down, or keep it alive as a boutique operation that would produce an occasional James Bond or Pink Panther pic.

Original series and six or so high-visibility made-for-cable movies every year are the two major prongs of Showtime’s strategy to keep its subscriber base from shrinking further than the 9% drop-off the network suffered last year.

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