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Channel 4, Fox forge union

Net nabs rights to new releases, back catalog pics

Channel 4, Blighty’s ad-funded pubcaster, has won a terrestrial bidding war to secure a supply deal with 20th Century Fox believed to be worth around $250 million.

In one of the web’s most significant movie deals, C4 beat rivals the BBC, ITV and Five to land rights to more than 1,500 back catalog pics, plus new releases.

Titles include “Cheaper by the Dozen,” “Dodgeball,” “Garfield,” “I-Robot,” “The Day After Tomorrow,” “Master and Commander,” “Titanic” and “Big Momma’s House,” alongside recent fare such as Oscar winner “Walk the Line.”

The films will fuel C4’s suite of channels, including FimFour, which bows as a free service in July, until well into the middle of the next decade.

C4 and ITV were both determined to win the movie package to stop Five from acquiring pics for its upcoming digital channels.

With an annual acquisitions budget of $175 million, C4 denied that the deal would mean less coin for other acquisitions in future — or that it would have any impact on its spend in Blighty.

“The cost of this deal with 20th Century Fox is being met out of our existing acquisition budget ,and there is no question of money being taken away from original production to pay for it,” said station acquisitions topper Jeff Ford. “In fact we are increasing our spend on original British film and TV this year.”