IFC pacts for Lionsgate films

Network pays $12 million for 70 movies

The Independent Film Channel has shelled out about $12 million for a package of 70 movies from Lionsgate, many of them TV premieres in the first network window.

“Away From Her,” the drama that earned Julie Christie an Oscar nomination, premieres on IFC in the summer of 2010. IFC will get a few other Lionsgate titles later in their network-window run, including “Crash,” “Pride” and the “Saw” movies. (FX gets the premiere of “Crash,” TNT has the debut of “Pride” and Sci Fi Channel has first dibs on the “Saw” movies.)

“This is one of the biggest movie deals we’ve ever made,” said Evan Shapiro, executive VP and GM of IFC. (IFC opened for business in September 1994.)

The IFC deal represents Lionsgate’s third big movie sale in the last four months. The studio harvested $20 million from USA and Sci Fi Channel for “3:10 to Yuma,” “Saw II” and “Good Luck Chuck,” among other titles. And it chalked up $12 million from Turner’s TBS and TNT for four pictures, including two by Tyler Perry: “Why Did I Get Married” and “Daddy’s Little Girls.”

On the IFC deal, Rand Stoll, executive VP of TV sales for Lionsgate, cited the long-term relationship between Lionsgate and IFC, most notably Lionsgate’s production of the “Mad Men” series for IFC’s sister network AMC.

Although the Lionsgate movies will kick off on IFC, Shapiro said that some of them will eventually get runs on AMC, WE TV and Fuse. All three networks are part of Rainbow Programming Services, which is owned by Chuck Dolan’s Cablevision Systems.

In addition to what Shapiro calls “complex and challenging movies” for IFC’s “educated, upscale audience,” IFC also is buying horror movies including the “Hostel” franchise, “The Descent” and Rob Zombie’s “House of 1000 Corpses.” “Our viewers love movies that go against traditional mores,” says Shapiro.

Other IFC premieres from Lionsgate include “Bug,” with Ashley Judd; “Slow Burn,” with Ray Liotta; and “Fierce People,” with Diane Lane.

IFC gets these movies following their exclusive pay-TV window on Showtime, which has a theatrical- output deal with Lionsgate.