Imax channels documentaries

Company sells films to Documentary Channel

Imax has sold the 21 documentary films it produced since 1985, including “Space Station,” narrated by Tom Cruise, and “Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon,” voiced over by Tom Hanks, to the Documentary Channel.

“This is, by far, the biggest deal we’ve ever done,” said Tom Neff, founder and CEO of the Doc Channel, which will schedule the Imax movies as a weekly series, starting in June, as part of a four-year exclusive deal.

Imax and the Doc Channel declined to discuss any financial details.

Imax thought the time was right to license the movies to cable “because high definition is breaking away from traditional television,” said Pat McDonald, co-president of Northstar Media, which is serving as sales agent for Imax. The movies will be available in standard definition, but they’ll also get remastered in high-def.

Although it reaches only about 14-million homes, the 2½-year-old Doc Channel has a high-def service that it’s offering to cable operators and satellite distributors. But the Doc Channel is handicapped by being a standalone network lacking clout with distribs. The Imax films could become a Doc Channel lure to get more cable ops and satcasters to carry the network.

“These pictures could become the Doc Channel’s tentpole, putting it on the map,” McDonald said.

The channel will seek out major advertisers to sponsor the Imax movies, Neff said.

Other Imax titles in the deal include “T-Rex: Back to the Cretaceous,” “The Dream Is Alive” (narrated by Walter Cronkite), “The Secret of Life on Earth” (narrated by Patrick Stewart) and “Into the Deep.”

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