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‘Iwo Jima’ charges straight to AMC

Cable network buys rights to Eastwood film

AMC has bought the cable-TV rights to Clint Eastwood’s “Letters From Iwo Jima” and will schedule it as a primetime special event on Feb. 16.

Ed Carroll, president of Rainbow Entertainment Services, parent company of AMC, said Eastwood “so respects the environment we’ve created for movies” that he’s taped a special introduction to the premiere cablecast. After the showing, AMC will run a making-of documentary about the movie.

“Letters From Iwo Jima” cablecast marks the earliest AMC has ever gotten its hands on a theatrical movie, with the pic going directly to the network without any pay TV window. Warner Bros., the pay TV distributor, pitched it to the premium networks, starting with Starz, but the fact that the picture is in Japanese, with English subtitles, proved to be an imposing drawback, though Starz made an offer.

Despite substantial critical acclaim, “Letters From Iwo Jima” ended its domestic B.O. run with only $13.7 million.

AMC bought “Iwo Jima” in a one-off, multirun/multiyear deal; the movie is not part of a package.

As a general rule, the cabler doesn’t buy the first network window to big-grossing theatrical movies because the cost is too high. The net prefers to go with older, less expensive pics that can still draw a substantial audience of movie lovers who gravitate to AMC because it schedules more pictures than any other basic-cable network except Turner Classic Movies.