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FilmDistrict pacts with Netflix to stream titles

Multi-year deal includes 'Drive,' 'Lockout'

Bypassing a traditional pay cable output deal, fledgling distrib FilmDistrict has struck a multiyear pact with Netflix for Web streaming of its feature films.

FilmDistrict’s deal comes on the heels of Relativity Media’s similar pact with Netflix to stream its releases during the traditional pay TV window, about 11-12 months after a title’s theatrical release. The accords reflect the tighter market for output deals among traditional pay TV outlets — HBO, Showtime and Starz — and the aggressive moves that the fast-growing Netflix is making to expand the lineup of firstrun pics available for its streaming service. Netflix has made it clear that Web streaming is the future growth driver of its subscription service.

Netflix also cut a deal earlier this year with Epix, the pay TV entity launched by Paramount, MGM and Lionsgate, for streaming rights to its titles.

The first FilmDistrict titles that will be offered by Netflix include Ryan Gosling-Carey Mulligan crime actioner “Drive” and Luc Besson-produced sci-fi adventure “Lockout,” starring Guy Pearce and Maggie Grace. Both titles are set for release next year.

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FilmDistrict was launched earlier this year by Graham King, Tim Headington and Peter Schlessel. Bob Berney and Adrian Alperovich subsequently joined the company as prexy of film distribution and prexy of acquisitions and operations, respectively. Schlessel is CEO.

“Netflix has a long and successful history working with Peter Schlessel and Bob Berney, and I have long admired Graham King’s amazing production success with movies like ‘The Departed’ and ‘Blood Diamond,’ which are among the most watched and highly rated movies of all time by Netflix members,” said Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer.

Alperovich said Netflix’s “innovative and flexible entrepreneurial spirit” makes the company a perfect partner.

Netflix’s subscriber base of movie and TV aficionados should be a good fit with the kind of pics FilmDistrict aims to release.

“Netflix has strategically developed a bold business model, and they love movies,” Berney said.

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