Paramount Pictures has set a new deal with Epix that will give the studio more flexibility with its post-theatrical windowing strategy and allow for thousands of new and library movie titles to be available on the fledgling Paramount Plus streamer.
The deal extends Epix’s hold on the all-important first pay TV window for Paramount Pictures releases through the end of 2023. It had been set to expire after the studio’s 2022 release slate. Paramount Pictures also has set an agreement to sub-license thousands of other movie titles from Epix starting in June.
Paramount Pictures will take over the “white label” deal that Epix previously had with Amazon, which helped boost Amazon Prime’s movie library. The deal is considered a white-label agreement because there is no Epix branding for the titles hosted by Amazon, nor are there any promotional pitches for electronic downloads, physical discs or future releases.
Amazon’s deal with Epix expires in June, after which Paramount Plus will move in. Epix has a similar deal with Hulu that will continue. Paramount Plus will have access to non-Paramount movies also licensed by Epix including titles from MGM and Sony Pictures. That list will include the long-delayed latest James Bond feature “No Time to Die,” after its theatrical release.
Paramount Pictures’ new Epix pact reflects changes long sought by the studio that was one of three founding partners, with MGM and Lionsgate, of the pay TV channel in 2008. MGM bought out the other Epix partners in 2017. At that time, Paramount set a five-year deal that committed the studio’s movies to Epix through 2022.
The new agreement will give Paramount the flexibility to sent select titles directly to Paramount Plus after their theatrical runs, before they go to Epix. The first two titles under that agreement will be “A Quiet Place II” and “Mission: Impossible 7.” It’s expected that some big franchise titles like “Star Trek” and “Transformers”-branded movies will go straight to Paramount Plus in order to give subscribers an incentive to stick with the streamer.
Sources close to the situation said Epix had historically paid low license fees for Paramount titles, a legacy of the studio having once been an equity partner in the channel. The new pact boosts those fees while at the same time, Paramount will be paying Epix to sub-license the older titles and to buy out the pay 1 windows on the franchise titles.
With MGM on the auction block, the deal was attractive to Epix because it ensures a pipeline of substantial movies for at least two more years. That will help Epix in carriage negotiations with MVPD partners, and ensures a predictable cash flow stream for a longer period that will be palatable to investors as they kick the tires on MGM.
Epix, under the leadership of president Michael Wright, has focused its efforts in recent years on expanding the volume of its original programming. The cabler has seen some traction with dramas including the Forest Whitaker starrer “Godfather of Harlem,” which bows its second season April 18.
(Pictured: “A Quiet Place II”)