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FX Gets ‘Aviator’ Rights for 3 Years

Jul 25, 2005  •  Post A Comment

FX has acquired the right to be the first network to show 2005 Oscar nominee for best picture “The Aviator” on ad-supported television.

The network, better known for acquiring male-skewing action-adventure films such as “Batman Begins,” “Double Impact” and “Die Hard,” also recently acquired the rights to another 2005 Academy Award best picture contender, “Ray.”

While the films performed solidly at the box office-“The Aviator” sold $103 million worth of tickets-such critically acclaimed films often are not huge ratings generators. Nevertheless, FX appears to think the high-quality films are a good match for its respected original programming, which includes “The Shield,” “Nip/Tuck” and “Rescue Me-all of which received Emmy nominations earlier this month-as well as “Over There,” the highly anticipated show from Steven Bochco about the Iraq war.

Neither FX nor Miramax, which produced “The Aviator,” would disclose specifics about the deal, but sources indicated that the network paid less than $10 million for the movie, which was released in December.

The deal, negotiated by Gary Perchick, VP of television sales at Miramax, gives the film to FX for three years, beginning in July 2007. Pay TV rights to the film went to Starz Encore under an output deal with Miramax.

The “Aviator” has not yet been sold to a broadcast network, Mr. Perchick said.

Miramax still handles many of its movie sales in conjunction with The Walt Disney Co.’s Buena Vista Television unit, and a couple of big deals are still in the works, he said.

“The Aviator,” based on the early years of the life of billionaire Howard Hughes, stars Leonardo DiCaprio and also features Alan Alda, Alec Baldwin, Kate Beckinsale and Cate Blanchett, who won the Oscar for best supporting actress. The film was directed by Martin Scorsese.

The two best picture nominees will likely run in future Februarys, in line with upcoming Oscar seasons. The network is also likely to find other times during the year to run the films, either together or separately.

Even though it has moved to acquire a pair of Oscar best picture nominees, FX is still likely to be a contender when more action fare, such as 20th Century Fox’s “Fantastic Four,” goes on the sales block. Though it got lukewarm reviews, “Fantastic Four” was No. 1 at the box office its first week in release and has earned more than $100 million.